A gorilla habituation experience involves clients spending more time with mountain gorillas and that is why it is called a 4 hours trek compared to gorilla trekking which is restricted to only one hour. Mountain gorilla habituation experience involves clients moving with researchers, experienced guides to spend more time and see how gorillas are habituated. They are at times shy and the moment they sense any animal or human being nearby, they have to hide in the dense canopy. Spotting them becomes a challenge. So if you move with an experienced guide, the gorilla will not hide away from you while on the habituation experience
A Gorilla Habituation Experience is different from a normal gorilla trek not only in terms of time but also the energy and fee to engage in the activity compared to a gorilla trekking activity is different. This amazing experience is only taken in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and can be booked at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through a local tour operator.
A maximum group of four people participate in the habituation experience and groups spend four hours with the gorillas. The cost of the permit for this experience is USD $1500 per trekker for almost the whole day so individuals interested in the experience must have a reasonable degree of fitness to participate. The fee includes a guide and park entrance fees. Two gorilla families have been put aside for gorilla habituation experience and are located in the Nkuringo and Rushaga side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The best time for gorilla habituation in Uganda is the dry and warm months of June, July, and August, Mid September, December, January and February. During these months, there is less rainfall that is likely to interrupt your whole day gorilla habituation experience. The forest is less slippery and as such you are able to move well while in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You should book for the permit at least 6 months in advance because the permits are given out on first come first serve basis.
Preparing for Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi
- Be prepared to track for 4 hours. This means that a reasonable degree of fitness is needed if you are to try out this experience.
- Remember to carry some snacks given that the time you are to spend within the forest is unpredictable.
Gorilla habituation involves training the mountain gorillas to get used to the presence of human beings without altering their behavior. This activity only takes place in Bwindi impenetrable forest in the southwestern parts of Uganda. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) introduced mountain gorilla habituation experience to all interested clients effective 1st January 2014. Two gorilla families have been put aside and are available for gorilla habituation experience and are located in the Nkuringo and Rushaga side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
This great activity takes about 2-3 years to be completed and during this time, researchers keep on visiting an identified Wild gorilla group on a daily basis to learn more about individual gorillas and the way they behave. With time, the gorillas get used to these researchers, and each of the gorillas is given a name. Once researchers are sure that these mountain gorillas can be trekked without any alteration in their behavior, they then introduce a mock exercise where some few people who may include scientists, journalists start visiting it. After a gorilla family passes the mock exercise, it is then opened for trekking.
Cost of Gorilla permit for habituation
All those interested in the habituation experience pay USD1500.00 per person in Uganda. Two gorilla families in the Rushaga region have been put aside and dedicated for this experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The cost includes park entrance fees, rangers, and spending four hours with mountain gorillas under habituation.
How long do visitors stay with gorillas during the gorilla habituation experience?
Clients will be allowed to spend 4 hours with mountain gorillas under habituation. The 4 hours exclude the time you spend moving around the forest in search of the gorillas. This gives you more time compared to the gorilla tracking experience which gives you only 1 hour.
When does the gorilla habituation experience start?
Unlike gorilla trekking which starts at 8:30 am, gorilla habituation starts at 7:30 am, and briefing is done much earlier to catch up with time spent with the Gorillas.
Where else can gorilla habituation experience be done other than Bwindi?
Gorilla habituation experience is currently possible in Rushaga located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It is thus not possible in the Buhoma or Ruhija side of the forest because the two mountain gorilla families being habituated are in Rushaga. If you are interested in this activity, you should be ready to book accommodation closer to Rushaga since this activity requires an early start.
How different is gorilla trekking from gorilla habituation?
Gorilla habituation allows you to spend 4 hours with mountain gorillas while the gorillas tracking allows you to spend only one full hour with the Gorillas. This means that the guests have more time to interact with the Gorillas during habituation than just tracking a habituated family.
Minimum age for gorilla habituation experience
The minimum age for gorilla habituation is 15 years and above just like the case with the gorilla tracking experience. Gorilla habituation is limited to only six people per Gorilla group joining the team of UWA researchers who lead them to the location of the Gorilla family under habituation.
Where to Stay
Choosing the best safari lodge or accommodation will depend on your budget for accommodation, there are different facilities available to cater for budget, midrange, and high-end guests. Luxury accommodation facilities include; Buhoma Lodge, Clouds Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, and Mahogany Springs.
What to Wear for Gorilla habituation
Just like the gorilla trekking gear guide, you will need quality walking boots if trying any hikes or even climbs, warm clothes for the cold evenings, and clothing for wet weather as it may become cold and wet at this high altitude.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous to human beings?
Though dominant and very strong, gorillas are gentle and shy because they have been habituated and are used to the presence of human beings.
When mountain gorillas are threatened they do attack so as to protect their very own. When different Mountain Gorilla groups meet, there is a fight between the lead Silverbacks to death.
Mountain gorillas exist in groups that differ in size from 2–30 or 40 but they are mostly in groups of 10. There is no specific mating season for these apes and babies are born through the year. The Male ones begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth around 10-12 years. Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime. Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave with it to form their group. Mountain gorillas do not speak but communicate through sounds like roars, grunts, and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers.
Conclusion: Habituation of gorillas is the best Gorillas experience you can ever have as it gives you much more time to interact with the Gorillas. Gorilla habituation trekking permits are on high demand those interested must book early enough through a trusted tour operator in Uganda.