3 GORILLA FAMILIES IN NKURINGO SECTOR – BWINDI IMEANTRABLE NATIONAL PARK
3 Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector : There are only 3 Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector thus 24 gorilla trekking permits are issued out by the Uganda Wildlife Authority on a daily basis since each gorilla family is trekked by maximum number of 8 persons per day. Nkuringo sector is one of the 4 sectors of Bwindi situated in the southern region alongside Rushaga sector. However, Nkuringo sector has the least number of habituated gorilla families as compared to the other sectors.
Below are the 3 gorilla families visited for gorilla trekking safari in Nkuringo sector and they include;
- Nkuringo Gorilla family
Nkuringo Gorilla family is one of the 3 habituated gorilla families in Nkuringo sector and was the first Gorilla family to be habituated in this sector in the year 1997 under the leadership of Nkuringo silverback gorilla. In fact it was the first family to be habituated in the entire southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park.
In 2004, Nkuringo gorilla family gave birth to twins making it the first gorilla family to produce twins in the entire Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Nkuringo gorilla family started with 17 family members at the time of habituation under the leadership of Nkuringo until his death in 2012 when he was by then 45 years leaving the family under the leadership of 3 silverbacks (Rafiki, Safari and Christmas) but safari was the major leader as his 2 brothers also helped him out.
Later on Safari disappeared after an counter with Bushaho gorilla family and Rafiki took over the full responsibilities of managing the Nkuringo Gorilla family until he was later on murdered by hunters in 2020. Currently, Nkuringo gorilla family has 13 members including 2 silverbacks Rwamutwe who is the new group leader after the death of Rafiki and Tabu the second in Command after Rwamutwe, 5 adult females including Kwitonda, Furaha, Kuhirwa, Nderema and Kiiza, 2 blackbucks including Muhoozi and Kamara, 2 Juveniles (Owamani and Guma) and finally 2 Infants. Trekking Nkuringo gorilla family is a physically demanding activity but upon encounter with this famous, trekkers usually forget about the hardships encountered along the trail and enjoy an hour watching this beautiful gorilla family in Nkuringo sector.
- Bushaho Gorilla family
Bushaho gorilla family is led by the Bahati silverback and this was the 2nd habituated gorilla family in Nkuringo sector following Nkuringo the first gorilla family to be habituated in Nkuringo sector and entire southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park. Bushaho gorilla family was formed as a result of some gorilla members breaking away from Nkuringo family and joined by some other unhabituated gorillas to form Bushaho family. This family consists of 2 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 1 black back, 1 juvenile and 1 infant bringing the entire family to 9 members.
- Christmas Gorilla family
Christmas Gorilla family is yet another habituated gorilla family in Nkuringo sector and is the least habituated family available for trekking at any given period of time currently with 9 members under the leadership of Christmas silverback. Christmas the dominant silverback was born on charismas day on 25th December thus the name.
The family thrills with 9 members though during trekking mostly 6 out of 9 members are easily spotted. Introduction of Christmas gorilla family for trekking brought the total number of habituated gorilla families in Nkuringo sector to 3 thus 24 gorilla permits are now available on a daily basis.
Getting to Nkuringo sector,
There are 2 different ways on how one can get to Nkuringo sector to trek one of the 3 habituated gorilla family. This is either by road or by air.
By road: A road drive from Kampala/ Entebbe to Nkuringo sector takes about 9 hours, from kigali Rwanda it takes 4-5 hours via cyanika border, from Rushaga sector which is also situated in southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park, it takes about 1hour drive.
By air: There are scheduled charter flights from Entebbe international airport/ Kajansi airfield to Kihihi Airfield or Kisoro airfield and then take on a road drive to Nkuringo sector.
Since Nkuringo sector is situated in the southern part of the park, it is very easy to combine gorilla trekking safari in Nkuringo sector with gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga sector to have a maximum experience in the habitat of endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park.