Uganda gorilla habituation experience
Uganda gorilla habituation experience : Gorilla habituation is an exciting activity where the wild gorillas are trained to get used to human presence before they are open for trekking. Gorilla habituation in Uganda was introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority in January 2014 for visitors to spend more time with the gorillas. There are about 1063 mountain gorillas in the world and about 459 are found in Uganda which makes it the best gorilla destination in Africa. Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in two national parks namely bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most visited national park in Uganda in that it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas which are found in four sectors including Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma and Nkuringo.
Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is carried out in Rushaga sector southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park. gorilla habituation process takes a period of 2 to 3 years before a gorilla family is open for trekking and it involves a team of conservationists, researchers, rangers, trackers, gorilla doctors and visitors who repeatedly visit the mountain gorillas in their natural environment as they observe and monitor their behaviors, lifestyle until the gorillas get familiar with the human presence.
Gorilla habituation experience only allows four visitors to participate in the activity which starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations at the park headquarters. At 7:30am you will start trekking in the jungle with guides, rangers, researchers, conversations in search of a wild gorilla family under habituation. Once the gorilla group has been found visitors will spend four hours with them in their natural environment and during the four hours visitors will get an opportunity of observing, monitoring and learning about their behaviors, habits, giving each individual a name, take photos and videos. Once the researchers are sure that the mountain gorillas can be trekked a mock exercise will be introduced and it involves a team of scientists and journalists who will start visiting the gorilla family and when the family passes the mock exercise it will be opened for trekking.
Cost of a gorilla habituation permit in Uganda
A single gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 for East African citizens. A gorilla habituation permit in Uganda can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) by contacting the offices through email or telephone calls or by through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When booking through a tour operator you will contact us with the date, months and year when you want to engage in the habituation process. We will check for permit availability and if the permits are available you will be asked to send a scanned copy of your passport which will be used to register your permit. When we receive the money we will acquire the permit and send you a scanned copy of the receipt as confirmation. Booking through a tour operator is the best option in that we will save you all the hustle and also plan for your entire safari which involves transportation, meals, accommodation among others.
A gorilla habituation permit should however be acquired 3 to 6 months in advance before the actual date because the permits are competitive due to the fact that there are only four permits available daily therefore in order to avoid last minute disappointments, visitors are advised to book in advance.
Where to stay on your gorilla habituation safari
There are a number of luxury, midrange and budget accommodations where you can stay on your Uganda gorilla habituation safari including Gorilla Safari Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Nshongi Gorilla Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Rushaga Valley lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge among others.
How to get to Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in southwestern part of Uganda and can be accessed by both road and air transport means.
Road transport, when using road you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale and then to Rushaga sector in the southern part of the park which takes 10 to 12 hour drive. Though the journey is long it’s worth it in terms of spectacular views on the way such as beautiful scenery, landscapes, hills, homesteads, local people among others.
You can also use public means of transport where by you will board a bus from Kampala bus station to Kabale town and then hire a private taxi to Rushaga sector because there are no public means of transport to the park. Visitors are however advised not to use public means of transport because you can be overcharged.
Air transport, there are domestic airlines in Uganda such as Aerolink which operate scheduled and charter flights from Entebbe airport or Kajansi airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. The flights take about one hour and fifteen minutes and upon arrival you will connect to the park headquarters by road. This is however to best option for visitors who don’t like travelling long distances.
Rushaga sector can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda, this is the shortest route where by visitors will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to Rushaga sector via Cyanika border in Kisoro and the journey takes about 3 to 4 hour drive.
Best time to go for gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this period there is less rainfall in the forest therefore the gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable compared to the rainy season when the trails are muddy and slippery, you will also be able to have a successful interaction with the gorillas during the four hours without any disturbances of rainfall.
Other activities in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Apart from gorilla habituation experience there are other interesting activities in the park such as Gorilla trekking where you will spend one hour with the habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat, Bird watching where you will view various bird species such as Albertine endemic birds, migratory birds, forest birds, Nature walks, Community tour where you will get an opportunity of interacting with the Batwa/pygmies who live outside the park among others.