Uganda Gorilla Habituation Experience

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Uganda Gorilla habituation and Gorilla trekking experience.

Uganda is home to approximately half of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla population, and gorilla habituation in Uganda is one of the most incredible wildlife experiences on the continent.

Mountain gorillas are endangered primates species that are only remaining in three countries on the entire planet that are Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mountain gorillas prefer living in tropical Rain forested mountainous areas and are vegetarians that feed on plant leaves, wild fruits, and bamboo shoots.

Mountain gorillas are some of the closest human primates with about 98% of their DNA similar to humans but this does not dispute the fact that they are still wild animals and can attack anyone in case provoked.

Mountain gorilla habituation is a process by which mountain gorillas are familiarized with human beings’ presence in their natural habitats.
This is done to make sure that mountain gorillas do not shy away or attack tourists who go tracking.

Habituation is a very long process that usually begins with mountain gorilla researchers and well-experienced rangers heading to the jungle every day, tracking the mountain gorilla family to be habituated, following the gorillas to wherever they go, sitting down with them and closely observing their behavior.

This is at first very hectic as mountain gorillas are by nature a little shy and do not like any interference from strangers.

The mountain gorillas attack by beating their chest and making a noise to scare the people away. At this point, the rangers and the researchers try to protect themselves against getting serious injuries and keep on following the gorillas until they realize that the people do not mean any harm.

As these rangers and researchers continue coming face to face with the gorillas, they get used to their presence and instead of running away and attacking they instead keep around and continue doing their daily routine like feeding and sometimes relaxing.

This however does not mean that the gorillas are ready for tourists as at this point, they are just used to the faces of the rangers and the researchers.

To make them used to tourists, 2 to 3 new people start going with some rangers and researchers and when the gorillas are not disturbed, they are then opened to tourist visitation.

The habituation process takes several months and sometimes a year depending on how quickly the mountain gorillas adapt to the changes.

Uganda gorilla habituation

Where to do gorilla habituation in Uganda?

Gorilla habituation is one of the thrilling must-do activities while the Uganda Gorilla Safari offers incredibly awesome unforgettable experiences with the gentle endangered giants of the forest.

Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda only takes place in Rushaga southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its contribution to the conservation of mountain gorillas.

There are 19 gorilla families in the four sectors of Bwindi that tourists can track while on the gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.

Among those, only two gorilla families are currently being habituated in Rushaga the southern sector of the park.

There are only four people permitted a day and only one group undergoes the habituation process.

Difference between gorilla habituation and trekking

The comparison between gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation will be in terms of price, experience, and length or period.

Gorilla trekking involves a group of 8 tourists hiking the forest in search of the already habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat to spend one hour with them while gorilla habituation involves familiarizing themselves with wild gorillas to make them accommodate human interaction and presence.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi allows 8 persons to track a single gorilla family per day, whereas gorilla habituation only allows 4 tourists per gorilla family. This is to minimize the spread of infections and stress on gorillas.

Gorilla trekking activity takes one hour in the presence of a habituated gorilla family after encountering them while gorilla habituation takes four full hours in the presence of these wild gorillas undertaking the habituation process.

Gorilla habituation exercise requires moving with an escort of a ranger, researchers, and habituation experts and doctors because it requires a series of learning procedures, so tourists need these people that are more knowledgeable in handling them. While gorilla trekking activity is done with a guide and a ranger on the adventure.

How much is a gorilla habituation Permit?

Gorilla habituation permits cost USD 1500 per person for foreign nonresidents, and USD 1000 for foreign residents and Ug shs. 750,000 for East African residents.

Gorilla trekking permits cost USD 700 for foreign nonresidents, USD 600 for foreign residents, and Ugshs.250000 for East African citizens.

These permits can be purchased at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices or through a trusted tour operator. Booking in advance for activities is required as they sell out very fast.

Top Uganda Gorilla Habituation Experience Packages

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Things to pack for gorilla habituation

Waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support and grip (to avoid any nasty blisters, ensure you have good walking socks and have worn them before you depart).

Light, breathable, waterproof jackets and trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. Wearing long sleeves and trousers will protect you from insect bites and keep you warm if the weather turns.
Hat and sunglasses.

A lightweight backpack, with enough room for lunch, reusable water bottle, extra layers, snacks, and some essentials like sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream, and lip balm.

Binoculars, so you can spot other wildlife such as birds and monkeys from a distance.
Camera with spare batteries and waterproof covering.

Best time to do gorilla habituation in Uganda.

The gorilla habituation experience can be done throughout the year The two dry seasons, from June to August and again from December to February, are the best times to visit – but you should be prepared for showers at any time of year.

Age Restriction for gorilla habituation and gorilla trekking

Gorilla habituation and gorilla trekking in Uganda is restricted by age.

The appropriate and recommended age for the activities is 15 years. This is because of their reaction toward what they see as they scream or be frightened and fail to make it through the trek.

The childhood diseases that they also carry are a threat to the gorillas as the gorillas can easily be transmitted and deadly to the gorillas.

Where to stay while on gorilla habituation?

Bwindi Impenetrable national park has got fancy hotels with spacious rooms offering different levels of comfort and pricing ranging from basic/budget accommodations to mid-range and up-market/ luxury lodges.

The luxury lodges include Buhoma Lodge, lake Kitandara Camp, Sanctuary gorilla forest camp, and Buhoma community rest Camp among others.

Buhoma gorilla tracking

Getting to Bwindi for gorilla Habituation

Travel from Kampala-Kabale is about 414 Kilometers, about a 5-8 hours’ drive, then Kabale-Kanungu- Kanyantorogo – Buhoma Park Headquarters, about 120 km, a 3.5-hour drive.

Alternatively, you can move from Kampala-Kabale about 414 Km, and then proceed to Ruhija and finally to Buhoma which is 95 kilometers, a three-hour drive.

Drive from Kampala through Mbarara for about 5 hours and then to Queen Elizabeth National Park through the Ishasha sector to the northern parts sector of Bwindi

All those roads converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance gate.

However, the shortest route to do habituation experience Rushaga sector is easily accessible from Kigali Rwanda connecting through the Cyanika border in Kisoro. It takes travelers roughly 3 hours to drive from Rwanda to Uganda.

In conclusion

Gorilla habituation is one of the extraordinary experiences to interact with the powerful and intelligent primates on Earth that offers a memorable once-in-lifetime gorilla experience. Regards! Guma Frank, friendly gorillas safaris.