Gorilla Habituation Experience In Uganda

Gorilla Habituation is a tense thrilling experience which is only done in Bwindi Impenetrable National park in Uganda. The Gorilla habituation experience is an incredibly memorable experience from hiking through the rainforest in search of the world’s gentle giants to encountering one gorilla family as well as taking part in gently introducing them to the sight and presence of humans.

Silver back gorilla
Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi National Park

What is gorilla Habituation?

Gorilla Habituation is the process of gently introducing wild mountain gorillas to the sight and presence of humans for research, care, and conservation purposes. This process has helped in a way that gorillas lose their fear of humans by ignoring the presence of humans hence humans can now understand gorillas as they display their human-like behaviors such as laughter and sadness.

A number of tourists are allowed to participate in gorilla habituation.

Gorilla habituation is done by a group of people however only four tourists are allowed during this process and they are accompanied by park rangers, expert Researchers, gorilla doctors, local trackers, and conservationists.

How many gorilla groups are available for the gorilla habituation experience?

Only 2 gorilla groups are available for gorilla habituation experience namely; Bikingi gorilla group found in the Rushaga sector which is composed of 18 members including 1 silverback, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 black backs, and 7 infants. The other group is the Bushaho gorilla group found in the Rushaga sector which is made up of 12 members led by a Bahati silver back however it split from the Nkuringo gorilla group which is found in the Nkuringo sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National park.

How long does gorilla habituation take?

Gorilla Habituation takes approximately two to three years because the entire process involves naming the gorilla group and individuals and studying their behaviors by constantly visiting and monitoring these gorillas however this process is at first done by a few researchers, gorilla doctors, park rangers, and conservationists before including tourists because there are several tests done in order for the gorillas to be managed and controlled for the safety of gorillas and tourists.

Gorilla Habituation experience during a gorilla safari.

Gorilla habituation is done early in the morning whereby tourists go for a briefing about the expectations, rules, and regulations during the habituation process and when tourists encounter the gorilla group face to face, tourists are allowed to spend four hours observing the gorilla as well as taking photos using flashless cameras since the flashlight tend to irritate them.

Where gorilla habituation takes place.

Gorilla habituation is only done in Uganda and it takes place in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park known as the Rushaga sector it is always better to choose a lodge/hotel that is near the trailhead or within the gorilla habituation sector which is Rushaga though some tourists tend not to mind about it.

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park
A Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi Forest National Park

When to go for gorilla habituation

The best time to go for gorilla habituation is during the dry season from June to August, and December to February however it is done throughout the year. The dry season is more favorable because the rainforest receives less rain, and the trails to the gorillas that are under habituation are easily navigated hence making the experience less challenging and difficult. The other reason is that Gorillas are scared of water, especially the big water masses, and when it rains they retreat into the dense forests to seek shelter from the heavy downpour

Cost of gorilla habituation permit.

A gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person and this is the standard cost set for gorilla habituation its cost is different from that of gorilla trekking since tourists spend four hours with these endangered mountain gorillas unlike during gorilla trekking where tourists only spend one hour observing the gorillas.

Who issues gorilla habituation permits?

Gorilla habituation permits are issued by only one organization called Uganda Wildlife Authority which allows you to embark on a gorilla safari and be part of the process of gently introducing these endangered mountain gorillas to human presence.

How to book a gorilla habituation permit.

Gorilla permits can be easily booked through a trusted licensed tour company like Enjoy Safaris Africa by directly calling or sending an email to make a gorilla habituation permit reservation which is easier and favorable to tourists who are out of Uganda or you can as well contact Uganda Wildlife Authority offices to book and take you through the process of booking the permit. 

How many habituation permits are always issued per day?

Uganda Wildlife Authority currently issues 160 gorilla permits per day however these are split into gorilla habituation permits as well as gorilla trekking permits depending on the level of demand that’s why it is always better to book in advance to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and losses.

What age is suitable for the gorilla habituation experience?

When it comes to gorilla habituation, age matters where the minimum age for a gorilla habituation experience is 15 years and above. Uganda wildlife authority cannot issue a gorilla habituation permit for a person below the age of 15 years because of the mountainous terrains which make it very difficult and challenging for the young ones to handle. The age verification is done since booking a gorilla habituation permit requires a passport. This applies to gorilla trekking permits as well.

Is the gorilla habituation experience safe?

Yes. Gorilla habituation experience is very safe because tourists are accompanied by experienced park rangers, researchers, local trackers, and gorilla doctors, and luckily these keep a keen eye on both tourists and gorillas so, in case of anything, they know how to handle any situation concerning gorillas to ensure safety for both humans and gorillas. There are rules and guidelines put in place to be followed in order to avoid or prevent humans from irritating the gorillas and the most important rule is to keep a safe distance of 6-8 meters away from these gentle giants.

Things are needed while going for gorilla habituation.

There are certain things needed while going for a gorilla habituation experience in Uganda namely;

  • Face masks and sanitizer basically for coronavirus (covid-19) prevention
  • You must carry a decent waterproof jacket to help you in case it rains during the gorilla habituation
  • Long pants and long-sleeved shirts with long socks protect your skin at all times from thorny branches and insect bites during the habituation process.
  • A pair of outdoor gloves will prevent your hands from getting dirty and prickles on your way when clearing your path
  • Comfortable trekking boots which are waterproof and mid-rise ankle to provide good ankle support
  • Pack an insect repellent that will protect you from insect bites that can cause skin irritation and serious illness. You are as well advised to avoid wearing blue or black clothes because these colors attract tsetse flies.
  • Snacks like cookies nuts, seeds, and fruits as well as salty snacks like potato chips in order to keep your body fueled with enough calories to keep hiking 
  • Biodegradable tissue or toilet paper
  • A waterproof flexible backpack so that you can carry water bottles, snacks, and other necessities. Extra batteries for cameras or power banks are also useful
  • Trekking poles will assist you in walking by providing stability and reducing straining of the joints.

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