Rugendo gorilla family in Virunga national park
Rugendo gorilla family in Virunga national park is one of the families that can be trekked from the Jomba area. Rugendo gorilla family was one of the gorilla families to be first habituated in Virunga national park in 1984 and other families like Rugabo gorilla family and Zunguruka gorilla family.
Rugendo gorilla family started with 10 members but kept on increasing to 18 members by 1998 due to an increase in the number of births and acquiring new members from other groups. In the same year, the family lost about half of its members after a clash between Rugendo and his own son called Humba.
Unfortunately, Rugendo gorilla family was murdered by the rebels in Bukima area. The son of Rugendo called Senkwekwe took over the leadership of the group after the death of his father. In 2007, Senkwekwe and other 5 mountain gorillas were killed in a violent way after they had threatened the rangers.
After the death of Senkwekwe who was the ruling silverback, the family was left without a leader. A year later a solitary silverback called Bukima found Rugendo gorilla family leaderless and he decided to take over the leadership of this group. From 2010 up to date, the family has managed to expand from 7 members to 11 members and this has been as a result of increased births and new members coming into the family. The gorilla family unfortunately lost 4 of its members but this has not failed the group from increasing. Rugendo gorilla family is as of now led by Bukima who started ruling it in 2008.
Encountering Rugendo gorilla family
Trekking Rugendo gorilla family in Virunga national park starts early in the morning with drivers transferring the trekkers to the briefing point. Here they will be taught about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking permit and grouping will be done. You will be grouped according to the family you want to trek and armed ranger guides will lead you to the jungle to search for these giant apes.
During the search, trekkers will be able to meet different park animals such as aardvark, topis, bongo, mongoose, leopards, giant forest hogs, elephants, duikers, olive baboons, chimpanzees, buffaloes, birds, and different vegetation covers. After several hours of searching and finding Rugendo gorilla family, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around this group and this will enable them to learn about their habits, take photos and watch them do daily activities such as hunting, coupling, nesting, breastfeeding, feeding and much more.
Trekking permits for Rugendo gorilla family
Trekking permits are documents that can allow you to encounter mountain gorillas for 1 hour. Rugendo gorilla family has 8 gorilla trekking permits everyday and these can be bought using a local tour operator. Each gorilla trekking permit costs $450 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, $200 East African citizens, and Congolese. In the low season, the permits are $200 foreign non-residents and foreign residents, $100 Congolese and East African citizens.
Booking gorilla permits for Rugendo gorilla family
Once you have your planned travel dates, you need to send us an email containing these dates of travel. At Africa Adventure Vacations, we shall use these dates to check for the availability of the gorilla trekking permits with Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature and once the gorilla permits are available we shall send you an email containing the banking details. When you send the money and we receive it we shall book the gorilla permits for Rugendo gorilla group for you.
Best time to encounter Rugendo gorilla family
Visiting Rugendo gorilla family can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest and these are the dry months. The drier months are the best to encounter Rugendo gorilla family and they do happen from June to September and December to February. They are characterized by little or no rainfall which makes the trekking trails less slippery, the vegetation is thin giving clear views of the animals and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Tourists can still visit Virunga national park and trek Rugendo gorilla family in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy the low prices of gorilla permits and accommodation facilities. During the rainy season, however the trekking trails are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is thick with unclear views of the animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
What to pack for Rugendo gorilla trekking?
Tourists coming for Rugendo gorilla family trekking are advised to come with all the necessary equipment in order to have a memorable safari. Some of the essentials that should be packed for Rugendo gorilla trekking include waterproof hiking shoes, a pair of gaiters, long-sleeved pants, long-sleeved shirts, a rain jacket, a hat, sunscreen, gardening gloves, insect repellents, backpack, a camera and extra batteries, a pair of binoculars, reusable drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, facemask, sanitizer, and first aid kit.
Accommodation on Rugendo gorilla trekking safari
There are so many accommodation facilities around and inside Virunga national park where travelers can stay while on a gorilla trekking safari. These accommodation facilities range from budget to mid-range to luxury options and they include Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, Kikumba Tented Camp, and much more.
Activities that can be combined with Rugendo gorilla family trekking?
Birding: Don’t miss out on birding in Virunga national park while on a safari to trek Rugendo gorilla family. Virunga national park is home to over 706 birds of which most can be seen in the rainy season due to plenty of food in the park. Birding activities in Virunga national park give you an opportunity to encounter birds such as common buzzard, black-billed turaco, chubb’s cisticola, alpine swift, lunder’s bushshrike, black-faced rufous warbler, white-browed crombec, hadeda ibis, strange weaver, regal sunbird, Rwenzori turaco, and rufous thrush.
Other notable bird species include malachite sunbird, grey-backed camaroptera, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, narina trogon, handsome spurfowl, banded prinia, northern puffback, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, grassland pipit, western tinkerbird, diederrik cuckoo, green sandpiper, African olive pigeon, streaky seedeater, bronze mannikin, mountain sooty boubou, and thick-billed seedeater.
Chimpanzee trekking: Chimpanzee trekking is another activity in Virunga national park that can be combined with trekking Rugendo gorilla family. Not so many chimpanzees are in Virunga national park but the few that are there are habituated for tourism purposes. Chimpanzee trekking in Virunga is normally done in the southern sector of the park and its the armed ranger guides that lead the participants throughout the hike.
While searching chimpanzees, the trekkers are able to meet some of the par animals such as red-tailed monkeys, duikers, olive baboons, aardvark, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, elephants, mongoose, bongo, topis, birds, and different vegetation types. The chimpanzee trekking activity takes 2-4 hours in Virunga national park and when the trekkers meet these apes, they are given 1 hour to be around them, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn their behaviors.
Hiking: To do hiking in Virunga national park, you need to be physically fit and you must have a hiking permit which you can even get on the final day of hiking from Virunga national park offices. Hiking can be done before or after gorilla trekking in the park Hiking activity starts with a briefing and participants are led by the armed ranger guides to the summit of the volcano.
During the hike, the participants pass through steep slopes and rugged terrain with opportunities of meeting different park animals such as leopards, bongo, duikers, topis, elephants, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, okapi, bushbucks, birds, and different vegetation covers. Hiking takes 5-6 hours with different stopovers for relaxation but when the hikers reach the summit, they will be able to see the lava lake, Virunga volcanoes, Rwenzori mountains, Lake Kivu, Kahuzi Biega national park, Virunga national park, plantations, homestead, and Goma city.