Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla habituation is the process through which mountain gorillas get used to human beings when they have visited them in their natural habitat. This process usually takes 2-3 years and normally involves a knowledgeable and experienced team from the Uganda Wildlife Authority who make frequent visits to the specific gorilla family that is going through the habituation process.
Gorilla Habituation process
Upon establishing that a particular group is used to humans, it will be open to visitors for tourism. The process sometimes takes around five years to get accustomed to human presence. Park rangers spend a short period with the mountain gorillas every day and at a certain distance which represents the limit of the mountain gorillas‘ comfort zone. As time goes by, they increase the time and reduce the distance until these gorillas are ready to be visited by tourists.
Habituation of the wild mountain gorillas has in recent years been a tool for conservation and research programs and the decisions to habituate the gorillas reflect a balance of benefits and costs. Benefits include generating revenue through tourism, local communities and businesses. This also enables detailed research on feeding, social behaviour and ecology.
It enables gorilla health monitoring, a mechanism for examining trends in population dynamics through monitoring births and deaths as well as dispersal patterns
Costs for Gorilla Habituation Experience
- There is an increased risk of disease through exposure to humans
- Increased risk of poaching due to loss of fear of humans.
- It is expensive in a way that it requires financial resources and staff to keep an eye on the habituated mountain gorillas as a long-life commitment.
Cost of Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda
A mountain gorilla habituation permit costs USD1,500 per person and visitors are allowed to stay with these gentle giants for 4 hours whereby only eight habituation permits are issued per day. There are only two gorilla families currently where the gorilla habituation experience takes place. This gorilla habituation experience started in 2016 and has been taken by few people compared to normal gorilla tracking.
Gorilla habituation is done only in the Rushaga sector in the Southern sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park and only two gorilla groups are available for this experience.
The gorilla habituation experience starts at exactly 7:30 am, unlike normal trekking which starts at 8:30 am. This starts with a briefing at the trailhead before embarking on the journey to the jungle. The habituation experience includes rangers and researchers also taking part in the exercise. The age group for people who are supposed to take part in the gorilla habituation experience is from 15 years and above.
Best time to go for Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can be accessed all year round. There are two dry seasons that is from June to August and again from December to February though rain can be expected at any time of the year.
From March to May, the forest gets the most rain and seeing the mountain gorillas during this period offers a great advantage for good photographs as the park around this time is green.
Where to stay
There are a lot of accommodation options within and around the national park and these range from Luxury, midrange and best budget. Any of these can be arranged according to the tourist’s budget.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The park is strategically situated in South Western Uganda and can be accessed either by road or by air.
From Entebbe International Airport, you can drive on road for 9hous via Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale then to Bwindi.
Tourists can access by using an aircraft from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield and can be dropped in either Kihihi or Bwindi airstrips both of which are close to Bwindi. The flights are daily and can take about 30 minutes.