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Uganda Gorilla Habituation Experience

Uganda Gorilla Habituation - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Gorilla Habituation Experience in Rushaga and Nkuringo area, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

A brief about Gorilla Habituation Experience

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has currently 12 habituated gorilla families which include 3 groups in Buhoma sector (Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura), 4 groups in Ruhija sector (Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro A and Kyaguliro B), 4 groups in   Rushaga area (Kahungye, Bweza, Nshongi, Busingye) and 1 group in Nkuringo sector (Nkuringo group).

In addition to the above 12 groups, there are two other semi-habituated gorilla families that have been put aside for gorilla habituation experience and are located in the Nkuringo and Rushaga side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Gorilla Habituation Experience is a newest gorilla tourism package in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The package was introduced in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park through Uganda Wildlife Authority to all interested clients effective 1st January 2014. This new experience is designed to allow a small number of tourists to spend more time with mountain gorillas during their habituation. This is the first time UWA has allowed visitors to join the researchers and habituators. The package is only available in Uganda and only for two groups; Bikingi group in Rushaga area and Bushaho group in Nkuringo area (all the two areas are in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park). The gorilla habituation experience is different from a regular gorilla trek in several ways including group size, time spent with the gorillas and price. The activity involves spending all day on a Trek in Forest which includes 4 hours with a Gorilla Family being habituated. A total of 4 visitors can track a group, unlike a normal Gorilla Trek where you have 8 participants on a Gorilla Trek. The habituation experience can involve some more difficult trekking, clients interested in the experience should have a reasonable level of fitness to participate.

Gorilla Habituation in simple terms?

Gorillas are naturally afraid of humans and typically will flee or aggressively charge if people get too close to them. The gorillas that are visited by people have undergone “habituation”. This refers to the process, where through daily peaceful contact with humans, gorillas have slowly lost their strong fear of humans and have learned to view them as neutral beings in their environment.

Habituating a group of mountain gorillas usually takes about two years. To habituate a group, they must be tracked and monitored on a daily basis, and slowly over time, the gorillas develop a trustful relationship with observers. The habituation of mountain gorillas is a lengthy and difficult process, ultimately resulting in the gorillas losing their natural fear of humans. Initially the gorillas are fearful of humans and will run away. In the next phase, the gorillas stop fleeing, but may respond to the presence of humans with aggressive charges and other negative behavior that is indicative of stress and not feeling comfortable with human presence.  Finally, the gorillas will react calmly to humans being in their midst and go about their normal activities with only minimal acknowledgement of humans being present. It is only at this last stage that the gorillas can be considered habituated and it is appropriate to start bringing visitors to see them.

What you need to know about Gorilla Habituation Experience. How is it different from the normal gorilla tracking?

  • The package is only available in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga and Nkuringo areas and is not available in Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  • The current gorilla groups available (2016-2016) for Gorilla Habituation Experience are Bikingi group in Rushaga and Bushaho group in Nkuringo (Bushaho group attimes move towards Rushaga, and tracking may start from Rushaga).
  • Those going for this experience should expect to visit semi habituated mountain gorillas which can decide to hide, behave in a manner which is not usual and the experience can be stopped upon advise from researchers.
  • With mountain gorilla habituation experience, clients will be moving with researchers/those who habituate gorillas, spend more time and see how gorillas are habituated.
  • You spend 4 hours with the Mountain Gorillas instead of one as in normal tracking. Usually, tracking starts at 7:30am at Rushaga or Nkuringo, depending on the group you are visiting.
  • Only 4 visitors are allowed per day per group compared with the 8 visitors for the normal Gorilla Trekking.
  • You spend more time with the gorillas. For this activity, you spend 4 hours with a Gorilla Family being habituated instead of 1 hour. Considering that you spend about two or more hours searching for the gorillas, you have a full day.
  • In terms of cost, a permit for Gorilla Habituation Permit is 1500USD per person per day compared to 600USD for the normal gorilla tracking.
  • All the rules and etiquette of gorilla tracking, including clothing and foot wears apply to the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

How do I do the booking?

Due to the limited number of participants allowed each day and the interest in the activity, bookings for the Gorilla Habituation Permits must be done well in advance. Please note that the minimum age of Gorilla Habituation Experience is 15 years. For your convenience, we will book you Gorilla Habituation Experience through Uganda Wildlife Authority; We will let you know within one working day as to the availability of the Gorilla Habituation Experience Permit. In order to process your permit, we shall need your passport information.  Contact us now!

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