Many people are interested in doing the Gorilla Habituation experience but they are still stacked with the question of when to book a gorilla habituation safari? Well, you’re in luck today will give you the answers to all your pending questions about the experience.
Gorilla habituation experience is one that is carried out in only and only Bwindi NP and it’s done in the region of Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors which is currently looking at two Gorilla families of Byikyingi and Bushaho. Gorilla habituation was introduced in 2014 by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to all interested parties to have a chance and be part of the process.
To be specific Gorilla habituation refers to the process where an individual gorilla family is trained to get used to being around human beings. There are no criteria on choosing which group of Gorillas to habituated, but when a group is chosen, it usually takes about 2-3 years of constant habituating to ensure that they are ready to be tracked by visitors. During this time, a team of researchers, guides and rangers keep visiting the identified wild gorilla group daily; in this, the gorillas get used to humans and being around them. Remember gorillas are wild animals, and as such, they are very unpredictable if not trained. During gorilla habituation process allot takes place, researchers use this opportunity to study about the Gorillas and collect samples, learn the behaviour traits of individual gorillas hence know how to handle them. The naming of gorillas is done and to access when the group will be ready for tourists to visit. Once the researchers are such a group can now be trekked its put to the test through a mocking exercise where some few people are allowed to do the habituation experience.
A group ready for habituation is available to only 4 visitors per day per trek and they are accompanied by a team of researchers and rangers who will take them through the process of the habituation and one might say you get more out of this experience than in Gorilla tracking given you have up to four hours with the Gorillas once you meet them compared to the one hour in the normal tracking. If the habituation family in question is able to pass this mocking test, it’s then passed out for normal tracking. This seems to be very attractive, and many would want to buy on it but it should be noted that these are semi-habituated gorillas or gorillas under habituation and they are sometimes shy and elusive, they may decide to hide away from you and you just see them from a distance or sometimes they are on a move as you get closer to them to avoid your being close to them.
When is it best to book a gorilla habituation experience trip?
Gorilla habituation experience is done all throughout the year every day with only 4 permits availed per day. Since these Gorillas are still shy large numbers are discouraged hence the 4 people and usually, it’s done by people with great admiration of the Gorillas or scientists or photographers. The best time to visit is during the dry season months of the year which is June to August and December to February when the rains are not that much but it should be noted that Bwindi impenetrable national park is a rainforest and it can rain on any day any time. Habituation can also be done during the rainy months but this is less desirable as the gorillas move a lot hence the uncomfortable nature of terrine of Bwindi comes into play and the slippery grounds.
One should note that with 4 permits available per day you need to secure your trip in advance at list 3-4 hours before the trip date mostly for those looking at the dry season months as the permits sale is based on first come first serve and you are recommended to use a tour company. Encounter Africa Safaris is here to answer your question of which company to use as we will advise you on when to book and also provide you with availability for you to choose the dates that work for you and your trip. Click here to check the availability of permits.
There are other frequently asked questions about gorilla habituation that I believe if I don’t answer now I will have offered you have baked information and here they are;
How much is a gorilla habituation permit?
Unlike the gorilla tracking permit which is USD700.00 per person per trek, the gorilla habituation permit is a much expensive one at USD1500.00 per person per trek and only 4 permits are available per day so you need to book yours as soon as you can. This cost entitles you to 4 hours with the gorillas when you meet them and access to a team of researchers who will give you more and in-depth information about gorillas and the experience in general. The experience starts at 7:30am hence you must be at the park by 7:00am for briefing.
It should be noted that the minimum age for Gorilla Habituation is the same as that of Gorilla tracking and anyone 15 years and above is eligible to do the activity.
What is the difference between gorilla tracking and Gorilla habituation experience?
There are quite a number of difference between the experiences, first and foremost is the amount of time. With Gorilla tracking one is allocated just one hour with the Gorillas when you meet them and once the hour is done you are instructed to head out from the forest while for Gorilla habituation a visitor gets up to 4 hours with the Gorillas which I believe is enough time to view them, get information from the researcher, take photos and even on days when naming is done you take part in the naming ceremony.
The price is another differentiating factor, Gorilla permit price for one hour is USD600.00 per person per trek while for Gorilla habituation of four hours is USD1500.00 per person per trek.
Where to stay for Gorilla Habituation?
There are many accommodation facilities in both Rushaga and Nkuringo that one can choose from ranging from the luxury, mid-range to budget accommodation options and choosing where to stay would entirely depending on the clients desire and budget style of travel. Among these options include Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, 4 Gorillas Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Valley Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Rushaga Havens Lodge Bwindi, Nsongi Camp among others.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
There is easy access to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with the availability of options on travel either one can start the trip in Entebbe or from Kigali depending on where they are. Road trips available and Encounter Africa Safaris provides you with an option to travel either in a land cruiser or a 4×4 Safari Van suitable for trips.
The drive from Entebbe is approximately about 8-9 hours’ drive to Bwindi but a very scenic one with lots of stops along the way for photos and lunch. Our guides are very experienced and would not make a mistake of bypassing an interesting spot, they will always advise you, remember you get to stop at the Equator crossing in Kayabwe as well.
From Kigali, the drive is just one of not more than 4-5 hours with stops in Kigali at the genocide museum and at the border of Cyanika as you cross into Uganda. Ensure that you get an East African Visa to make it easy for re-entry if you are going back to Kigali at the end of your trip.
We do have domestic flights as well in Entebbe that will give you a connection to Kisoro Airstrip, the flight makes the route very short with just one hour to Kisoro and from here a car drives you to the lodge nearby in Bwindi for your Gorilla habituation experience the next day. Please note that all flights to Kisoro are morning flights due to the weather in the region.
For those interested in doing a safari that will note have any issues contact Encounter Africa Safaris and we will tailor one for you based on your likes or you can choose from our packages below: 3 Day Fly-in Gorilla Habituation Safari, 3 Day Gorilla Habituation experience safari, 5 Days Gorilla habituation and chimps safari, 5 Days Gorilla habituation and Game safaris. More packages here for you to book.
Encounter Africa safaris is a specialist safari destination management company with its head office in Uganda. We base here to offer memorable safari experience to all East African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. We have over 10 years of operation and we are highly recommended on Trip advisor and safari bookings.