Rugendo Gorilla Group
Rugendo Gorilla Group- DR Congo is one of the three countries where tourists can do gorilla trekking in Africa apart from Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla park as well as Rwanda in volcanoes national park. Virunga national park in the eastern part of DR Congo has 8 habituated gorilla families.
Mountain gorillas live in social groups headed by a dominant silverback and the Rugendo gorilla group is one of the habituated gorilla families that can be trekked in Virunga national park DR Congo. The gorilla family was habituated in 1989 with 2 silverbacks Rugendo and his son, in 1997 Humba split off and took away 8 gorillas with him. The gorilla family grew but unfortunately, the dominating silverback was shot dead and other 3 female adults near the park boundaries with clashes between the park rangers and Interahamwe militia groups.
Mountain gorillas start the day by eating until 6 pm when they make nests to sleep on. they are herbivores feeding mostly on vegetation made up of leaves, fruits, bamboo shoots, and they sometimes supplement their diet with ants. Insects as well as termites. The infants feed on breastmilk until the age of 4.
Female mountain gorillas usually reach homosexuality before the male gorillas, they have only 1-2 fertile days in a whole month, and once they get pregnant their gestation period is 8 and a half months. A female mountain gorilla gives birth to one baby and it produces 4 to 6 offsprings in a lifetime.
The female mountain gorillas are responsible for breastfeeding their young ones. Infant gorillas feed on breast milk until when they are about 4 years and mothers sleep with their babies until they are mature and they make their nets but next to their mothers.
Rugendo mountain gorilla family
The popular Rugendo mountain gorilla family was one of the first habituated mountain gorilla groups in Virunga national park way back in 1985. Rugendo gorilla family was dominated by a silverback called Rugendo at the time of habituation until when he was shot in 2001.
After the death of Rugendo his son Senkwekwe took over the group in 2007 and the group stayed without a leader until 2008 when a solitary male silverback known as Bukima who was a former member of the Buhanga group took over the leadership now.
Rugendo gorilla family is now made up of 9 members which include 3 silverbacks, 1 adult female, 1 black back, 2 sub-adult females, and 2 infants. Those planning to trek Rugendo gorilla family can do so from the Bukima and Kikenge areas of Virunga national park.
Other gorilla families formed from the Rugendo gorilla family
Humba gorilla family
Humba Gorilla Group was formed as a result of the silverback Humba and Nyakamwe silverbacks living Rugendo gorilla family to begin up their gorilla group. The two silverbacks left their group with 9 members to form their group but later Nyakamwe broke away to form his own gorilla family. This gorilla family stays in the Bukima area of the park.
Nyakamwe gorilla family
Nyakamwe gorilla family was formed when silverback Nyakamwe broke away from his elder brother Humba to begin up his own gorilla family, Nyakamwe took with him 10 individuals and left Humba with only 6 individuals. Nyakamwe gorilla family can be trekked from the Bukoma sector of Virunga national park and its now made up of 11 individuals.
Gorilla permits in Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking permits in DR Congo to Virunga national park cost $450 in the peak season and the low season, which are $200. Gorilla permits to Virunga national permit should be booked in advance of 3-4 months due to scarcity.
Gorilla permits can be booked from Virunga national park website or through any trusted tour operator or even at the park headquarters. Gorilla permits a just a portion of the total cost of gorilla trekking in DR Congo. One needs to bear in mind the cost of a VISA, transport and accommodation. Gorilla tours are divided into luxury, mid-range and budget so the total cost of the tour will depend on what you have decided to choose.
Best time to visit Virunga national park
Virunga national park can be visited at any time of the year for gorilla trekking but the time is the dry season of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February when the roads to the national parks are easily accessible and trekking trails are in good condition.
Where to stay in Virunga national park
Accommodation also determines whether the safari was good or not. Virunga national park has various accommodation ranging from luxury, mid -range and budget. Below are some of the most popular hotels in Virunga national park
Kubumba tented camp lodge: this is one of the new lodges in Virunga national park. The lodge is located on the foot of mountain Nyiragongo along a bumpy road to Virunga national park. The lodge has tented camps and well decorated rooms for luxury, mid-range and budgeted travelers. The lodge has self-contained rooms with a budget one going for $200 per night
Mikeno lodge: this is a luxury lodge situated near Goma town. The lodge has 12 thatched luxurious rooms made up of mahogany and they are all decorated with lava stones. The lodge is located near the park and this allows visitors to have unforgettable wildlife experiences such as watching chimpanzees, blue monkeys, colobus monkeys as well as bird near the rooms. The place has a well-stocked bar, dining hall and a lounging area with a fire place.
Lake Kivu lodge: this is built with in Goma city on the banks of Lake Kivu. The lodge is made up of 20 rooms overlooking a beautiful garden on one side and Lake Kivu on the other side. The lodge has a swimming pool, Wi-Fi, conference rooms and a fitness Centre.