Are there habituated mountain gorillas in Uganda?
Uganda has habituated mountain gorillas in both Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga National Park. Currently, Uganda has 19 gorilla trekking families fully habituated to human presence and 2 semi-habituated gorilla families open for habituation experience.
To create a gorilla trekking family, the habituation of a wild gorilla family has to take precedence. The time taken to do gorilla habituation is still being determined as this may take about 2 years or more depending on how the mountain gorillas adopt.
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To do gorilla habituation, only 4 hours are allowed in the presence of the mountain gorillas in case of gorilla habituation experience and one hour for gorilla trekking adventure.
We must understand gorilla habituation before knowing if Uganda has habituated mountain gorillas.
What Is Gorilla Habituation?
Gorilla habituation is the process where you follow a wild mountain gorilla family in the family to get them used to the presence of humans without altering their nature. The process of gorilla habituation
includes trackers and researchers that keep records of the gorilla family and the traits of each family member.
This information is given to tourists when they are allocated to a particular gorilla family during gorilla trekking. The gorilla habituation process in Uganda started in the 1990s with the Mubare Gorilla family and opened in 1993 for gorilla trekking. The rest is history.
Gorilla Habituation Experience?
Uganda hosts a gorilla habituation experience in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with so far two gorilla families set aside for this.
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where you escort a team of researchers and trackers to follow a semi-habituated gorilla family in the wild and stay with them for 4 hours. Maximum 4 tourists are allowed to do gorilla habituation per day.
You must purchase a gorilla habituation permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
How Much Is a Gorilla Habituation Permit Cost?
Each gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents, and 750,000shs for East African Residents.
Inclusions and exclusions Of Gorilla Permit Cost
The cost of a gorilla permit includes the following:
- Park entrance fees.
- Security during gorilla trekking.
- Research fee.
- 4 hours with the mountain gorillas.
- Ranger guide services.
- Mountain gorilla conservation.
- Local community support.
Exclusions of gorilla permit costs are; transport to gorilla habituation destination, tips, drinks, and any other items of personal nature.
Is Gorilla Permit Instalment Purchase Accepted in Uganda?
Fully paying for your gorilla permit is the best option. However, you can purchase this gorilla Permit in installments of 30% and 70%, respectively.
To qualify for a gorilla permit installment purchase, you have to purchase your gorilla permit 90 days before the gorilla habituation date. It would be best to top up your gorilla habituation permit 90 days after the gorilla trekking date, or a penalty will be given.
What is Gorilla Trekking?
Gorilla trekking is an adventure where you follow a fully habituated gorilla family in the wild and stay with them for just one permitted hour. You must purchase a gorilla permit to access the mountain gorillas for the trekking safari.
How much is a gorilla trekking permit for Uganda?
A gorilla trekking permit costs $800 per person for foreign nonresidents, $700 for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East African residents.
The cost of a gorilla trekking permit includes security during gorilla trekking, park entrance fees, mountain gorilla conservation support, local community support, ranger guide services, and one hour with the mountain gorillas.’
Exclusions of gorilla permit costs are tips, transport, accommodation, snacks, and any other items of personal nature.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we arrange gorilla safaris packages for our clients to make it easier for them to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. We reserve accommodations, vehicle hire, and other safari amenities that support a tourist’s stay on a gorilla safari.
Where to find habituated Mountain gorillas In Uganda?
Since gorilla safaris in Uganda happen in two gorilla parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, each has its habituated gorilla family, as stated below.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 18 gorilla families fully habituated and open for tourist viewing. For administrative purposes, this vast forest was subdivided into four gorilla trekking areas:
- The Buhoma area in the north
- The Ruhija area in the East
- The Rushaga area
- The Nkuringo area in the south
The gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable national park are reserved according to the area.
Each area has fully habituated gorilla families, including;
The Buhoma area in Northern Bwindi Forest has: The Mubare family, also referred to as Group M, the Rushegura family, also known as Group R, and the Habinyanja family, also called Group H. These are some of the first gorilla families that the Uganda Wildlife Authority habituated.
Ruhija area in Eastern Bwindi Forest so far has: Bitukura family, Oruzogo family, Kyaguriro family, Mukisa family
Rushaga area in southern Bwindi Forest: Busingye family, Bweza family, Mucunguzi family, Kahungye family, Nshongi family, Rwigi family, Mishaya family.
The Nkuringo area in the southern Bwindi forest includes the Nkuringo family, the Muhozi family, and the Christmas family.
Note the number of gorilla families is still expanding as gorilla habituation is being carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Two gorilla families in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are severed for gorilla habituation experience. Everyone participating needs to obtain a gorilla habituation permit before being allowed to enjoy this adventure.
Mgahinga National Park
So far, Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family habituated for human visits. This gorilla family used to wander into Rwanda, making pre-booking its gorilla permits hard. The Nyakagezi gorilla family is the only gorilla family habituated in Mgahinga National Park.
Ntebeko visitor center is where briefing to do gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park is done.
The park hosts other primates like golden monkeys, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, olive baboons, and others.
How Can I Book a Gorilla permit For Uganda?
Whether doing gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation, you can follow the below procedure to book a gorilla permit.
Identify the date when you hope to do gorilla trekking or habituation. It may be a confirmed or tentative date and the number of people you wish to do this African adventure with.
Note that the maximum number of people allowed to do gorilla trekking is 8 people per gorilla family and maximum 4 people per gorilla family for gorilla habituation experience.
If you enquire from Encounter Africa Safaris about the availability of gorilla permits per your dates of preference or directly check with Uganda Wildlife Authority, wait for the response.
Our safari consultant checks availability from the gorilla permit availability list of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Encounter Africa Safaris is one of the accredited safari companies approved by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to purchase gorilla permits.
Forward some passport details to be added to your gorilla permit card, like your full name as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date, and other details.
What is the age limit for gorilla safari in Uganda?
15 years is the age limit for gorilla safaris in Uganda. This is because of the nature of the topography of this area which is volcanic. Expect to hike some ridges and plateaus where mountain gorillas sometimes spend part of their day.
It may be hard for children below this age to hike the slopes of these highlands to get to the mountain gorillas in case they are lounging there.
Some patience is required when doing gorilla trekking or habituation because of the free movement of mountain gorillas that love wandering the forest; sometimes, the mountain gorillas move very fast, prolonging the gorilla trek. This may be hard to withstand for gorilla trekkers below age 15.
Glancing at the mountain gorillas may stimulate some adrenaline because of their size and dark-furred bodies. Any suspicious reaction you do before the mountain gorillas may agitate them, pushing them into hiding. Such a reaction is hard to control by children below 15 years and may accompany a loud outcry, which is the noise that may scare the mountain gorillas, pushing them into hiding.
What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Safari In Uganda?
The cost of Uganda gorilla safari starts with the gorilla permit costs whether doing gorilla trekking or habituation experience. The gorilla permit costs are similar whether taking the luxury, mid-range, or Budget packages.
Other factors to consider when calculating gorilla safari package include:
The number of people doing gorilla safari where more people on a gorilla safari, the lower the per-person cost. As a solo tourist, you incur all the costs of a gorilla safari.
The time for booking the gorilla safari, especially during peak season when service providers increase prices. At times discounts can be given to tourists during the low season, lowering the cost of the gorilla safari.
Number of days on gorilla safari: The more days on a gorilla safari, the higher the safari cost.
Additional activities to combine with gorilla trekking like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, launch trips, and others
When can I expect to Return From Gorilla Trekking or Habituation experience?
Returning from gorilla habituation or trekking is unpredictable as it depends on the time you take to locate the mountain gorillas. Some tourists have been lucky to find the mountain gorillas within two hours, while others spend more time in the wilderness.
During gorilla trekking, only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas upon locating them. When you do gorilla habituation, four hours are allowed in the company of the mountain gorillas.
The pace of the group you are gorilla trekking or doing gorilla habituation with determines when you hope to locate the mountain gorillas.
When a gorilla family has a fight, they may split, or some may die in battle. This creates a somber mood in the gorilla family, which may push them into the deeper ends of the park.
If the dominant silverback is adventurous, the rest of the gorilla family may be forced to follow his hobby and keep moving in the forest, so expect some delay in locating the mountain gorillas.
During the severe rainy season, which is usually March through May and November, the trails are slippery and soggy from the nonstop rains that fall, yet less sunlight can penetrate the ground.
What are the rules of gorilla safari in Uganda?
- Only an hour is allowed during gorilla trekking, and for gorilla habituation experience, four hours are allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them. They are habituated to be in the presence of humans for just that time so that they are left to go about there day to day activities.
- Eating or smoking before the mountain gorillas are forbidden. Please do this at least 300 meters away from them so that they are not enticed to pull what you are eating from you. They are wild animals that must search for their food.
- Only children 15 and above are allowed to do gorilla trekking because of the nature of the gorilla trekking environment. The time of locating the mountain gorillas is still being determined because of their movement.
- Spitting on the soil or vegetation may spread germs to mountain gorillas, which is forbidden. Mountain gorillas can easily catch human infectious diseases like covid-19, cough, flu, and cholera.
- If you have a communicable infection, volunteer to stay behind and protect the mountain gorillas from such infectious diseases. The extent to which this disease may spread and kill the mountain gorillas is unknown.
- Before mountain gorillas come into view, Wear a clean mask, as this is one of the preventive measures adopted to prevent the spreading covid-19 virus to the mountain gorillas and other germs.
- Keep a gap of at least 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them to prevent the spreading of any infection.
- Try to keep your voice low, as loud noise is forbidden in the forest because this may scare the mountain gorillas. They are susceptible to unfamiliar noise in their presence.
- No flash photography is prohibited when taking photos because mountain gorillas may go into hiding because of unfamiliar light.
- Dumping garbage in the forest during gorilla trekking is forbidden because this alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas live.