Getting the opportunity to take part in the habituation of mountain gorillas is an amazing experience, with this activity you have a chance to spend up to 4 hours with mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park-Rushaga sector
Before a gorilla family is open to tourists and other visitors it has to first undergo a habituation process which takes about 2 years continuously of mountain gorilla habituation process is done by professional researchers and well-experienced rangers, a few years ago Uganda wildlife Authority introduced this new activity of gorilla habituation experience whereby 4 tourists are an opportunity to take part in mountain gorilla habituation process.
Yes like many other wild animals mountain gorillas naturally fear humans and when approached sometimes can become aggressive and charge at you, this is because they are not used to human presence so the habituation process is to make them get used to human’s presence in their natural habitat before a group of gorillas can be open to tourism.
The gorilla habituation process also involves the naming of all individual in the gorilla group that is under habituation by researchers and rangers who visits a gorilla group/family daily in a non-threatening manner, the main purpose of this is to find different ways how to communicate with the mountain gorillas and see the different behaviors of different individuals in the group. The team doing habituation the first thing usually want is to first win the favor of the dominant silverback (male), once the silverback allows getting close to him then it is easy to get close to other family members.
an American primatologist and conservationist Dr. Dian Fossey started the Mountain gorilla habituation process in 1967, Dian Fossey ensured the survival of mountain gorillas for generations to come before she was murdered in December 1985, among the things she did include range mapping, research activities, data collection that helped Government of Uganda, Rwanda and DR-Congo to being implemented to conserve the mountain gorillas in its natural habitat.
Mountain gorilla habituation helps in research, monitoring, and conservation programs like routine health checkups on the gorillas, studying the social behaviors of different individuals, and security and feeding habits among other activities that take place during the gorilla habituation process
As we talk about gorilla habituation in Bwindi from Kigali, we all know that there is normal gorilla tracking in Uganda, Uganda, Rwanda, and DR-Congo but the experience of gorilla habituation can only be got in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest national park so now let us compare normal trekking and habituation experience
Apart from the usual gorilla trekking that people know, a few years ago in 2014 Uganda introduced a new activity in the Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors of the south of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, with gorilla habituation only 4 tourists are given a chance daily to participate in gorilla habituation process for four hours under the guidance of well-trained rangers and professional researchers while normal gorilla trekking only 8 people are allowed to trek already habituated gorilla family/group each day and once you find them you can only watch the gorillas for only one hour compared to 4 hours of viewing if you are on habituation experience.
When you on the gorilla habituation process, you get the opportunity to learn more about mountain gorilla’s way of life from the researchers, take more videos and amazing photos, see them as their interactions with each other and get a chance to see silverback gorillas have sex as the young ones playing humping from tree to tree, feeding, build nests and also see the young gorillas being trained by the mothers and silverbacks.
During gorilla habituation tourists gets a chance to understand the role each individual gorilla plays in the family/group, mountain gorilla habituation experience permit costs $1500 per person for 4 hours with under habituated gorilla family/group while a normal gorilla trekking permit costs only $700 per person for one hour with already habituated gorilla family/group, therefore normal gorilla trekking is less expensive than the habituation experience but I can assure you, either way, you go trekking or habituation the cost is worth it.
Clients who have booked for gorilla habituation experience have to report to the Rushaga sector offices of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park for a briefing from the team of rangers and researchers who will take you through procedures before you enter the forest for the habituation process starting at 7:00 am while the normal trekking starts at 8:00 am.
The minimum age for both gorilla trekking and habituation experience is 15 years and above, all tourists and other visitors taking part in both trekking and habituation must be physically fit to be able to hike up and down as you flow the gorillas in the dense Bwindi impenetrable forest of Uganda.
Kisoro Tours recommends to all its estimated clients to book their trekking or habituation permits at least 6 months in advance, gorilla permits can be booked directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority at their head office in Kampala or at their office in Kisoro but the best way I would recommend that you book through a local tour operator like us because it easier to communicate with tour operator than Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Take NOTE: anyone with any human diseases like flue will not be around to take part in either habituation or trekking because it is a big threat to mountain gorillas due to the fact that mountain gorillas share 98% DNA with humans.
Either trekking or habituation experience it can be done at any time throughout the year but some visitors prefer visiting Uganda during the dry season also known as the high season in the months of June, July, August, September, October, December, and January. There is also a wet season also known as the low season in the months of February, March, April, May, and November, the above are the two main tourism seasons of tourism in Uganda however there is no wealth that can stop you from trekking or habituation.
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