Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda
Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda: Gorilla habituation is a process where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to human presence so as to be opened for trekking. Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is carried out in Rushaga sector Bwindi impenetrable national park. The habituation experience was introduced in Bwindi impenetrable national park by Uganda Wildlife Authority in January 2014 and the process is carried out by a team of researchers, conservationists, rangers, gorilla doctors among others and takes a period of 2 to 3 years to be complete.
Where to go for gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation experience is an interesting and incredible activity that is only carried out in Rushaga sector southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in south western Uganda in Kanungu district and it’s the best destination for gorilla trekking because it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas in Africa.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is divided into four sectors which harbor the habituated gorilla families including Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Rushaga sector which harbors the highest number of habituated gorilla families and the only destination where gorilla habituation is carried out.
Gorilla habituation experience is done in Rushaga and there is one gorilla family called Kutu that is under the habituation process. The habituation experience allows a maximum of 4 people and its starts in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters about the rules and regulations. After the briefing you will start trekking in the forest following trails where the mountain gorillas slept the previous night.
When the mountain gorillas are found, you will be allowed to spend four hours with them in their natural habitat and during the four hours, you will participate in gorilla naming, monitoring their behaviors, making calls, taking photos with flash less cameras and recording the moments. When the researchers are certain that the wild gorillas are used to human presence, a mock exercise will be introduced to test the mountain gorillas are ready for trekking. The mock exercise involves scientists, journalists among others and when the gorillas pass the exercise, they will be open for gorilla trekking.
Cost of a gorilla habituation permit in Uganda
Visitors interested in gorilla habituation experience are required to have a valid gorilla habituation permit which is issued by UWA to any visitor above the age of fifteen allowing him or her to participate in the habituation experience.
A gorilla habituation permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park costs $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, $1000 per person for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 per person for East African citizens. A gorilla habituation permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park is valid for one day and allows you to spend four hours with the mountain gorillas under habituation.
How to book a gorilla habituation permit
A gorilla habituation permit is easy to book as long as you follow the right procedure which is either booking directly through UWA a government body in charge of tourism and when booking directly you will contact the head offices in Kampala via email or telephone calls.
Another option of booking a gorilla habituation permit is through a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through a tour operator, you will contact us with the date, month and year when you want to engage in the habituation experience. We will check for availability of the permit and if the permits are available, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit. Once the deposit has been made, you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport which will be used to register for your permit and we will acquire the permit for you and send a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation.
Booking through a tour operator is the best option to use in that we will not only acquire a gorilla habituation permit for you but also organize your entire gorilla habituation safari which involves transportation to Bwindi impenetrable national park, meals, accommodation in Rushaga sector among others.
A gorilla habituat ion permit should however be acquired 5 to 7 months in advance before the trekking date because there are only four permits available everyday which makes them competitive and also get sold out quickly especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February.
Where to stay during your gorilla habituation experience
There are a number of up-market, midrange and budget accommodations in Rushaga sector where you will stay on your gorilla habituation safari including Gorilla Safari Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Clouds Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Wagtail Eco Safari Camp, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort among others. Accommodations offer services and amenities like comfortable room, en-suite bathrooms, restaurant, bar, fireplace, free Wi-Fi in public areas, gardens for relaxation and offer some activities like community tour, nature walk, birding among others.
When to go for gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation experience can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and during this period there is less rainfall in the national park therefore access roads to Rushaga sector and gorilla trails will be dry and passable hence making the activity successful compared to the rainy season when there is heavy rainfall that makes the trails in the jungle muddy and slippery.
How to get to the gorilla habituation destination
Rushaga sector is situated in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park which is located in southwestern Uganda and can be accessed by road and air transport means.
Road transport, when using road transport, you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale and then connect to Rushaga sector which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive.
You can also use public means of transport though not recommended because you might be over charged. When using public means you will board a bus from Kampala Bus Park to Kabale and then hire a private taxi to Rushaga sector.
Air transport, when using air transport, you can book a flight with Aerolink a domestic airline company in Uganda that operates scheduled and chartered flights daily from Entebbe airport or Kajansi airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. The flights take about one hour and it’s the best option to use for visitors who don’t like travelling long distance journeys.
Rushaga sector can also be accessed Kigali Rwanda and when using this route, you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to Rushaga sector by road through Cyanika border in Kisoro district.
Other activities to do in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park offers other incredible activities apart from gorilla habituation experience including gorilla trekking which gives visitors an opportunity to spend one hour with the habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat, nature walk where you will explore the park and enjoy scenic views of the primates, plant species, cool breeze, fresh air, Batwa experience where you will visit the Batwa/pygmies and get to learn about their lifestyle, culture and how they used to live in the forest before it was gazetted into a national park.
You can also participate in birding because the national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. During birding you will be able to view various bird species including handsome francolin, strange weaver, Ruwenzori batis, Chapin’s fly catcher, dusky twinspot, crowned hornbill, African emerald cuckoo, red headed bluebill, African harrier hawk, African green pigeon, giant kingfisher among others. You can engage in any of the activities after a gorilla habituation experience to make your safari in Uganda unforgettable.