Rwanda is one of the few countries where you can trek mountain gorillas in the whole world. The other only two being Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries are found in the Virunga Massif, a string of eight volcanoes that provide a conducive environment for the endangered gorilla species to live in. They are slightly more than 1000 mountain gorillas that dwell in these forests and only shared between the three countries.
In Rwanda, mountain gorillas can only be trekked in Volcanoes National Park which is home to only 11 habituated families that are open for visitors to trek the whole year. Some of these include Susa A gorilla family, Agashya (Group 13), Titus, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo to mention a few; Bwenge gorilla family surprisingly turns out to be one of the most famous of gorilla families in this national park. Some of the family members can be accredited to this family being featured in the legendary “Gorillas in the Mist” movie filmed in memory of Dian Fossey.
Bwenge locally translated as “wisdom” started as a small family when Bwenge an ambitious silverback who deserted his original family to form his own. Bwenge united with few females from other groups to form their own family. Bwenge family had steadily grown to eleven (11) members until tragedy struck and about six of their infants died. The tragedy left a big troll on the group and has never fully recovered.
As if this tragedy wasn’t enough, silverback Bwenge was also found dead a few years later and the true cause of his demise was never found. After his demise, the family was then led by Maggie an elderly female since Bwenge was the only silverback in the group. Of all groups, Bwenge is one of the easiest to track, found in close neighbourhood with Ugenda family. This is because they reside on the lower slopes of Mount. Bisoke.
When to visit Bwenge gorilla family?
For visitors interested in trekking Bwenge gorilla family, it’s advisable to visit during the drier months of December to February and also June to October. Because of the favorable trekking conditions in these months, it is considered to be a peak season.
Although you can opt for the wet season where crowds will be less and accommodation is offered at a discount, gorilla trekking experience might be slightly challenging in this period though doesn’t take away the magical encounter of meeting these gentle African giants.
Visitors should be reminded that gorilla trekking is only open to people averaging 15 years and above and in good health condition. The latter is a precaution to protect gorillas from contracting some of the diseases spread by humans like flu and cough.
Procedure for gorilla trekking.
For every visitor who is interested in trekking these magical species, a small but very important procedure is followed;
Early in the morning, trekkers are briefed for half an hour. This briefing includes a short history about gorillas, when they started protecting them and then taken through the rules and regulations to be observed during the trek.
Some of the rules include how to conduct yourself when on the track plus when you meet the magical creatures like keeping a safe distance, no using flash lights for photography, keeping voices low, no provoking the gorillas plus keeping your composure and no littering in the park as this is dangerous and can be fatal on the side of animals.
When you finally meet the gorillas, only one short blissful hour is allowed to interact with a habituated family. Gorilla trekking is such an enchanting experience that every guest feels like spending more time though it cannot be done for purposes of conservation. But you can book permits to trek with other gorilla families to satisfy you a little more.
Where to stay when visiting Bwenge gorilla family?
When visiting, several accommodation options are available to pick from, ranging from luxury to economy / low-end alternatives depending on your preference and budget. Notable lodges include Virunga Hotel, Mount. Gahinga Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Muhabura hotel, among others.
If you are searching for where to spend your next African holiday include a rewarding gorilla trekking tour in Volcanoes national park and get a chance to interact with the interesting Bwenge gorilla family.