Like Uganda and Rwanda, the DR Congo’s Virunga National Park equally features habituated gorilla families where visitors on gorilla safari can track. It is in this park that the rare mountain gorillas thrive especially along the slopes of Mikeno sector which is approximately 2 to 3 hours’ drive off Goma. You can reach this park from Uganda through Bunagana or Rwanda and gorilla permit can be obtained at $400 through the Congolese Wildlife Authority Sales Office in Goma or direct from ICCN. Gorilla treks in Virunga National Park usually start at Bukima Patrol Post and this offers you a chance to trek through one of its habituated groups. The habituated gorilla families in this park include;
This gorilla group is composed of about 34 individuals with 2 silverbacks. It thrives within Bukima Sector and it is led by Kabirizi silverback. It derived its name from the former ICCN director who died in a motor accident around the 1990s. Kabirizi silverback was habituated in 1998 and succeeded Ndugutse silverback that died while on a cross fire between the Rwanda rebels and Congo Army in 1997.
Humba group thrives within Bukima area just near Goma and it is led by Humba silverback. This group is comprised of 16 members and 2 silverbacks. Humba happens to be a brother to Sekwenkwe who died on 22nd July 2007 to unknown gun men. He broke off from his father ‘Rugendo’ around 1998 however; he kept his dominance till recent. If you are interested in exploring a group that is very calm then consider Humba a must to trek.
This group is marked by a dark history and it is named after one of the earlier silverbacks known as Rugendo. It featured 18 individuals around 1997 with 2 silverbacks-Rugendo and Humba together with Senkwekwe black back with 8 females, 6 infants, 1 sub-adult female. In 1998, Humba broke off from the group and left Rugendo with about 8 members and this included Rugendo silverback, black back Senkwekwe, 4 mature females and 3 infants.
This group comprises of 15 members with 1 silverback and it is found around Jomba just near the border of Bunagana which connects this area with Uganda. It is led by Mapuwa silverback who is also famous for his zeal when it comes to defending his members and annexing other members into his group that led to drastic increase in the number of its members.
Lulengo family is another significant gorilla group in Virunga National Park and features 6 members and 1 silverback. The group is led by Lulengo and it thrived within Jomba sector to the Uganda border of Bunagana. Lulengo hails from Rugabo group which was the first habituated gorilla group in Mikeno sector. Its name changed from Masekura to Lulengo.
This group thrives within Bukima area close to Goma and features seven individuals and two silverbacks. This group was the first to be found by rangers in 2008 and was led by Munyaga silverback and Bilali-the female gorilla. Bilali is believed to have joined this family in 2004 straying from Rugendo together with 2 of her babies. Currently, the silverback is known as Mawazo.