Gorilla habituation is a process of making mountain gorillas to feel comfortable around human beings and not feel threatened by their Presence. Uganda Wildlife Authority introduced gorilla habituation in Bwindi Impenetrable National park in 2014 January. This means that travelers on a safari to Uganda can be part of the gorilla habituation experience in the park instead of doing the usual gorilla treks. Or more so can combine the two experiences together. It should be noted that in the whole world, the gorilla habituation experience can only be done in Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
There are only two gorilla families that offer the gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi impenetrable Forest National park. They are Bushaho and Bukingi.
However, there about 14 habituated gorilla families in the park that are ready for the regular gorilla treks which are possible on our gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda.
What exactly is the Gorilla Habituation Experience?
With the gorilla habituation experience, visitors spend more time with the mountain gorillas compared to the normal gorilla trekking. Visitors spend about 4 hours following a gorilla family they are trying to habituate. For the normal gorilla trekking experience, clients are only allowed 1 hour with the gorillas, at a distance of 7 meters from where the gorillas are.
Visitors on a gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable wake up and have breakfast, at 7:00am they start the habituation process moving with researchers who habituate the gorillas. The gorillas being ‘followed’ for habituation are semi-habituated and are not yet comfortable with human presence, may hide or refuse to come out of the bushes. Sometimes the gorillas charge and the process may be stopped if the gorillas are much habituated. The process includes collecting data about the gorilla family being habituated, and this data is added to the data base and will always be available if you need updates on the family you habituated, even when you are back home.
Cost of the Gorilla Habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
As per Uganda Wildlife Authority, the conservation body for Uganda national parks and wildlife reserves, the cost is $1500 US dollars per person per gorilla habituation permit. The money is worth it and you spend more time with the mountain gorillas compared to the one hour for the normal gorilla trekking whose permit costs $600
Minimum age for The Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Like it is with the regular gorilla trekking, the minimum age to go for the Gorilla habituation experience is 15 years old.
Best time for the Gorilla Habituation Experience.
The gorilla Habituation Experience can be done throughout the year. But people prefer to go in June-October and December to March when the area receives less rainfall and it is drier. This is also the time people have summer holidays. However, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park is a rain forest, meaning it can rain anytime of the year and of the day. The forest is wet most of the time and that is why we recommend that you come with a rain jacket for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation. During the wet months, mountain gorillas do not move very far to look for their favourite food.
How many people are allowed for the gorilla habituation experience?
Only 4 people are allowed to habituate a gorilla family per day. This means that a one needs to book their gorilla habituation permit as soon as they make a decision. We recommend that you book your gorilla habituation permits 4-6 months in advance so that you don’t miss one out.
How to book a gorilla habituation permit
The same procedure for booking normal gorilla trekking permits is used to book your gorilla habituation permit. You should book one through team Bird’s Nest Safaris. If you book the whole gorilla habituation safari through us on your Uganda safaris, we will not charge you for booking the permit. If you decide to book only the permit through us and not the whole safari package, we will only charge $ 50 US dollar as ground handling fees.
Fitness for the gorilla habituation experience.
Some level of fitness will make your gorilla habituation experience more enjoyable. When you decided on come for this activity, you should take some walks, hikes and go to the gym to prepare for the habituation. We suggest that you hire services of the porters, who carry your back and give you moral support during the whole process
What to bring on your Gorilla Habituation Experience
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes with good traction, suitable for climbing steep muddy slopes
- Carry a packed lunch and plenty of drinking water (provided)
- The weather can be unpredictable so carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion and a hat.
- Wear or pack insect repellent.
- Bring hand gloves.
- Bring binoculars – or hire a pair from the Uganda Wildlife Authority office in the park
- Bring spare batteries and an extra memory card for your digital camera. Using your camera flashlight is not permitted. If you are photographing using film, we recommend using 400-800 ASA film
Rules for Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi Impenetrable forest
The new rules for gorilla trekking apply for gorilla habituation and include keeping a 7 meter distance from the gorillas, don’t go if you are sick since mountain gorillas are closely related to human beings and catch diseases from us.
Read more about the rules via Rules for Gorilla Tracking
If you are interested in a gorilla habituation experience, get in touch now and we will tailor make a perfect itinerary for you.Contact us