Trekking the Nkuringo Gorilla Family in Bwindi Forest National Park:  Three habituated gorilla populations are available for hiking in the Nkuringo area. Another gorilla troop is through the Habituation process, and UWA will soon make it available for the unique Habituation Experience.

When you purchase a gorilla permit at the Nkuringo trailhead, you do not specify which gorilla group you will follow. However, you are allocated to one of these gorilla groups according on your physical capabilities during the briefing at the sector’s UWA trailhead office. You can request to be assigned to the Nkuringo Gorilla Family if you are an experienced hiker, but the Bushaho family is more interesting and simpler to monitor.

Many hikers who have visited Bushaho report Silverback Bahati enjoys displaying his scary chest-thumping persona and never disappoints. Most hikers would desire to see this scene.

Only eight visitors are permitted to track one gorilla family each day in Uganda, and they are permitted to spend up to one hour with the gorillas at a safe distance of 32 feet (10 meters) while wearing a facemask.

Gorilla Families in Nkuringo Sector Bwindi Forest National Park.

Habituated gorilla families in Nkuringo sector in Bwindi forest national park include; Nkuringo, Bushaho, and Christmas gorilla families; there is also the Posho gorilla family which is still undergoing habituation.

Nkuringo Gorilla Family.

After a four-year Habituation procedure, UWA opened the Nkuringo gorilla family to tourists in April 2004—this was the first habituated gorilla population in the Bwindi southern region. The family comprised 20 members, including three silverbacks led by Silverback Nkuringo, whose name comes from a native term that means “round Hill.”

The group is well-known for foraging outside the park for the majority of the time, which prompted the government and conservation organizations to evict former local human settlers from the frontline villages along the Nkuringo sector park boundary in order to create a buffer zone to reduce the human-wildlife interface. The gorilla troop’s familiar interaction with locals played a significant role in UWA’s decision to habituate the group.

Silverback Nkuringo headed the group until his death in 2008, at the age of 45, leaving the family in the capable hands of Silverback Safari. Safari had a good term until he vanished following a violent confrontation with a neighboring Bushaho gorilla tribe. Rangers have been unable to track down Silverback Safari till this day. Following Safari’s departure, the next in line, silverback Rafiki, quickly assumed command.

Rafiki, whose name means “friend” in Swahili, led the Nkuringo group with a family-friendly approach, allowing his siblings to linger around and permitting visits from brothers who head other groups on occasion. During his rule, Silverbacks Christmas and Posho fled the Nkuringo Sector to create their own families.

The Nkuringo group became one of the most popular gorilla groups for visitors visiting Bwindi, making Rafiki a well-known personality among early gorilla trekkers. He would command the organization for the next 12 years.

Unfortunately, Rafiki’s life was cut short in June 2020 following a chance meeting with an illegal hunter in the park. Rangers discovered Rafiki’s body on June 2 with a significant incision in his upper left abdomen. A spear looked to have punctured his internal organs, forcing the gorilla to die slowly and painfully.

Rafiki’s death was widely reported throughout the world, as one of Uganda’s most beloved mountain gorillas was brought to rest beneath the dump floor of the lovely foggy jungle.

Trekking the Nkuringo Gorilla Family in Bwindi Forest National Park
Trekking the Nkuringo Gorilla Family in Bwindi Forest National Park

Rafiki surrendered the crown to the Blackback brothers Kamara, Muhoozi, Tabu, and Rwamutwe. However, Blackback Rwamutwe quickly showed dominating and seized the lead. The name Rwamutwe derives from a native language meaning bullheaded, or obstinate as a mule, stiff-necked, strong-willed.

A Blackback is a young male gorilla that has not yet developed silver hair on his back. Gorillas, like humans, get silver hair as they age.

Some gorillas left the group and joined adjacent groups because they did not trust Blackback Rwanmutwe’s leadership. The group has impressively maintained its well-known heritage of accepting other guys to remain around and boost the family’s chances of survival in a harsh world.

Today, the Nkuringo gorilla group, led by Rwamutwe, includes 12 robust members including infants that might be Rafiki’s, including 4 male blackbacks, 4 adult females and 4 infants.

How to get to the Nkuringo Gorilla Family in Bwindi Forest National Park.

It takes around 20 minutes to drive from the UWA headquarters in Nkuringo Sector to the Nteko ridge trailhead, then a one-hour trek down the valley to the Kashasha river to reach the Nkuringo group. The group is one of the most difficult to trek gorilla groups and is favored by most seasoned safari tourists, such as the 94-year-old lady who successfully followed the Nkuringo gorilla family in 2013.

How much is a gorilla permit in Nkuringo sector Bwindi Forest National Park?

A gorilla permit in Nkuringo sector Bwindi Forest National Park costs 700 USD per person for international visitors and 600 USD per person for foreign residents living in Uganda.

How to get to Bwindi Forest National Park.

Bwindi Forest National Park is accessible via scheduled or chartered aircraft. Kihihi is the nearest airport to the Buhoma and Ruhija trailheads, while Kisoro is the closest to the Rushaga Sector and Nkuringo trailheads in the south. Both are around 40km/25mi from the park, and the travel from either takes approximately 1½ hours.

book a gorilla trip