Gorilla Habituation Safaris in Uganda

It is only in Uganda where you can go on a Mountain Gorilla Habituation Safari and that presently with is with two gorilla groups being habituated in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

The good news is that you can easily access Rushaga not only from points in Uganda but you can do so taking a short drive from Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Rushaga Area.

Gorilla Habituation Experience Safaris can be any safari that now includes Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  You can adjust the safari to include the Habituation Experience – depending on permit availability which is quite limited compared to normal Trekking.

GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE

A gorilla habituation experience is the process where wild mountain gorillas made to get used to the presence of humans. In Uganda, gorilla habituation is only done in the southern area of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Rushaga sector. Mountain gorilla habituation experience was introduced to all interested clients on 1st January 2014. For those interested to spend more time with mountain gorillas compared to gorilla trekking which is restricted to only one hour. It true that gorilla trekking can take three quarters of the day but this involves trek to and from the gorillas but the actual time spent with the gorillas for observation and photography is only one hour. But for the case of habituation experience, clients will be moving with researchers/those who habituate gorillas, spend more time and see how gorillas are trained to get used to humans. This experience is likely to attract more tourists since your spend more time (Four hours) compared to those interested in doing two treks. The most outstanding thing with gorilla habituation experience is that tourists visit a semi habituated mountain gorillas which can decide to hide, behave in a manner which is not usual and the experience can be stopped upon advice from researchers. Therefore, tourists have a chance to observe the real life styles and behaviors of gorillas before they are habituated for tourists to visit. Before you choose to go for gorilla habituation experience please read much and ask from your local tour operator for all what is required to make a gorilla habituation safari in Uganda.

The Main Reason that the Gorilla Habituation Experience has become so popular since its beginning is that Gorilla Trekkers have more Time with the Great Apes in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. That more time us the primary reason that over 60% of our Clients choose the Habituation Experience,

The one-of-a-kind Gorilla Habituation Experience where you are able to spend 4-hours with a Gorilla Family plus the time it takes to and from the location where the Gorilla Group is making it an all-day Trek in the Rushaga – Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The Gorilla Habituation Trail head is in a different spot than the normal Park entrances of Rushaga or Nkuringo – Drive time from Nkuringo is 45 minutes and less from Rushaga.

The Cost for a Permit for the Gorilla Habituation Experience is 1,500 USD, 900 USD more than the cost for a normal trekking permit which allows you to be 1-Hour with a Gorilla Group.

Only 4 Visitors are allowed per day compared to 8 for a normal Gorilla Trek and there are only 2 Groups that can be visited for this activity.

One thing is certain, the Habituation Experience is a one of a kind, exclusive Activity in which only a select few can participate in. It is also a learning experience where you receive firsthand insights from the researchers, trackers, rangers, conservationists, who are all part of the Habituation Process Team.

This incredible Experience with the Mountain Gorillas must be booked well in Advance since there are only 4 visitors per group allowed.  This is unlike a normal Gorilla Trek where you have 8 participants and are only one hour with a gorilla family.

If you like to be with the Gorillas for 4 hours – Book the Gorilla Habituation Experience with Africa Adventure Vacations, Uganda’s Leading Gorilla Habituation Experience Tour Operator at least 6 months ahead, especially if you plan to come during the Peak Seasons which are from July through October and December through March of the year because of the limited number of permits that are available unlike normal Gorilla Trekking.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience in the Rushaga Area – Bwindi Forest in Uganda can be booked in Uganda for 2018 and 2019. It is better to book the permit for gorilla habituation experience at least 6 months in advance to avoid last minute time panics and it is only 4 Permits for each group are issued out per day.

Gorilla habituation rules and regulations in Uganda

 Anyone below age of 15 is not permitted to trek gorillas.

 Anyone suffering from a communicable disease, such as the flu or diarrhea, is not permitted to enter the park because of the risk of transmitting these diseases onto the gorillas.

 You should always stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas – do not surround them.

 Avoid making loud noises or moving suddenly while trekking gorillas.

 The use of flash photography while trekking gorillas is not allowed.

 It is not permitted to eat, drink and smoke when with the gorillas, or within 200 metres from them.

 You should not get closer than seven metres of the gorillas.

What to bring for the habituation experience

 Light rain jacket

 Camera and extra batteries

 Packed lunch and drinks

 The correct attire (long pants, long sleeve-shirts, hat, etc.)

 Gloves (garden gloves)

 Hiking boots

 Walking stick

GORILLA HABITUATION PROCESS IN UGANDA

Uganda and Rwanda in particular have several mountain gorilla families habituated for purposes of tourism and research. The mountain gorilla habituation can take from two to three years to be completed. Habituation in Uganda is done by a group of researchers, who operated under the department of Research and monitoring under Uganda Wildlife Authority,

The exercise involves visiting a chosen family of wild gorillas every day until it gets used to these researchers. With time, all gorilla individuals are identified in terms of their sex, age and later given names. Once researchers are confident enough that these gorillas can be visited by tourists, they conduct a mock exercise/trips for six to eight months. Once this is successful, then the habituated family is opened for tourism.

Since 1993, about 12 gorilla groups and families have been adapted for tourism and research and of these are Mubare Gorilla group which was habituated and opened for tourism in the same year. Mubare became the first gorilla group to be trekked by tourists which later paved way to other families for habituation. In Buhoma region, two more families were added on to Mubare and these are Rushegura which in most cases is closer to the Park head Quarters and then Habinyanja gorillas group.

In the nearby eastern region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, three gorilla families are now habituated and they include Bitukura group, Oruzogo and then Kyaguriro which is meant for research. In the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there has been lots of dynamics where the few habituated gorilla families have split up to give to new families. In total, Rushaga region has Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza while in Nkuringo, we do have one habituated gorilla family in the names of Nkuringo group.

In the Virunga Ranges that are shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo, over 14 gorillas familes have been habituated with one gorilla family called Nyakagezi located in Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, about 10 or so gorilla groups located in Volocanoes National Park in Rwanda where most of these gorillas are spread in popular volcanic mountains which include Mgahinga, Muhavura, Sabimyo, Karusimbi and Bisoke among others. The other familes habituated for tourism are in Democratic republic of Congo in the extensive Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National park is on and off because of the political instabilities that are a characteristic of the eastern part of this vast country.

Where does the Habituation Experience Take Place in Uganda?

  • In 2018 – The Habituation Experience takes place only in the Rushaga – Nkuringo area of southern Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
  • You cannot do the Gorilla Habituation in any other part of the park but the Rushaga – Nkuringo area and that only in Uganda.

How is the Gorilla Habituation Experience different from Trekking?

  • You have a chance to stay with Mountain Gorillas for hours instead of one. Your day starts at 7:30 AM at the Gorilla Habituation Trail head and you return in the late Afternoon. Your day begins with a briefing from the Uganda Wildlife Authority Staff and the Research – Habituation Team. The most significant thing you get a chance to watch mountain gorillas when are not yet made habituated for tourists.
  • The Habituation Experience is limited to 4 participants per group compared with 8 for normal Gorilla Trekking.

How to book a Gorilla Habituation Permit?

Minimum Age of 15 applies as it does for normal Trekking in Uganda.

  • Book your Gorilla Habituation Experience – Rushaga Area – Bwindi Forest at 1,500 USD as part of the Safari separately and you can do this through your local tour operator since they are always informed about the available permits by UWA
  • Bookings for the Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits must be done well in advance due to the limited number of participants (4) allowed each day and the interest in the activity by Visitors to Uganda.
  • Passport information (scan) is required for the permit as it is for Trekking.
  • The Permit Cost of 1500 USD includes the Park Entrance Fee for the day.