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What is a Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda like?

Posted by on March 25, 2021

Is the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda for you?

The Answers to the Question “What is a Gorilla Habituation Experience?”

Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda

The Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is only offered in Uganda and has become the preferred way to spend time with the Forest’s Gentle Giants.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience was not created to be a significant Gorilla Tourism offering like regular trekking. It is an exclusive experience for Primate Enthusiasts that want beyond what a traditional trek offers.

The reality is that the Habituation Experience may not be suitable for you. Often it is more challenging and takes longer than a regular trek. It often is more physically demanding. Permits are $1,500 instead of $700. 

David Attenborough’s words reflect the sentiment of many who have participated in the Gorilla Habituation Experience. “Spending time with these gentle creatures in their natural habitat was a profoundly moving experience.”

David Attenborough’s words reflect the sentiment of many who have participated in the Gorilla Habituation Experience. “Spending time with these gentle creatures in their natural habitat was a profoundly moving experience.” 

What is the Gorilla Habituation Experience?

Wild Mountain Gorillas are distrustful of humans. When you approach gorillas, they will move away, and you will not see them. If they feel threatened, they will respond by charging at you or even attack at rare times.
Suppose a mountain gorilla family is to become part of the tracked groups by tourists. In that case, they first go through a process called “habituation.” The habituation of a mountain Gorilla family takes two years or even longer.

The Gorilla Habituation process is conducted by Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers and Researchers. The gorilla family’s health is monitored by the Gorilla Doctors, veterinarians that make forest calls.
Once the habituation process begins, the great apes are seen, observed, and monitored daily regardless of the weather. Those habituating the gorilla family make the final determination when the group is ready for regular gorilla tracking.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience is where a limited number of trekkers 4 not 8 like on a regular trek) join the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers and Researchers in the habituation process. That is where the experience begins.
Only one Family that is being habituated are trekkers allowed to participate. By the time visitors can participate in the gorilla habituation, the group has been in the process for some time. Meaning that they are not as skittish about humans in their presence as in the beginning making it a more meaningful encounter.

Is the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda for you?

7-Reasons why a Gorilla Habituation Experience is Best for Primate Enthusiasts

1. Spend More Time with the Gorillas:

Often, we have heard one of our clients say after a regular gorilla trek. “It was too short – I wanted more than one hour with the Gorillas.” The Uganda Wildlife Authority does offer more time on a limited basis with its exclusive Gorilla Habituation Experience.

You will spend more time with the gentle giants of the forest. The length of time may differ depending on the location of the gorilla family on that day.

 The maximum time is four-hours with a family. Your trek begins at seven AM, and You return in the late afternoon. It is an all-day trek, and it takes place in rain or shine.

Many want more time with the Gentle Giants. The up to 4-Hours with a Gorilla Family seems to be precisely suitable for most trekkers. One of our clients wrote to us this “The Gorilla Habituation Experience was the Icing on the Cake of our time on Safari in Uganda.” 

2. There are only four Participants instead of eight:

One of the Gorilla Habituation Experience’s significant advantages is that there are only four trekkers instead of the usual eight as on a regular trek. Another reason that trekkers are choosing the habituation experience over the traditional trek

You are with the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers, who manage the Gorilla family’s habituation that you are visiting.

3. You are a Participant in the Gorilla Habituation Process

Gorillas are not used to having humans around them. They will feel threatened and often run away or act hostile toward the intruders. The Gorilla Family you are visiting is undergoing the habituation process, preparing them for gorilla trekking visitation. They are becoming used to the presence of humans. You are a participant in that process.

4. You have the best Photo Opportunities:

The Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda is one of the foremost primate photography encounters in the world. You have more time and many opportunities for that perfect shot.

There is the now ten-meter distance rule, but that has not kept photographers from taking some award-winning photographs on the habituation experience. Light Conditions in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is something that you need to take into consideration. No-Flash photos are allowed.

Your time with the gorillas is precious, so you should plan your shots rather than shooting wildly. We recommend that you find a balance between taking in this incredible experience and taking photographs of the gentle giants of the forest.

We suggest that you not just spend time looking through your camera lens but focus on the experience as well as taking your photographs.

5. It is a learning Experience:

The Gorilla Habituation is a learning experience. You have more time with the gorillas, and through observation and from input from the Rangers about the daily routine of the gorillas, you get new insights into one of our closest cousins’ lives.

6. You can have a personal Experience without other participants:

We can arrange a private Gorilla Habituation Experience for you without any additional participants but your party along with rangers. Please note that such an arrangement depends 

7. You can add on other activities and Parks: Uganda is more than Gorillas. You can add-on parks and places in the Pearl of Africa that will enhance your time on a Safari here.

Most Visitors to Uganda do not realize that the Pearl of Africa is home to the Big 7 – the Big 5 plus Rhinos. There are many things to see here, things and places that are off the beaten Tourist Map – Things that you will be able to do and see in neighboring Tanzania or Kenya.

We know Uganda and Rwanda. We live here and promote both countries because we are passionate about them and the hidden places that they offer for you to see.

Relax and Chill Out after the Habituation Experience – Uganda is more than Mountain Gorillas – sadly, that is a reality not realized by most travelers.

How hard is it to get Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits?

Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits are 1,500 USD each. To get them, you must go through an AUTO Tour Operator, such as ourselves. That partner with the UWA in the promotion and Sales of Gorilla Permits.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience is no longer a Pilot Program, no longer in a Test Phase, but is part of Uganda Wildlife Authority’s many new activities since 2017 and is listed in the Tariffs issued by UWA.

Once you tell us that you would like to go on a Gorilla Habituation Experience and give us dates, we will check for Permits and lodging availability. Habituation Experience Permits are best paid for immediately upon booking a Safari with us.

It is to secure a space on the date or dates that you request.

Please Note: There are only four habituation experience permits per day compared to 152 regular trekking permits. It means that you with us must plan.

Which months are the Best for getting Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits?

Which are the Best Months of the Year when Gorilla Habituation Experience Permits are Available? As you plan a Safari in Uganda, it is good to know about the permit availability. There are the peak-season months where the permits are sold out far in advance of the actual dates.

The Best Months of the Year when Gorilla Habituation Permits are Available are during the shoulder-seasons, the time between the dry season, and the year’s rainy season.

The Best Months for Gorilla Trekking Permits are April, May, October, and November during the off-season. Most luxury lodges will have discount rates. 

It does rain, mostly at night and during the early morning around dawn during the rainy season (We do not have all-day monsoons). 

The trails are muddier and harder to do. The experience itself is the same. The good news is that the sun still comes out on most days.

The reality that Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tropical Afro-Montane Rainforest, and it can rain on any day. Primate Trekking takes place in Rain or Shine – no one complains about the rain, and most wear a rain jacket or poncho. If you come from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. or British Columbia, you will feel right at home.

Where does the Gorilla Habituation Experience take place?

The answer presently is only in the Rushaga area, which is in the southern region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Habituation Experience cannot be done in Buhoma, Ruhija, or Nkuringo Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest nor in Mgahinga Gorilla Park, but only in the Rushaga area.  The Gorilla Habituation Experience has its own trailhead in the Rushaga apart from the usual Trekking Trailhead.

Getting to Rushaga from Entebbe by Road is a nine to ten-hour drive. Via Aerolink is a ninety-minute flight that is quite scenic but adds extra dollars to your safari Cost.

The Shortest route by road is from Kigali, Rwanda.  Fly into Rwanda and Trek Gorillas in Uganda.  Kigali is a regional airport, and we have been using it for over five years. It has proven to be the most convenient route to Rushaga for the majority of our clients.

The quickest way is on a Fly-In Safari from Entebbe International Airport. Land at the Kisoro landing strip, and Our driver Guide meets you. It is a 45-Minute drive to Rushaga.

Many incorporate the Habituation Experience into their five, seven, eight, ten, or twelve-day Safari in Uganda with short drive-times between parks. We will create the safari that is suited for you.

Where do I stay on a Gorilla Habituation Safari?

Making the suitable Lodging Choices for Gorilla Trekking-Habituation Experience, Southern Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  Staying at the right Lodge while on the exclusive Habituation Experience or a Gorilla Trek is often overlooked by independent travelers.

We take the confusion out of picking the right or wrong Lodge for you near the Habituation Trailhead. which is different from the Nkuringo and Rushaga area’s usual Trekking Trailhead.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience requires a bit of drive time from the Lodge where you might be staying.  The Habituation Experience is at 7:30 am, a half-hour earlier than it is for the typical trek.

The Southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable offers many midrange lodging choices. There is the exclusive Clouds Mountain Lodge. Upmarket lodges, on the other hand, are limited in number.  South Bwindi still lacks the upmarket lodges that one finds in the more developed Buhoma area.  Two lodges are trying to meet the need.

One is a mix of midrange and upmarket room choices, which we most often use for our upscale clients.  In our opinion, a lodge such as Bwindi Lodge, Mount Gahinga Lodge, would be the perfect addition to the present mix of lodges now found in Rushaga and Nkuringo.

Covid-19 Gorilla Habituation Experience Protocol-Standard Operating Procedures:

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed even the Gorilla Habituation Experience is conducted.

Gorillas are some of our closest relatives, with a DNA similarity of 98.4%. That is remarkably close to Human Beings, and humans can transmit diseases such as COVID-19 beings to the forest’s gentle giants.

A COVID-19 outbreak among the Mountain Gorillas would be disastrous and result in many of them dying. The COVID-19 protocols will prevent such an attack.

Washing your hands, sanitizing, wearing Face Masks, and the now 10-meter  distance rule have lessened the chances that gorillas might catch the COVID-19 Virus.

Protective Face Masks are now a must. You will need two of them for a trek. If you are on a safari with us, you will be supplied with masks by us. For further reading on the protocols – click here.

Is the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda Safe?

Is the Gorilla Habituation Experience Safe? That is an often asked question. Uganda has Gorillas but not Guerrillas. Guerillas, you can find them in other countries while trekking the gentle giants but not in Uganda.

Uganda is a safe, secure, and stable Mountain Gorilla Destination. It is the only Mountain Gorilla Destination that has had no guerrilla activities in over 20 years.

Your safety, security, well-being is on everyone’s mind, including ours. The Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers that are with you are armed. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is patrolled 24/7 for suspicious activities such as poaching. 

There have no safety and security incidents in Bwindi Forest. No tourists have been harmed in over 20 years. Going on a Habituation Experience is safer than attempting to cross the road in Kampala. You will feel safe and secure the whole time on your trek. You are our Passion.

Gorilla Habituation Safaris in Uganda:

It is only in Uganda where you can go on a Mountain Gorilla Habituation Experience Safari. One gorilla group is being habituated in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Only four permits are available.

You can easily access Rushaga from points in Uganda and take a short drive 4-hour from Kigali

Gorilla Habituation Experience can be part of any Safari that includes Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

We can adjust the safari to include the Habituation Experience – depending on permit availability, which is quite limited compared to regular Trekking.

You have to be flexible with your dates if you want to include the Gorilla Habituation Experience in your Safari.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience – Our Take:

We are a Gorilla Tour Operator and act as a facilitator for the Gorilla Habituation Experience. Call us a matchmaker. We set and arrange the date and the meeting. However, we do not control what takes place in your prearranged meeting. Not even the rangers and trackers do that. You are not in a controlled situation. You are in the wild, where sometimes things are unpredictable, and it is all up to the Mountain Gorillas.

You visit a gorilla family in their living room in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and what takes place is up to the gorillas. Our clients have called this Experience, beyond expectations, unbelievable, better than expected.

2021 requires your flexibility to plan this activity since there are only four permits per day than over 150 regular gorilla tracking permits. Often, we have to inform potential clients – no more habituation permits.

To Plan ahead is the best advice that we can give.

We suggest that you also look at the following related pages about the Gorilla Habituation Experience:

What to wear on the Trek

How to Stay Healthy on Safari

Am I fit enough for a Gorilla Habituation Experience?

Is a Gorilla Habituation Safari worth it?

The Uganda Wildlife Ranger-Your Guide on the Trek

What else can I do and see in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest?

For Post-COVID-19 Travel, including the Gorilla Habituation Experience, you need Travel Insurance


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