The two most popular experiences in Bwindi Forest, gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are two distinct primate safari experiences. While they all draw trekkers close to mountain gorillas, they are distinct from each other in one way or the other. However, both gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experiences are conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda.
Differences between gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience
Trekking to see mountain gorillas can be done in anyone of the 4 gorilla parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park which is shared by the southwestern districts of Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in the Northern Province of Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Whereas mountain gorilla habituation experience is done only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Unlike the usual gorilla treks where trekkers have only an hour of magical encounter with the rare mountain gorillas, what sets gorilla habituation experience apart is the fact that it takes you the whole day and 4 hours with these remarkable world’s creatures.
Visitors on gorilla trekking safaris are always assigned to habituated gorilla families and in Uganda, 21 gorilla groups are available for trekking and for gorilla habituation experience it is only Kutu gorilla group. In Rwanda, there are 10 gorilla families set for tourism and they include Karisimbi, Bwenge, Umubano, Hirwa, Susa A, Agashya, Amahoro, Ugenda, Kwitonda and Sabyinyo. In Uganda, the habituated gorilla families to trek include Bushaho, Bikingi, Bitukura, Oruzongo, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye, Nkuringo, Christmas, Katwe, Kyaguriro, Habinyanja, Rushegura and others.
To trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need a gorilla permits which costs $600 per person although this price is expected to change to $700 from 1st July 2020. In Rwanda, gorilla permits cost $1500 per person and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you need to have $400 to secure a gorilla permit. Gorilla habituation experience permits are obtainable at $1500 per person.
Gorilla habituation experience is by far an extra-ordinary primate adventure experience the fact that visitors are allocated to only a semi-habituated gorilla family. It involves visitors following mountain gorillas in order to make them get used to human presence prior opened for tourism. For gorilla trekking, trekkers explore the already habituated families.
Essential items to pack on gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience
There are many essential items you need to consider in your packing list for both gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience;
- Gardening gloves-these are essential especially in cases where you need to get support and perhaps you grab thorns or itching plants.
- Gorilla permit-very essential tool every trekker should have if he or she is to be allowed to trek mountain gorillas.
- Insect repellents-to protect you from biting insects.
- Long sleeved shirt or t-shirt-to protect your hands from falling tree branches.
- Camera with no flashlight-for photo taking.
- Trousers-to safeguard you from biting insects and scratches.
- Hat-to protect your head from sun heat.
- Sunglasses-to protect your eyes from the sun rays.
- Waterproof hiking boots-these should be lightweight and comfortable while you are hiking. They are ideal in safeguarding you from muddy ground.
- Daypack-this is vital in protecting your documents and other essential travel items. Your daypack should be waterproof.
- Energy giving snacks-for you to keep strong so that you make a complete trek.
- Bottled water and for habituation experience you need adequate drinking since you have the whole day with gorillas
- Rain jacket or poncho-this is significant in protecting you in case of down pour while you are on gorilla trek.
- Binoculars-this is essential tool for birders since gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience isn’t only about a glimpse at mountain gorillas but a chance for you to also spot out variety of bird species along the way.