Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Habituation Experience in Bwindi Forest

Posted by on June 18, 2019

Which one is right for me – Gorilla Habituation Experience or Gorilla Trekking

You Decide – Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Habituation Experience

Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Habituation Experience.  What is The Difference between Gorilla Trekking where 8 participants spend one hour with the Gentle Giants of the Forest and the Gorilla Habituation Experience which is beyond picture taking, beyond viewing but you become part of the process of Gorilla Habituation?

Choosing Gorilla Habituation Experience or Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda?

We cannot convince you of one being better than the other, but we can remove the confusion that exists between the two – the difference is much more than being 900 USD more expensive, based on our experience and feedback from Gorilla Habituation Experience it would not matter if the permit price were higher – the Gorilla Habituation Experience is a one of a kind activity – there simply is not a comparison to be made, but since we are often asked – Here is our Take:


Please Note – The significant difference between Gorilla Trekking and the Habituation Experience that we have noticed is on the one hour visit to Gorilla Family you are an observer, a taker of photographs, on the other hand, you are an active participant in the Gorilla Habituation.  It is more of what Dian Fossey experienced, and it is probably somewhat unfair comparing the two very different encounters with the Gentle Giants.

Which one is right for me – Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Habituation Experience

Reasons why Trekkers choose the Gorilla Habituation Experience over Normal Gorilla Trekking

 1. The Gorilla Habituation Experience is – More Time with A Gorilla Family on All-Day Trek than the one Hour during a Gorilla Trek:

A standard Trek is 1-Hour with a Gorilla Family – The  Habituation Experience means 4-hours with a Gorilla Family.  A regular Gorilla Trek is 3-5 hours – 1-hour with a Gorilla Family.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience means you are 4-hours with a family plus the Trek in and trek out. This amounts 7-8 hours.

For some, this may be more than they can handle, that is a lot of time on your feet, those that do it have no complaint. (We had one complaint about the length of the day in 5 years).

If you are an amateur Primatologist the 4 hours is for you. This is the closest that you will ever get to a Dian Fossey Gorillas in the Mist Experience for a day.

More Time with the Gentle Giants of the Forest – those that do the Gorilla Habituation, the more time is worth the extra money, effort, adjustment of travel Schedule.

 2. The Gorilla Habituation Experience means Fewer Participants than the typical Trek:

That is a big issue for many.  8 Trekkers, Rangers, porters, Security is a lot of People heading into the Forest.  4-Trekkers is half the number of participants, and there is no rule against you buying all four permits for the Habituation Experience and have a private time with Rangers, Researchers and the Gorillas.

The African traveler is learning toward exclusive, authentic Experiences and the Gorilla Habituation Experience is most often just right for them.

Four participants mean that fewer people are trying to get the best view, the best camera angle, you have more options than you would have with 8 participants.  There were some voices a few years ago that wanted to increase the number of trekkers to 12, thank goodness level conservation minded heads prevailed.

Fewer Participants – half of the participants that you have on a regular Gorilla Trek.

 3. You are an active Participant in the Habituation Process and not just an Observer as during a Gorilla Trek.

This is one of the most important differences between the Habituation and the regular Trek.  The Gorilla Habituation Experience is all about getting Gorillas used to Human.  The gorilla family that you are allowed to visit on the Habituation is well into the process. Your presence only helps them along.

Your presence makes you a participant in the habituation process where the Gentle Giants become used to the presence of humans.  This is a process that takes from 2 to 3 years.

You do not habituate Gorillas overnight. It takes time.  The Gorilla Families in the process of being habituated that can be visited have been habituated for a length of time. This is done so that you have a positive trekking experience.

 4. You learn more about Gorillas during the Gorilla Habituation Experience than on a regular Trek.

Gorilla Trekking is Gorillas-101, the Gorilla Habituation is beyond the Basics, it is Gorillas 202.  You are in the living room of a Gorilla Family. You are with them in the living room in the forest.  You are part of the family as they go about their daily business of being Gorillas.

You are with researchers, trackers, hear their comments about the behavior of the Gorillas on the day that you are there.  At times our clients have been to a Gorilla Doctor Forest Call, a gorilla family checkup which was an incredible experience.  Definitely beyond Basic 101 Gorilla Trekking.

That the Habituation i beyond the Basics of Gorilla Trekking makes the Gorilla Habituation worth it, worth the extra time, extra Effort and yes the extra money.

If you want to be in the presence of Mountain Gorillas and learn about them, that the Habituation, beyond the Basics, is for you

 5. The Gorilla Habituation costs 900 USD more than Gorilla Trekking:

The Gorilla Habituation Permit costs you 1,500 USD, 900 USD more than the regular Trek.  It raises the cost of your Primate Safari by 900 USD, but values-wise you get a lot more in return.  4- Hours with a Gorilla Family, fewer participants, a more significant learning experience is what you get,

Most Trekkers are satisfied with a usual trek.  There are a few that want more. They want more time, an even more memorable experience.  They like the idea of fewer participants.

The fewer permits block many from going on the habituation, the higher cost for permits blocks others.  The reality is that we could sell twice the number of Safaris if permits were available.

If you ask one who just completed the gorilla habituation Experience, no one would tell you that they regret going on it.

 6. There is a minimal Number of Permits for Gorilla Habituation Permits compared to 152 Gorilla Trekking Permits:

The Gorilla Habituation Experience was never intended for Mass Primate Tourism.  It is a niche activity, not meant for everyone but for those that want to find out more about Gorillas, are interested in their presence for a longer time and want a more exclusive activity that is hands-on rather be an observer.

Presently there are only four permits per day for those that are interested in the activity.  Only use an Association of Uganda Tour Operators such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris since they have access to the most significant number of permits, can quickly check for permit availability and know what the Habituation is about.

Necessary:  Unfortunately, many Trekkers do not make Uganda their sole Safari Destination but use Uganda as a Gorilla Add-ON.  They often attempt to book Gorillas after booking time in Tanzania, Kenya, even South Africa and Namibia or Botswana.  That is the number 1-Mistake committed and often resulted in no permits.  The Number 1 – Gorilla Trekking Rule is this.  Book Gorillas first – they are permitted sensitive, have a fixed, unchangeable Date (rare times can be changed for a fee to UWA.) You game drive in Kenya or Tanzania can be taken almost any time, not so your gorilla trek or gorilla habituation.

 7.  Gorilla Habituation is only in one location in Bwindi unlike Gorilla Trekking which takes place in 4 separate Bwindi Locations plus Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

The Gorilla Habituation Experience takes place only in the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest because Trekking is done in the Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga Areas of the park.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda is from one site in Uganda. It is from 5 locations – 4 locations inside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest plus Mgahinga Gorilla Park.  Rushaga and Nkuringo can be accessed from Kigali, Rwanda in a mere 4 hours, while it takes longer to travel to the Buhoma or Ruhija Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The drive to southern Bwindi Impenetrable Forest from Entebbe is 9-Hours.  One reason that over 80% of our clients choose to fly into Kigali, Rwanda, and Trek in Uganda.  Fly-In Gorilla Safaris can be done from Entebbe to southern Bwindi using Kisoro Airstrip.

Hopefully, you can make a choice based on our input  – contact us, and we will get things going.

 TripAdvisor Reviews and other misleading and incorrect bunk about the Gorilla Habituation Experience

If you go to TripAdvisor and read the reviews, you will be more confused than before you read them.  Non-habituation Experience Participants mostly write Reviews.  Those who have done Gorilla Trekking and not the Habituation, comments from some Tour Operators that do not know the Gorilla Habituation and simply wannabee Armchair Experts that like to see their name in print.

The reality is this, few have gone on a Gorilla Habituation Experience compared to the many that have done a Gorilla Trek.  The two Gorilla Families being habituated have been in the process for well over two years and have become used to humans.  Lastly, a Gorilla Habituation like a Gorilla trek is no walk in the zoo, nothing is predictable, it is an adventure, and each is different.

This is the same kind myth being perpetrated on the Internet such as Gorilla Trekking is better in Rwanda.  Why did Lonely Planet feature Uganda as a Cool List Destination – Gorilla Trekking price and the fact that most are choosing to trek in Uganda?

Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Habituation Experience – Our Take:

The Gorilla Habituation Experience since its inception has been a favorite activity with our Clients, over 50% of those wanting to see the Mountain Gorillas in the wild are choosing the Gorilla Habituation Experience over normal Gorilla Trekking.

The Main Reason for their choice is the time spent with a Gorilla Family – the 4 hours versus the 1-hour trekking. There is also the smaller number of visitors (4) allowed on a Gorilla Habituation Experience versus Trekking, and lastly, they like being with those involved in the Habituation Process, the insights, and knowledge that they receive from them.

The cost of the Habituation Experience is a reason, but those choosing the 4-hour Experience go with the one of a kind of activity that they can be part of, where there are only 4 participants, and it is a learning experience.

There are already myths about the Habituation Experience.  The two gorilla families are used to Humans, have been habituated for over two years, you are as close to them as you are during a Gorilla Trek, Gorillas, however, may get more intimate than the rules call for, they don’t have the Internet. Your experience may be different since we are in the wild where things are not always predictable, and ultimately, the Gorillas are in control and not humans.

Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Gorilla Habituation Experience – No matter whether you choose Gorilla Trekking or the Gorilla Habituation Experience, your money goes further, gives you more value in Uganda.

The choice is yours to make – whether you want a regular gorilla Trek or the Gorilla Habituation Experience we love to assist you with one of the most memorable encounters on the planet – that time with the Mountain Gorillas.

Gorilla Trekking or the Gorilla Habituation Experience?  The choice is yours to make if you have any questions.  Please ask us, and we will gladly reply to you.