What is the age limit (minimum age) for gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi
The age limit for gorilla habituation in Uganda is 15 years and above. This is because gorilla habituation is an adventure in the wilderness where you walk for some time before getting to the mountain gorillas. In Uganda, gorilla habituation is limited to maximum 4 tourists who take 4 hours with the mountain gorillas. It is best to understand what gorilla habituation safari is first.
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What Is Gorilla Habituation Adventure?
Gorilla habituation safari is an adventure where you follow a semi-habituated gorilla family in the process of getting them familiar with human presence without altering their nature.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s southern sector is so far the gorilla habituation section in Uganda. Two gorilla families are currently open for habituation safari, and a maximum of four tourists are allowed to participate per day. The southern part of Bwindi’s impenetrable national park, composed of the Rushaga area and the Nkuringo area is the gorilla habituation destination.
You escort a group of habituators and trackers who follow the gorilla family, take notes and observe the mountain gorillas. They note down the traits of each gorilla and give individual names for easy identification of the mountain gorillas.
How Much Can I Pay For A Gorilla Habituation Permit?
The cost of a gorilla habituation permit is $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents, and 150000 shs for East African Residents.
The cost of a gorilla habituation permit includes a ranger guide fee, four hours with the mountain gorillas, security, a certificate after completing gorilla habituation, gorilla conservation support, local community support, and park entrance fees for that day.
Exclusions for gorilla habituation permit costs include transport to the destination, tipping, porter hire, drinks, energy bites, etc.
Can I Pay For A Gorilla Habituation Permit in Instalment?
Full payment for a gorilla permit is the best buy. You can also purchase it in installments of 30% and 70 % of the total cost. Only permits purchased 90 days before the gorilla habituation date are allowed to be bought in installments.
You need to top up this gorilla permit 90 days before the date of habituation, or a penalty added.
Is The Gorilla Habituation Permit Refundable?
If you cannot honor the date to which your gorilla habituation permit is booked but wish to get a refund, you need to fulfill all the requirements in the gorilla refund policy of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
When you are a no-show without reporting to the Uganda Wildlife Authority in advance, expect no refund because the validity of the gorilla habituation permit ends on the booked day.
How Can I Reschedule the Gorilla Habituation Permit?
You must write to Uganda Wildlife Authority requesting to push your gorilla habituation permit to a future date. State why you are not in a position to do gorilla habituation on the date booked. Attach evidence to back up your request.
When your request is approved, and your gorilla permit is rescheduled, you have one extra time to reschedule your permit. The executive director must approve the third time, and a surcharge of 25% of the total cost is added.
Why The A Limit For Gorilla Habituation Is 15 years and above?
The nature of the topography where mountain gorillas live, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is covered with volcanic landforms. Mountain gorillas live freely in the wilderness and sometimes spend part of their time on the slopes or valleys.
You may be required to trace them by hiking where the mountain gorillas are. This may be challenging for a child below 15 years. Some level of fitness is necessary during gorilla habituation, which a child below 15 years may not have.
The time of locating the mountain gorillas is unknown due to changing forest factors like proximity of their food, a fight amongst the mountain gorillas, severe rainy season, and so much more. Some patience is required during gorilla habituation, which may be hard to exhibit by a child below this age.
Noise-making is prohibited during gorilla habituation, which is hard to fulfil by a child below 15 years. The forest has some challenging moments that may call for one to scream, but you have to try not to cause a stampede in the forest. Mountain gorillas are scared of unfamiliar noise in their vicinity.
What Happens During Gorilla Habituation Adventure?
You wake up earlier to attend a briefing at the ranger station together with researchers and trackers. Do not forget packed lunch, as return time from gorilla habituation is unknown.
Remember to carry all the necessary gorilla trekking gear and hire a porter if you wish to be assisted.
A porter is a person who assists you in carrying your belongings throughout the gorilla habituation adventure at a small fee. This is one way to directly give back to the local community.
After the briefing, you are divided into groups of maximum 4 tourists to follow the researchers and trackers. You may be required to note some observations and offer assistance where necessary.
You start the gorilla search from the trail to where the mountain gorillas were last seen the previous day. They do not normally move far away from that area unless there is a push factor like a fight amongst them or with other gorilla families, food is exhausted, the death of a family member, and others.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, wait for instructions from the researchers before taking any photos or making any movement. They have to first observe the mood of the gorilla family.
Finally, do not use flash photography when allowed to take photos, as it may scare the mountain gorillas and push them deep into the forest.
Participate in noting some of the traits showcased by the mountain gorillas, as this is for record purposes. Sometimes you may be required to show elegancy to the reigning Dominant silverback by trying to chew the grass. Try not to resist; the gorillas may think you have bad intentions. They are the masters of the jungle.
Do not be surprised when the mountain gorillas sneak away during gorilla habituation. They are not yet used to human presence. If the mountain gorillas move closer, stealthily retreat to cause no alarm for them to be agitated by your presence.
After 4 hours of gorilla habituation, slowly return to your lodge to relax, wind and unwind from those moments in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
How Long Is Gorilla Habituation Safari?
The time of locating the mountain gorillas during habituation is unknown because they are mobile primates. The ranger guides and trackers follow the trail leading to where the gorilla family under habituation was seen the previous day. They normally do not start their day far from there.
Locating the mountain gorillas during the habituation adventure may take 2 hours to more.
Some extra patience is necessary during gorilla habituation because you are dealing with semi-habituated mountain gorillas. They may display some wild behaviors by going into hiding during your visit. The habituation and trackers by now understand how to deal with this mountain gorilla in case they hide.
The pace of all gorilla habituation participants is not the same, so the rangers follow the pace of the slowest habituation. If the participants are slow, the time to locate the mountain gorillas may be prolonged.
Pay attention to the instructions given by the researcher and habituation so as not to miss-fire.
Is Gorilla Habituation Difficult?
Going for gorilla habituation in the jungle requires some level of fitness but at times, the mountain gorillas lounge on steep, slippery slopes, which require you to do some tough hiking.
Wearing the right gorilla trekking gear like safari boots and necessary safari attire and applying insect repellants and other gear give you extra protection.
Because the jungle has overgrown creepers that have survived several years, at times, the ranger guide has to chop them with a machete to create a way to get to the mountain gorillas.
How Safe Is Gorilla Habituation In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Bwindi’s impenetrable national park is safe for gorilla habituation. Rangers often patrol the forest and are always on call to save the forest dwellers and their habitat from intruders like snares setters.
Uganda wildlife authority management of Bwindi Impenetrable national park cooperates with other Uganda security agencies to keep law and order in this park and its surroundings.
You must also be vigilant with personal security by keeping closer to the group you habituate mountain gorillas with. This is to prevent getting lost in the wilderness.
Never enter the forest without an escorting ranger guide because the forest has other dwellers not habituated to human presence. Some include forest elephants, giant forest hogs, and others.
How Much Is Gorilla Habituation Safari?
The gorilla habituation permit is the common expenditure for all safari packages categorized according to luxury, mid-range, and budget.
To create a gorilla habituation safari package, the factors below are considered.
The number of people participating in gorilla habituation as the more people joining in for gorilla habituation, the less the per person cost solo gorilla habituators take on all the safari expenditures.
Additional activities combined with gorilla habituation like game drives, chimpanzee trekking, visiting the source of the River Nile, and others.
The number of days on gorilla habituation safari, the more days on safari, the higher the package cost.
Time to book the gorilla habituation safari as the peak season, the safari costs are high due to high demand, while low season may attract discounted safari prices.
What accommodation To Book For Gorilla Habituation Adventure?
You need to book accommodation in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to do gorilla habituation.
The accommodation for gorilla habituation is graded according to luxury, mid-range, or budget facilities.
Some of the accommodations include Gorilla safari lodge, Clouds lodge, Nkuringo gorilla lodge, Trekker’s Tarvern, Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Hills Eco Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
What Not To Do During Gorilla Habituation?
- Do not enter the forest without an escorting ranger guide because there other unhabituated forest dwellers that may attack you, yet you have no defense.
- Provoking the mountain gorillas is forbidden because you may cause them to rage.
- Spitting on vegetation and on the ground is forbidden because you may spread an infection to the mountain gorillas
- Avoid getting so close to the mountain gorillas because they are wild animals. They may have an infection that may spread to you or them. Keep a distance of about 8 meters from them. Even when they move closer, they stealthily retreat.
- Wear a mask before starting the gorilla trek, and sanitize your shoes too. Change into a clean mask when you locate the mountain gorillas. This was a conservation measure adopted after the coronavirus pandemic.
- Never dump garbage in the wilderness, as it alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas’ food grows.
- No use of flash photography during gorilla habituation because mountain gorillas fear unfamiliar occurrences in their environment.
- Feeding the mountain gorillas is forbidden because wild animals must search for their own food. When you wish to smoke or eat, do it at least 300 meters away from the mountain gorillas.
- Children below 15 years are not allowed to habituate gorillas as the nature of the forest may not favor them or even the time of locating the mountain gorillas is unknown.
- Do not surround the mountain gorillas when you locate them so they don’t feel ambushed.
- In case you wish to have a long call, as the ranger guide, dig a hole for you at least 30 meters deep and cover well beyond recognition. Leave no chance for them to exhume what you have hidden.
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas. When you locate the mountain gorillas during habituation, you have four hours with them.
Contact us for more information about gorilla habituation age limit.