Gorilla Habituation in Uganda
Gorilla habituation in Uganda is a process where the wild gorillas are trained to become familiar with the human presence in the forests of Bwindi. Gorilla habituation experience is an interesting and fascinating activity that allows visitors who are 15 years of age and above to participate in the habituation process for four hours and habituation itself takes about two to three years.
Where to go for Gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation in Uganda is a unique experience that takes place in the Rushaga sector which is situated in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a protected area that harbors over 400 mountain gorillas which is equivalent to half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park is a home of 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors namely Rushaga sector with 8 families which are Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, Bikyingi, Mucunguzi and Rwigi family, Buhoma sector in the northern part with 4 habituated families namely Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe, Nkuringo sector in the south with 3 habituated families namely Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas and Ruhija sector with 4 habituated families namely Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro and Mukiza family. However Bwindi Impenetrable forest is the only destination in Uganda and Africa where gorilla habituation process takes place which makes Uganda an exceptional gorilla destination that offers thrilling and magical experiences on your safari as you take part in the gorilla habituation process.
Gorilla habituation process in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Gorilla habituation experience was introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority for the visitors to get involved in the habituation process and it’s currently being carried out in the Rushaga sector in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. There is presently one gorilla family under habituation which is called the Kutu family. Kutu is a gorilla family that is comprised of 8 individuals with one dominant silverback as the head of the family. Gorilla habituation process in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park takes a period of 2 to 3 years and involves a team of researchers, trackers, conservationists, rangers, guides among others. Gorilla habituation only allows a maximum of 4 visitors to join the researchers in the habituation process, unlike gorilla trekking which allows a maximum of 8 visitors.
Gorilla habituation process starts early in the morning at 7:30 am with a briefing which is done early at the park headquarters in Rushaga where you will be told about the expectations, safety measures and the rules to follow while in the forest and in the presence of the gorillas. After the briefing you will move in the forest to the gorilla family where you will get an opportunity to participate in the activity through observing the gorillas, making calls, monitoring the gorilla behaviors, naming of the gorilla individuals among others.
During gorilla habituation, the researchers keep on visiting the gorilla group on a daily basis and with time the gorillas will develop a trustful relationship with the researchers or get used to them. Once the researchers are sure or certain that the gorillas can trek they will introduce the gorilla group to a mock exercise to test it and the mock exercise involves some people such as scientists, journalists among others to start visiting the gorilla family and when it passes the mock exercise it will be open for trekking, therefore, added on the number of habituated gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.
How long do you spend with the Gorillas during gorilla habituation process
Gorilla habituation process in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park allows a maximum of 4 visitors who will spend 4 hours with the gorilla family being habituated unlike gorilla trekking in other sectors of the park which allow visitors to spend one hour in the presence of the habituated gorilla families. During the four hours, you will participate in the habituation process whereby you will be able to observe the gorillas, monitor their behaviors, take plenty of photos with flashless camera and record all the moments which gives you breathtaking experiences on your safari in Uganda.
Cost of a Gorilla habituation permit in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
A gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person for the Foreign Non Residents and Foreign Residents unlike the Uganda gorilla trekking permit which costs $600 for the Foreign Non Residents and $500 for the foreign residents.
How to book for a Gorilla habituation permit
A Gorilla habituation permit in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority offices a government tourism body in Uganda where you will contact the offices via email or telephone calls or you can book via a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking via Achieve Global Safaris you will contact us with the date, month and year when you want to engage in gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park. We will then check the availability of the permit and get back to you; you will then send your scanned copies of the passport which will be used to acquire the permit and an invoice to make deposit payments of the permit. Once the payments have been made we will secure your gorilla habituation permit and send you scanned copies as confirmation.
However, a gorilla habituation permit should be booked 6 months in advance before the gorilla habituation process date because the permits are few and competitive especially during the peak season in the months of June, July, August, December, January, and February.
Best time to go for Gorilla habituation experience
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be visited anytime throughout the year for gorilla habituation experience though the best time is during the dry season which is also known as the peak season in the months of June to August and December to February. This is the best time in that in the dry season the forest receives less rainfall and the trails to the gorilla under the habituation process will not be muddy or slippery therefore when trekking they will be passable hence making habituation successful. However due to the fact that Bwindi Impenetrable forest is a tropical rainforest it can rain any time regardless of the season and since visitors will be spending a lot of time in the jungle they are encouraged to pack different safari items such as waterproof rain jacket, hiking shoes, garden gloves, insect repellent, long sleeved shirt and trousers, backpack, energy snacks, hiking shoes among others.
The dry /peak season is the best time for gorilla habituation experience though the permits will be competitive hence visitors should book in advance before the habituation date so as to avoid disappointments.
How different is Gorilla habituation experience from Gorilla trekking
Gorilla habituation experience is the process where wild gorillas are trained to get used to the human presence for trekking while gorilla trekking is an activity where visitors move in the dense tropical forests in search of the habituated gorilla families.
Gorilla habituation process is only done in Rushaga sector in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park while gorilla trekking activity is carried out in all the sectors is Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga national park in Uganda and other destinations namely Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla habituation experience allows a maximum of 4 visitors per day to participate in the habituation process while gorilla trekking allows a maximum of 8 visitors to visit each habituated gorilla family in any of the destinations.
Gorilla habituation experience allows visitors to spend a maximum of 4 hours with the gorillas in their natural habit as the monitor their behaviors, naming each individual, taking photos among others while gorilla trekking allows visitors to spend a maximum of 1 hour with the habituated gorilla family learning more about the gorillas and taking photos.
Gorilla habituation experience costs $1500 per person while gorilla trekking activity coasts $600 per person.
During the gorilla habituation process the visitors will move with a team of researchers, rangers, guides among others to the gorilla family under habituation while during gorilla trekking the visitors will only move with guides and park rangers to the habituated gorilla family.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable forest for gorilla habituation experience
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district and Rushaga sector where the gorilla habituation process takes place is located in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest. Therefore the Rushaga sector can either be accessed by road or air transport means:
- Air transport: Rushaga sector can be reached by air transport means whereby you will book domestic flights like Aero link airline from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip which takes 2 hours and from Kisoro airstrip you will connect by road to Rushaga headquarters. Domestic flights to the Rushaga sector can be booked through Achieve Global Safaris.
- Road transport: Rushaga sector can be reached by road whereby you will drive from Kampala City via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale and then Rushaga park headquarters which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive. There are also public means of transport where you will board a bus from Kampala to Kabale and then hire a private vehicle to the Rushaga sector.
Rushaga sector can also be accessed from Kigali where you will fly to Kigali International Airport and then connect to the Rushaga sector by road which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive. This is, however, the best alternative to use in that it will save you the long-distance drive from Kampala to the Rushaga sector which takes about 8 to 9 hours.
Gorilla habituation process in Rushaga sector Bwindi Impenetrable national park will give you an opportunity to interact face to face with the gorillas as you learn more about their behaviors, habits among others which give you unforgettable memories and lifetime experiences on your safari in Uganda.