How to plan a Rushaga gorilla habituation experience safari from Kigali Rwanda.
How to plan a Rushaga gorilla habituation experience safari from Kigali Rwanda. The gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga area is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you have four hours in the company of semi-habituated mountain gorillas. You must secure a gorilla habituation permit, of which only 8 gorilla permits are open for habituation experience.
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The southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the only sector where you can experience gorilla habituation. This sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is composed of two areas that is Rushaga and Nkuringo area.
Knowing the number of gorilla habituation experience permits to book upfront saves you the trouble of going back and forth with checking permit availability.
Accommodation booking must be a priority, too, as you plan to do gorilla habituation from the Rushaga area. You may spend your gorilla safari nights in Rushaga or Nkuringo area since they are both close to one another.
You must plan how to get to the Rushaga area from Kigali, Rwanda, by road or air. When you use the road, you cross Uganda from Kigali via Gatuna and Cyanika borders to Kabale then Rushaga area. By air, you fly from Kigali airport to Entebbe airport then connect with the Daily domestic flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi to Kisoro airstrip.
Before detailing how to lay a pay for your gorilla habituation experience safari, let’s first under what gorilla habituation experience means.
What is Gorilla Habituation Experience?
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where a maximum of four tourists escort a team of researchers to follow a semi-habituated gorilla family and stay with them for four hours. During this adventure, you may collect samples from these mountain gorillas, noting the characteristics of these mountain gorillas and so much more.
The behaviors of these semi-habituated mountain gorillas are odd as they may go into hiding, hoot at visitors, thump their chests unnecessarily, and so much more drama. You need to follow the guidelines of gorilla habituation experience to enjoy the entire experience.
How To Plan Rushaga Gorilla Habituation Experience from Kigali
Reserve Uganda gorilla Habituation Experience Permit
To confirm any Uganda gorilla safari, you need a gorilla permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, as it has the mandate to sell and regulate these permits. Checking availability of the gorilla habituation permits per your date of preference and the number of people you hope to travel with.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, our safari consultants are ready to assist you in checking the availability of gorilla permits, planning with your input the additional activities, offering the safari package of your budget and giving free answers and advice on how to go about the gorilla habituation experience.
During the peak seasons, which are June, July, August, September, December, and January, demand for gorilla permits is extremely high, yet a first come, first served basis is used when securing gorilla permits. Sometimes tour operators buy off the gorilla permits for this season as stock for their clients. Amidst all this, you may also find availability.
It would be best if you secured your gorilla habituation permit as soon as you find availability, as last-minute gorilla permits may not be available, especially in the peak seasons.
How much Is the Gorilla Habituation Experience Permit for Rushaga area?
Currently, a gorilla habituation experience permit costs $1500 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents, $1000 for foreign residents and 750000shs for East African residents. These gorilla habituation permits are open per day, but at the moment, only 4 per gorilla family can be purchased.
The cost of gorilla habituation experience permit covers researcher fees, ranger guide fees, park entrance fees, security, mountain gorilla conservation, local community support, certificate after gorilla habituation experience and so much more.
Exclusions in the cost of gorilla habituation permit are accommodation, porter hire, transport, snacks and other personal expenses.
Decide and book accommodation to use during Gorilla habituation experience
The Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a number of accommodation facilities of all categories: luxury, mid-range and budget. You can also overnight in Nkuringo area as its just a small distance away.
To enjoy your gorilla habituation experience, you need comfortable accommodation that fits your budget plan.
Rushaga Accommodations: Rushaga Gorilla Safaris Lodge, Clouds Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Nkuringo Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers’ Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
It’s best to overnight within or closer to the Rushaga area to prevent chances of having to rise in the dark to drive to catch up with the briefing. The routes connecting one area of Bwindi to another may have obstacles sometimes like fallen logs across the road, slippery slopes, poor visibility and so much more.
Secure Transport To Use During Gorilla Habituation Safari
You need a 4×4 vehicle as roads in this area get messy and slippery because of the terrain in the southwestern part of Uganda. The drive from Kigali to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 5 to 6 hours crossing via Cyanika and Gatuna border to Kabale to Kisoro to Rushaga.
Having an experienced and professional driver guide who knows how to drive in Rwanda roads and the switch to Uganda roads is very important. Rushaga area has alternative routes you may use in case one gets messy, so he should be in a position to take such drastic decisions in the shortest time possible in case it’s necessary.
Enjoy the scenic views, especially the rolling hills of Rwanda and Kigezi sub-region of Uganda.
Compared to the long drive from Entebbe airport to Rushaga in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is about 8 hour to 9 hours excluding stopovers, the drive from Kigali to Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is slightly shorter.
You can flight from Kigali Airport in Rwanda to Entebbe Airport and catch up with the daily domestic flights to Kisoro airstrip. You must hire a transfer vehicle, too, as there is about 1 hour and a half drive to the Rushaga area from Kisoro airstrip.
Charter flights are available from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kisoro Airstrip.
Identify additional activities to combine with gorilla habituation experience.
If you have extra days on holiday, you can book other Uganda safari activities to combine with gorilla habituation to carry more about Uganda on your return home.
Uganda serves a cocktail of safari activities just like its slogan “a country endowed by nature”. Some Uganda safari activities include chimpanzee trekking game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Lake Mburo National Park.
Together with our safari consultant, you can tailor the best Uganda safari itinerary that can give you a glimpse into different Uganda safari destinations. A combo of Gorilla habituation experience with chimpanzee trekking, game safaris and others creates lifetime memories
When Is the Best Time to do Gorilla Habituation Experience in Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is open all year; however, the dry season is most desired. The mountain gorillas are more active and the entire forest is full of life too. The rains are relatively moderate, although Bwindi forest is known to receive untimely rains.
The dry season of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is normally June, July, August, September, December, and January. The traits may not be soggy, and rivers flow in the normal course, although Bwindi forest is the water catchment area for the surrounding areas.
You must note that demand for gorilla habituation experience permits for the peak season is high so last-minute permits are challenging.
The low-season gorilla habituation permits may be more open to last-minute booking, although only a guarantee sometimes. The low Uganda tourism season is normally March, April, May and November. This is normally the wet season for Bwindi forest, so you must pack rainproof gear as it falls at any time without warning.
Demand for gorilla permits is relatively low, so even chances of getting discounts on some safari amenities are high, like accommodations, driver guide hire, and others.
What is the duration of Gorilla habituation Experience?
Four hours are allowed with the mountain gorillas when you locate them, but the time of finding the mountain gorillas is still being determined. Some tourists have found the mountain gorillas in two hours, while others have spent more than three-quarters of the days.
A number of factors determine the time of finding the mountain gorillas like food proximity, in case of a fight with another gorilla family, adventurous nature of the mountain gorillas, weather conditions prevailing in the day, pace of other tourists and so much more.
You need to bare some level of fitness and patience to enjoy the entire gorilla habituation experience. Open your mind to other interesting features in the forest, like waterfalls, watching other primates, and highlands, to mention but a few.
The moment you finally set eyes on the mountain gorillas is full of mixed fillings of joy and anxiety, especially for first-timers. The mountain gorillas look intimidating because of their huge body structure covered in dark fur and knuckle locomotion style. When you are finally immersed in the daily life of the mountain gorillas, you will realize how shy and calm they are.
Is Gorilla Habituation Experience Tiring?
Doing gorilla trekking is tiresome because of the nature of the topography of this area which is volcanic. Sometimes mountain gorillas spend their time on the slopes, so you need to hike to connect with them. This is draining, so you must have some level of fitness.
The vegetation of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is impenetrable just like the local meaning of the word “Bwindi “. This vegetation has accumulated over 30000 years, so creepers are tangled and draping over the plateaus and ridges. To go through these spooky spots, the ranger with a machete has to trim them to create a path in order to find the mountain gorillas.
It would be best if you carried safari boots and safari wear that will protect your body from harsh conditions in the wilderness. Pack some energy bites that you will snack on while you are tired during the such to locate the mountain gorillas.
The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest tourist so that nobody is rushed or forgotten in this thick forest.
Why must I hire A Porter For the Gorilla Habituation Experience?
As pointed out before, the gorilla habituation experience is tiring, but when you hire a porter, he or she can assist in carrying your gorilla safari gear so you can walk freely. The porter can also give you a push when tired to carry on.
Hiring a porter is one of the direct ways to contribute to the livelihood of the locals. The money they acquire from being porters is used to support running their day-to-day lives, purchasing scholastic materials, and so much more.
Although tipping is not compulsory, when you tip these porters generously, you contribute to their livelihood and encourage them to also fight for the survival of the mountain gorillas.
Are Mountain Gorillas Aggressive During Gorilla Habituation Experience?
Although the mountain gorillas under gorilla habituation experience are semi-habituated, they are not aggressive. Mountain gorillas are calm, shy, and serene in nature despite their intimidating outlook. Even the public portrays them as aggressive, especially in films and animations.
When you visit the mountain gorillas, you get firsthand experience about their reality life. Before being opened to public visits, these mountain gorillas are habituated although only partially. By this stage, these mountain gorillas can bear the presence of humans for at least 4 hours, although their wild traits are still present.
During briefing, you are given the guidelines of mountain gorilla habituation experience and what you have to do in case they start behaving in an unusual way.
Mountain gorillas are adorable primates even when departing you feel a sense of connection with them.
Contact us for more information and let us plan your gorilla habituation safari to Rushaga.