What is the best time to book a gorilla habituation experience safari?
The best time to book a gorilla habituation experience safari is an important issue when it comes to planning a gorilla trek that will allow you to spend more time with mountain gorillas.
Gorilla habituation is an all-year-round activity, but most tourists prefer to reserve this safari experience in the drier months: June to September and December to February. This period typically has less rain falling, so there are less humid conditions in the forest too. The ground is not so soggy; even rivers flow on their usual banks.
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Gorilla habituation during an African safari is an adventure where tourists can follow semi-habituated mountain gorillas in the wilderness to get familiar with human presence. In Uganda, gorilla habituation is typically done in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The gorilla habituation safaris in Uganda were launched in 2014 by the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a mock adventure for gorilla families under habituation so that they get familiar with other faces other than the usual researchers and habituators.
Currently, only two gorilla families are open for tourist viewing, but a maximum of 4 tourists are allowed to be part of this experience.
Unlike gorilla trekking, where tourists are allowed only 1 hour of gorilla viewership, gorilla habituation adventure allows 4 hours in the presence of the mountain gorillas. During the gorilla habituation adventure, expect the mountain gorillas to go into hiding sometimes as they still bare their wild behaviors. The presence of humans still scares them.
What Are Requirements for gorilla Trekking safari
A gorilla habituation Permit
In Uganda, you need gorilla habituation permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Only a maximum of four gorilla habitation permits are released for the public to book. The cost of a gorilla habituation permit in Uganda is $1500 per person per trek for foreign none residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and shillings 750000 for East Africans.
How To Check For Availability of Gorilla habituation Permits
You must know the date when you wish to do gorilla habituation and the number of people you hope to enjoy with. When you send us an inquiry, our safari consultants check the availability status from the Uganda Wildlife Authority gorilla habituation permit list.
In case gorilla habituation is positive, we advise our clients to purchase their gorilla permits in advance to avoid last-minute panic in obtaining the gorilla permits.
We would later request personal details like the full name on your passport, Nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date, and others.
Accommodation For Gorilla habituation
In Uganda, you must reserve accommodation in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Since gorilla habituation starts very early in the morning, you must overnight in the same locality to avoid driving at night, where you may not know the way. There are very many hurdles you are likely to face. To avoid such challenges, you must book accommodation in the southern part of Bwindi.
Some of the accommodations in the southern sectors of Bwindi Include Clouds lodge, Gorilla safari lodge, and others.
Hiring a vehicle in case you are to use road transport to the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park is very necessary, but make sure it is a 4×4 wheeler. The roads in this area are in poor condition, bumpy, dusty or slippery at times, coupled with the regular rains that fall.
If you are doing a fly-in gorilla habituation adventure, reserve a seat on the daily domestic flights. This is because they also sell out fast, especially in the peak season. The locals also book these flights too for those going up country. You can either book the flights to Kihihi Airstrip or Kisoro airstrip from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip
You can also charter there but ensure that you make all the necessary bookings in advance.
A transfer vehicle is necessary because Kihihi Airstrip or Kisoro Airstrip is not with in the Park. You need to drive for some time between 2 hours to 4 hours which may not be a short distance.
Driver Guide fees
Going on an African safari with a knowledgeable and professional guide is fantastic. It adds more confidence to you even when discussing what you experienced with the mountain gorillas. On the other hand, a boring driver guide makes the trip boring too. It makes you feel unconfident about what to say about your meeting with the mountain gorillas.
These are highly competed for during the peak season since the professional and experienced ones familiar with the way are limited. In addition, they are booked for other activities like chimpanzee trekking, game drives, birding, and so much more that make up the Uganda safaris.
How Much Is Gorilla Habituation Safari In Uganda
A gorilla habituation permit in Uganda costs $1500 per person per trek, but this doesn’t discriminate whether luxury, mid-range, or budget. Other factors that determine the cost of gorilla habituation include:
The number of days on safari:
The more days you choose to do gorilla habituation, the higher the gross safari cost. You may do more than one gorilla habitation time if you reserve your gorilla permit for each time.
The paying people you travel with for gorilla habituation safari, whereby the more people you travel with for gorilla habituation, the fewer the people, the less the safari cost per person. You need to note that a maximum of 4 gorilla habituation permits are available to the public daily. You get to share other expenses like vehicle hire, driver guide fees, gas, etc. Solo tourists on gorilla trekking adventures bear the entire cost.
The timing for booking your gorilla habituation safari
The peak season for gorilla habituation typically has high prices on other services. In contrast, the low seasons for gorilla habituation may attract discounted service prices.
Additional activities combined with gorilla habituation where by the more activities combined with gorilla habituation, the higher the safari cost. You can do activities like game drives, chimpanzee trekking, white water rafting, launch trips, mountaineering, and others.
How Many People Are Allowed To Do Gorilla Habituation?
A maximum of 4 people are allowed to do gorilla habituation for conservation reasons. They are accompanied by researchers and habituators who take you through the entire process of following the mountain gorillas in the wilderness.
Although mountain gorillas live in the wilderness, they have their own behavior, and getting used to the presence of intruders takes time. It may take about 3 hours to more time, depending on how much it takes for the wild mountain gorillas to adapt.
The wilderness is the sole provider for the mountain gorillas as they need to feed through day and night to support their huge bodies.
What Is The Time Of Locating The mountain Gorillas During Gorilla Habituation?
Mountain gorillas are not static creatures but keep meandering through the forest, so locating them takes some time. Therefore, some level of patience is needed for you to accomplish your gorilla habituation experience.
You may have the opportunity to find them de-nesting. Still, when you locate their nests for the night, you get the satisfaction that you are about to see where the gorillas may be feeding from.
Even when you locate a fresh feeding area or fresh dung, it is one sign that you are getting closer to where the mountain gorillas may be lounging or spending their day. They do not usually move so far because of their bulky bodies.
When you locate mountain gorillas, they advise you to keep a distance of about 8 meters from them to reduce the chances of passing an infection.
Only four hours are allowed in the presence of the semi-habituated mountain gorillas. Expect them to display some wild behaviors because they are not fully habituated. They, at times go into hiding when you locate them but follow the instructions given by the researcher.
Is Gorilla Habituation Difficult?
The area where the mountain gorillas live is ragged, so expect to do some hiking at some point. During the dry seasons, the mountain gorillas may go and feed from the slopes in case the lower part of the highlands are logged.
In this case, you must follow them there and watch them do their daily activities. Ensure that you follow the rules of gorilla habituation as given by the researchers.
Were the right gorilla habituation gears like safari boots, safari clothes, and insect repellents to prevent yourself from being hurt in the wilderness.
Having some fitness level helps you stretch out your muscles so that you do not get hurt while moving in the wilderness.
How safe Is gorilla habituation experience?
The safety of the location where gorilla habituation takes place is based on the vigilance of the ranger guides and cooperation with other security agents in the country. This is a nature conservation area, and the safety of wildlife and human beings is the mandate of Uganda’s security agencies.
You also have to be vigilant to avoid getting yourself in trouble while on a gorilla habituation adventure.
Ensure you refrain from carrying your valuables in the forest while doing gorilla habituation because you may lose them in the forest on the way.
Refrain from publicly counting large sums of money because you may attract the wrong people.
Eating street food may not be great for you, so if you wish to taste some local cuisines, ask the driver guide to take you to a well-established place. This is to avoid food poisoning.
Only enter the forest with an escorting ranger guide because the forest has other dwellers who may harm you.
Follow the instructions the ranger guide and researcher gave during the gorilla habituation briefing so that you do not fall out with the mountain gorillas in the wilderness. They are susceptible primates that are keen with intruders in their environment.
Carry some first aid kit in case you need emergency help while in the wilderness.
Pack relevantly but light for your gorilla trekking safari to avoid inconveniencing others with your bags or look for where to leave them as you go for gorilla habituation.
Do not engage in unlawful activities while on gorilla habituation safari, like dealing in drugs, because you may get imprisoned by authorities. This is forbidden in Uganda.
What rules and regulations of a Gorilla Habituation Safari
- If you catch a communicable infection, you cannot do gorilla habituation experience. No one is allowed to visit the mountain gorillas because they are highly susceptible to these infections like flu, cholera, Corona Virus, Ebola, and others.
- Putting on a mask when you go gorilla trekking is a must for all trekkers, and sanitizing your footwear as a preventative measure decided on by Uganda Wildlife Authority to prevent spreading infections.
- Keep tight with the group you are doing gorilla habituation with. Avoid surrounding the mountain gorillas when you locate them. Try not to make them feel agitated by people around them, which may push them into hiding.
- Not raising your voice or Keeping a low voice is advised so as not to scare the mountain gorillas that are very conscience of intruders in their environment or other forest dwellers that are interesting to meet while gorilla habituating.
- Never use flash photography while with the mountain gorillas because they get scared of new occurrences in your presence.
- Littering in the forest is forbidden because it alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas thrive.
- If you wish to smoke or eat, do it at least 200 meters from the mountain gorillas because they may be forced to grab and eat it. The mountain gorillas are wild animals that must find their food.
- The age limit for gorilla habituation is 15 years. This is because the time for locating the mountain gorillas is unknown. These children may not hike the slopes where the mountain gorillas may be lounging.
- Try to avoid Spitting on vegetation which is food for the mountain gorillas. This is forbidden because this may contaminate the foliage on which mountain gorillas thrive. For regular habituators, this is disgusting too and unhygienic.
- They limit the time you stay with mountain gorillas to just four hours. Therefore, use it well to keep memories of your experience with the mountain gorillas.
- Provoking the mountain gorillas is forbidden because they may get agitated and go into hiding. They may be serene creatures, but they have feelings and mood swings.
- When you locate the mountain gorillas, leave a space of about 8 meters away to reduce any chances of passing an infection to them.
- For fecal materials, do it in a whole of about 30 centimeters deep. Ask the ranger guide to dig it and cover it well afterward beyond recognition. The mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers may wish to exhume this waste but cover it to prevent this.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, do it away from the mountain gorillas or in your elbow so as not to spread infections to the mountain gorillas.