Gorilla habituation is the only unique experience at which Uganda beats its counterparts as far as mountain gorilla experience is concerned. The activity is only done in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Rushaga Sector. There are only 2 Gorilla families where Gorilla habituation is done. Gorilla habituation is far different from Gorilla trekking in that for Gorilla habituation the guests spend a longer time with the Gorillas which is 4 hours plus after meeting the gorillas. Secondly in Gorilla habituation, the guests are grouped in 4 people per group as opposed to Gorilla trekking where the guests are 8 in a group for one gorilla family.
With the Gorilla habituation experience, guests spend more time with the gorillas sometimes it may take even the full day though the time which is spent with the gorillas is 4 hours. The experience is best for the primate researchers who want to have more information about the Gorillas. One has to book the Gorilla habituation permits early enough since the demand is high yet space is minimal. The habituation permit costs 1500 USD per person and you enjoy the lifetime experience of the mountain Gorillas. Currently, the Uganda Wildlife Authority have set apart only 2 Gorilla families in Bwindi found in the Rushaga sector where Gorilla habituation is done. These two gorilla families are the Bikingi gorilla family and the Bushaho gorilla family. They are also called gorilla research families.
Gorilla habituation is a process by which the park authorities and other responsible partners are involved in the training or taming of the gorillas to get used to Humans. It is more of research on the detailed character of the Gorillas which are still on the wilderness. The experience lasts for a period of 2 to 3 years. But this is different from the habituation experience of Uganda where the Uganda wildlife Authority has set apart the gorilla families as research families. The activity is tiresome as it involves more movements for the full day hence requiring a certain level of physical fitness by the guests. The time taken is worth the experience one gets while with the Gorillas. Film-makers always prefer this experience so as to make a full documentary on the lifestyle of the mountain gorillas from the time a gorilla wakes up till late when it rests.
The habituation of these primates starts more early at 7:30 am so as to get the entire activity of the Gorillas finding them when they are still on their nests. Like Gorilla trekking, Gorilla habituation starts with a briefing on the details of the family you are going to visit. The ranger will tell you all the rules and regulations, experience expectations, packing list and other relevant information that will make your experience more successful. Gorilla habituation is experience is still on the small scale since its still on its early stages of a pilot study that is why there are only two gorilla families that are located for Gorilla habituation program. On a daily basis, each family is allowed a maximum of 4 people strictly. All the park rules and regulations are in their maximum observation.
The Democratic Republic of Congo also does gorilla habituation but for lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park. Rwanda has not yet started this experience yet. Uganda has 19 habituated gorilla families which are open for gorilla trekking making it the country with the highest number of Gorilla families. Hence gorilla trekking is on high gear with each Gorilla family being tracked by 8 people per day.
The habituation permits are all booked as early as four to five months in advance. You can book your own permit through the website of the Uganda wildlife Authority or directly from their head office in Kampala. The other quick alternative is using reputable local tour operators who will book for you with a full Gorilla habituation safari package. Booking with local operators is good because they give you detailed information on the packing list as you prepare yourself for the successful experience.
There are many habituation safari packages that are offered by different operators. These packages range from 3 days Gorilla habituation safari, 5 days Gorilla habituation and wildlife safari and many more. There are rules and regulations that guests follow when doing the Gorilla habituation. These are must follow rules to all the guests before and during the gorilla habituation.
It’s also advisable for the guests to be physically fit since the activity is done for the whole day. It is not like gorilla trekking where the guests can choose fair and near gorilla families to trek. There are only two gorilla families for Gorilla habituation hence giving guests no option of choice but to do it. You should carry enough water and some parked food with you. There are also potters available for hire at a negotiable rate that you will agree with them. All the tourists if your hiring private cars or doing everything on your own please make sure you book accommodation in the Rushaga sector or in the Nkuringo sector which are near each other.