Gorilla Safaris: Gorilla Groups in DR Congo

Each gorilla family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a unique story to tell and a rare experience for visitors on Congo gorilla trekking safari. Gorilla trekking in DR Congo is conducted in the Virunga National Park where a section of the endangered mountain gorillas thrive which today remain fewer than 1063 in the world and only exist.

Virunga National Park alone is home to about 300 mountain gorillas and about 8 families have been habituated and set for visitors on Congo gorilla safari. This park was gazetted in 1925 and it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979 and became a World Heritage Site in Danger ever since 1994.

Aside from trekking the mountain gorillas, Congo gorilla safaris are also conducted in Kahuzi Biega National Park. A visit to this park lets you strike your imaginations with a habituated Eastern lowland gorilla family. A section of Eastern Lowland gorillas thrive within Kahuzi Biega National Park and others are found in Maiko National Park.

Below are gorilla families in Congo;

  • Humba gorilla family
  • Kabirizi gorilla family
  • Rugendo gorilla family
  • Mapuwa gorilla family
  • Bageni gorilla family
  • Munyaga gorilla family
  • Lulengo gorilla family
  • Nyakamwe gorilla family
  • Chimanuka gorilla family
  • Mugaruka gorilla family
  • Nganwa gorilla family
  • Bonnani gorilla family
  • Mpungwe gorilla family


  • Humba group

Name after Humba silverback, Humba gorilla family can easily be trekked starting from Bukima sector just near Goma. This gorilla family is comprised of 16 members and for visitors who prefer trekking calm habituated families, it is one of its kind to consider while on an African gorilla safari in the Virunga National Park. Humba silverback is a brother to Senkwekwe silverback who was killed in 2007. This gorilla family broke away from Rugendo who was his father way back in 1998.

  • Kabirizi family

Kabirizi was formerly called Ndungutse and it derives its name from Ndungutse silverback. Compared to most silverbacks, Ndungutse was among the humblest and massive silverbacks in the Congo Virunga National Park. Unfortunately, he was killed in 1997 during the crossfire between the Congo army and the rebels within Bukima patrol post. Later, the group was renamed ‘Kabirizi’ a name which was got from the ICCN Director who passed on during the traffic accident in the 1990s. Today, this gorilla family is composed of 34 members. For starters, the number of gorillas in a particular gorilla family keeps changing depending on different factors. Visitors on Congo gorilla safari can explore Kabirizi gorilla family from Bukima Patrol Post.

  • Rugendo group

If you are interested in exploring the oldest gorilla groups while on Congo gorilla safari in the Virunga National Park then consider Rugendo family a must-visit. This group underwent habituation in 1989 under the leadership of Rugendo silverback. Initially, it consisted of 18 members around 1997 including 2 silverbacks. However, the group encountered many challenges which affected its demographics. Humba challenged his father Rugendo in 1998 and created a new family with 10 members who left his father with only 8 members. The family is composed of 9 individuals after a sub-adult member was grabbed from Mapuwa family, however, in 1999, the group recorded 2 births were and in 2001, it encountered clashes between the military and the Interahamwe militia that led to the death of Rugendo. Unfortunately, in 2007, Rugendo was attacked and 4 of its members were killed.

  • Mapuwa group
Aerial View of Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo

Aerial View of Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo

This is another remarkable habituated gorilla family to explore on Congo gorilla safari in Virunga National Park. This 15-member gorilla family can be visited around Jomba just close to Bunagana border area between Congo and Uganda. The group is led by Mapuwa silverback. Mapuwa has fought numerous wars as a way to acquire more females more so in 2002 where he fought against Pili-Pili taking with him 3 gorillas.

  • Bageni family

Bageni family boasts as the largest family in the Virunga National Park with 26 members all under the leadership of Bageni silverback. It is a worth visit gorilla family while you are on Congo gorilla journey in Virunga National Park.

  • Munyaga group

Munyaga family can be trekked from Bukima just near Goma. This family is composed of 7 members including 2 silverbacks. The park rangers found it in 2008 and it was led by Munyaga at a time and Bilali a dominant female gorilla that was once in Rugendo family around 2004 but later joined Munyaga. The group is now led by Mawazo silverback that also stayed with Buhanga till 1997 and after joined Karatega before returning to Buhanga in 1998 and after 30 days, he joined Munyaga camp.

  • Nyakamwe family

Nyakamwe group is newly habituated family in the Congo Virunga National Park. It comprises of 11 individuals and led by Nyakamwe silverback.

  • Lulengo group

This group is comprised of 6 members and it led by Lulengo silverback. He was born in Rugendo group which also became the first group in Mikeno sector to be habituated. The family is named after the Technical Director of Virunga National Park who was murdered by a land mine.

  • Chimanuka gorilla family

This family is trekked in Kahuzi Biega National Park. It is the second-largest group in the park after Mpungwe group. It has 19 members to be seen on your safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park.

  • Mugaruka gorilla family

This group may not be considered as a family. It is comprised of one silverback but originally, it had more members which joined other groups.

  • Nganwa gorilla family

This is a wild gorilla group still undergoing habituation exercise in Kahuzi Biega National Park. However, it is comprised of 10 individuals.

  • Bonnani gorilla family

Bonnani group is a newly habituated family with 5 individuals. It also features as the smallest of all gorilla families in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

  • Mpungwe gorilla family

This group is comprised of 21 individuals and ranks as the largest of all the gorilla groups in Kahuzi Biega National Park. It is one of the interesting families to explore on a gorilla safari in Congo’s Kahuzi Biega National Park.