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One of the most fascinating gorilla groups that capture the attention of gorilla trekkers to Volcanoes National Park is the Sabinyo Group. This fascinating group was started following the death of the dominant silverback of the Agashya group (group 13) in 1992. Initially, the group was known as the “Amavubi” group meaning Wasps because of the difficultly faced during its Habituation. It was composed of 3 silverbacks named Ruhennyi, Guhonda and Ryango.

Following the passing of the dominant Silverback of Agashya group (known as group 13 at that time), some of the silverbacks took some of the females such as Gukunda, Ijisho and Kampanga to form their own groups hence a new group was formed with two silverbacks and four females and the name was eventually changed to Sabinyo. Mount Sabinyo is where the group was first sighted. Sabinyo means “Old man’s teeth” because of the gapped-shape of its Peaks. As the group make-up keeps on changing based in the rate of birth, immigration and emigration, death, new group members came to the group while others left the group. There are currently 13 members in the group including 2 silverbacks and various infants, and is known for its friendliness and the biggest silverback in the whole world-named Guhonda who weighs 220 kilograms. This wonderful silverback likes beating his chest as a way of showing superiority. Visit to this group normally starts with a short drive, followed by a 15 minutes’ walk within an even ground to the trailhead. This group is one of the easiest to track groups and is located closer to the Park boundary.

The Sabyinyo Gorilla Family is made up of 18 mountain gorilla individuals. It inhabits the gentle slopes of the Sabyinyo volcano that Rwanda shares with Uganda. This is among the easily accessed gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park. It has the biggest silverback gorilla called Guhonda within the whole of the Volcanoes National Park area.

The group is currently led by the dominant Silverback Gihishamwotsi. At the time of its habituation the group was named Amavubi (wasps). The name was due to their aggressive character which really gave hard time to researchers who did the gorilla habituation process. Later the name was changed to Sabyinyo, the volcanic mountain where the group was first seen by the researchers.

At the time of its habituation, it was led by Murthi, a silverback gorilla. When Murthi of Group 13 died, Guhonda a lone Silverback took advantage of Murthi’s death and grabbed 3 females from Group 13 (Gukunda, Kampanga and Ijisho) to create his own group. He also grabbed a number of members from Group 11.

Guhonda who was the biggest and obviously stronger dominant silverback of the group. For a long time, Guhonda managed to keep its major rival silverback Ryango in isolation from the major group.

The  Sabyinyo group currently consists of 18 individuals including 3 Silverbacks, 6 Adult females, 1 Sub adult females, 4 Juveniles and 4 Infants.

Tracking the Sabyinyo Gorilla Family

Tourists can track this group around Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Gahinga. If you wish to encounter gorillas in the wild without going through so much trouble, this group is for you. They like to graze in the easily reachable forest zone of the mountain after which they are named, Mountain Sabinyo. In seasons when food is scarce here, they don’t go very far. Rather, they hang around the lower slopes of the bamboo zone. This preference for less bushy settings makes it easy to take their pictures as they go about their normal-wild-lives. The group is headed by Guhonda silverback and has 12 members.

Best Time to Visit Sabinyo Gorilla Group

This group can be visited anytime of the year, but the best time to visit is the dry season from June to mid September and December to February. During this time, the hiking trails and less muddy and slippery.

Guidelines for Trekking the Sabinyo Gorilla Group

Before you think of participating in gorilla tracking, make sure to book for a gorilla tracking permit from the Rwanda Development Board Office that costs $1500 per person for all categories of tourists.

Only 8 persons are allowed to visit this group, and only one hour is allocated to be spent with the gorilla group. This means that only 8 gorilla permits per day are available for sale, hence tourists have to book in advance to avoid being disappointed.

Wear appropriately that involves long sleeved shirts, long trousers, wear a hat and sunglasses, waterproof hiking boots, long socks, rain jacket/poncho and carry a backpack. Carry enough drinking water and packed lunch to keep you hydrated and have enough energy to climb easily.

Hirer a porter who will help to carry your backpack and support you during hiking, and also carry a walking stick which is also handy for climbing.

In conclusion, Sabinyo gorilla group is one of the 10 habituated gorilla Groups. This group is one of the most easiest and nearest groups to track because it is situated just a few hours from the trailhead.