A lifetime dream for many, this is a unique opportunity to spend quality time observing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat before their group is opened to tourism. This activity only operates in the Rushaga region of Bwindi and is in operation for a limited time only.
Although the habituation process has been on-going for many years, the idea of opening it up for public participation is relatively new and there still considered a pilot project. Nobody knows how long it will be available but there are presently two Gorilla groups under study.
You will join researchers and experienced rangers who make up a select group to follow their allocated Gorilla study as they undergo the habituation process. The experience is currently priced at $1,500 per person and includes park fees. The Gorillas have been followed since 2015 and rangers gradually increase the time spent near to them to allow them to become used to human visitors.
It is a very delicate process, habituation usually lasts up to 5-6 years. Only two gorilla families are available for the habituation experience. These are in the Rushaga sector. The terrain is steep and vegetation is dense. A good level of fitness is required since pathways are cut as you move. The porters and researchers are used to the terrain and you will be expected to hike at a reasonable pace. However porters may be hired for assistance.
The experience allows you to spend a maximum of 4 hours with the Gorillas under habituation. This time excludes the time taken to reach them. Unlike normal gorilla trekking which starts around 8:30am the habituation leaves a little earlier – expect to leave around 7:30am. You will learn about the habituation process and study how the Gorillas react to human presence. mostly you just help to get them used to people but the researchers are getting to know the Gorillas, their personalities, and importantly who is in charge and how the Silverback leads his group.
They also study the health of the Gorillas and involve the Gorilla doctors if any show signs of illness. Habituation is limited to just 4 tourists (unlike normal treks which are operated in groups of 8 people). It is a fascinating to identify yourself standing in the dense rain forest with a few of the only left mountain gorillas. It is incredible to think that only around 900 mountain gorillas are left in the whole world. The entire guidance on trekking, clothing, and preparations for the safari will be issued upon booking.
This is a unique opportunity to be part of a landmark wildlife process and play a part in protecting these Great Apes