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GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE

Gorilla Habituation Experience, Have you ever tracked the mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo? If yes, you are probably aware that after several hours of trekking in difficulty and anticipation for these giant apes you can only spend one hour. But do you know you can actually have the chance to spend more time (four hours) with the mountain gorillas with the new Gorilla Habituation Experience?

Only offered in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was introduced in 2014 to allow tourists spend more time watching mountain gorillas undergoing habituation compared to the one hour tourists have during normal gorilla treks. This process is when they are trained to become accustomed to human presence and usually lasts 2-3 years.

Just like the usual gorilla trekking adventures, tourists will be required to wake up early (a little bit earlier) but With the Gorilla Habituation Experience, tourists follow researchers who habituate gorillas. Therefore with this experience, tourists will be visiting semi-habituated gorillas that might run on seeing visitors but with time get used to coming face to face with tourists who visit them from time to time. While on this activity, tourists get to learn about individual gorilla behavior, participate in naming them and once all this is done, there will be a mock exercise including tourists, journalists, researchers and scientists, and once passed the family is opened for trekking.

There are over 20 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi’s four sectors-Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo but the last two sectors are open for the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Cost of the  Permits

Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits cost $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and Shs 750,000 for East African Community residents. These rates include Park entrance fees, range/guide fees and your contribution towards community development.

Guidelines for the Gorilla Habituation Experience

The guidelines for gorilla trekking also apply to the Gorilla Habituation Experience with some few variations and these include;

Minimum age  is 15 years and there is no maximum age.

The maximum number of tourists to visit a particular gorilla family for the Habituation Experience is four (4) persons.

Do not visit a Gorilla family if you have a cold, flue or any other infectious/communicable disease.

Maintain a distance of 7 meters from the mountain gorillas.

Tourist visits are limited to four hours per gorilla family undergoing Habituation.

Avoid using flash cameras for photography.

Avoid eating, drinking and smoking while trekking or when in the presence of the Mountain gorilla family.

Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and turn away from the mountain gorillas to reduce chances of them catching the cold or cough.

Best time for the Experience

The Gorilla Habituation Experience is conducted all year round but to achieve the best out of the activity, it’s better to know which time is best for it. The traditional dry season-January, February, June, July, August, September and December receive less rainfall with forest trails being less muddy and slippery hence making it perfect for the Gorilla habituation Experience.

The wet season-March, April, May, October, November and mid-December receive heavy rains with forest trails being muddy and slippery thus avoided by tourists. However even with the heavy rains, it later shines thus rains cannot disrupt the activity. Also, there is plenty of food for the mountain gorillas during this time and tourists will spend a shorter time to trek for them.

What to carry for your  trip

Your Gorilla Habituation Experience packing list should have 2-3 pairs of trousers, 2-3 long sleeved shirts, gardening gloves, a sweater, waterproof backpack, rain jacket, sunscreen/sunglasses, strong hiking boots, cotton socks, a hat, bandana, toiletries (especially toothpaste, toothbrush, hair gel, sanitary towels for female travellers, deodorant, hair combs and lotion), first-aid kit and insect repellant among others.

Where to stay during your trip

The accommodation facilities you choose for the Trip should be within Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors where the activity takes place. Therefore choose from the Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Safari Lodge and many others.

Other tourist activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Besides the Gorillas Habituation Experience, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers other tourist activities such as Gorilla trekking, butterfly watching, biking/cycling, Cultural tours, bird watching and nature walks/hiking.

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