There’s no such an exhilarating way of learning about the elusive mountain gorillas than with a Gorilla habituation experience. Bwindi Forest in Uganda is the only national park where the gorilla habituation experience can be undertaken by tourists.
It is an opportunity to meet a group of wild gorillas that haven’t been fully habituated and therefore behave like they would before getting familiar with humans. This is a better way of learning the lifestyle of the mountain gorillas within their natural habitat.
Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda is a gorilla safari activity in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla habituation can literally be defined as the process of getting mountain gorillas familiar with the presence of human beings by spending time around them till they are fully not bothered about the presence of humans (habituated) and can go on with their daily lives.
Gorilla habituation is only done in Uganda’s Bwindi forest with a maximum of 4 people are allowed to go for the experience.
Habituation is done in the Rushaga sector of the Bwindi forest of southern Uganda that hosts 51% of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas.
Bikyingi gorilla group is one of the gorilla groups where tourists can have a habituation experience. The group has 21 individuals with 1 silverback, 2 sub-adults, 9 adult females, and 9 infant gorillas. Gorilla habituation is also experienced with the Bushasho gorilla group.
A gorilla habituation process in Uganda may take about 2-3 years for the gorillas to get fully familiar with the presence of human beings.
To get to this stage, researchers and gorilla doctors visit the gorillas every day to learn more about the individual gorillas and behaviors.
With some good time, these gorillas get used to the presence of researchers and they can even get closer to them. After a study of each gorilla individual, they then receive a name.
Following this period, a mock exercise is carried out where several people including scientists, journalists, and others start visiting the gorilla group.
If the gorillas pass the mock exercise then they are referred to as fully habituated and are opened to the public for mountain gorilla trekking.
The minimum age for a gorilla habituation experience is 15 years of age just like it is for gorilla trekking. The rules and regulations for both activities are almost the same with a few and slight alterations that the guides will explain to you as you head out for the trek.
Unlike gorilla trekking where tourists visit fully habituated gorillas to spend a maximum of 1 hour in their presence gorilla habituation takes you on a 4-hour experience with wild gorillas.
The advantage with the gorilla habituation experience is that clients spend about 4 hours with the mountain gorillas which is more time to learn about these rare apes only living in their natural habitat.
The cost of the Uganda gorilla habituation permit is 1500 USD each for a chance of spending about 4 hours in the forest.
The gorilla habituation experience permit is much more expensive than the gorilla trekking permit that goes for 700 USD since you spend much more time in the forest during habituation.
Habituation is available daily and it starts at 7:30 am local time, unlike gorilla trekking that starts at around 8:30 after the briefing.
If you are going for the mountain gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi forest National Park then you must be ready to wake up early and be at the park headquarters by at least 7:00 am.
You, therefore, have to spend the night in an accommodation facility within the Rushaga sector since you will have to wake up much early.
To have a gorilla habituation experience you need to book your permit as early as six months before the trekking date since the permits are few.
You do not have to worry, do this at least months early by contacting Acacia Safaris Uganda for all of your bookings. You can have a gorilla habituation safari as the only activity on your trip or tailor it with Uganda wildlife safari activities for a much greater experience.
Here are some of the recommended itineraries that tourists can choose when going on the East Africa safari.