Mountain Gorilla Habituation experience safari Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda has been launched at the Nkuringo National park in Uganda. The pilot project in the Rushaaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National park covers two Mountain gorilla families. The wild Mountain gorillas are undergoing habituation or taming, to introduce them to gorilla tourism. This is likely to take two or 3 years, up to a time when Mountain gorillas feel safe in the presence of Tourists. Presently, only a handful of visitors are allowed to visit the Mountain gorilla groups under habituation. Together with researchers, Uganda wildlife authority guides and trackers, the guests will enjoy 4 hours with the gorillas.
Gorilla habituation program:
Guests are woken up by 05:00am to have an early morning breakfast at the lodge. The gorilla habituation would then commence with the initial brief on how one is expected to behave in the presence of the Wild Mountain gorillas. Visitors will be checked for any signs of illnesses and those with flu symptoms or other communicable infections will be asked to stay back for a refund.
Thereafter, the team of researchers, data assistants, trackers and guides begin the gorilla habituation safari in the Bwindi Impenetrable National park Mountains. Visitors are requested to carry enough water and food, as well as take a porter to help with maneuvering through the Jungle.
Spoor tracking, signs Mountain gorillas leave behind.
As the heavy Mountain gorillas move through the forest, they leave behind signs from which the habituation team begin the trek. The gorillas make fresh nests every night and move long distances on the forest floor feeding on bark, bamboo shoots and berries.
Guides on the trail will point out the nests used by the Mountain gorillas the previous night. Along the trail, see eaten off pieces of plant material as well as gorilla droppings.
The Mountain gorilla family still shows signs of aggression and the guides will endeavor to keep distance to avoid confrontation.
Gorilla habituation sighting and length of visit
Instead of the usual 60 minutes allocated to the standard gorilla trek, a full 4 hours are spent with the gorillas. The gorilla habituation experience involves following the Mountain gorillas through steep mountain sides and thick Jungle. Researchers take notes and use of GPS enabled gear to record scientific data.
During the habituation, the gorillas are observed at play, grooming, making other gorillas and mock intimidating the trekkers. Just a group of 4 tourists get to stay with a large Mountain gorilla family on this safari.
A family of Mountain gorillas includes the dominant male, the silver back. His role is to lead a group of Mountain gorillas on a day by day foraging through the forest. Other individuals include the juveniles, black backs and females.
Planning for the Gorilla habituation experience
Only a total of 4 gorilla permits per day per group is available for the gorilla habituation experience. These are booked through the Uganda wildlife Authority reservation office. The cost for the gorilla permit is USD1500 per person per day. This allows a visitor a day of gorilla habituation with a guaranteed stay with the Mountain gorillas up to 4 hours.
After the gorilla permits are secured, one needs to have a look at a packing list for the gorilla habituation experience. It is important to have appropriate gear for the day in the forest. A lightweight trench coat or poncho should take care of the wet conditions in the forest. A waterproof day pack for keeping the picnic lunch and camera equipment can be considered.
Good trekking shoes, as well as water proof pants are a must for the crossing of rivers and in instances of the rains coming down.
Gorilla trackers should also consider a pair of gardening gloves and gators to minimize effects of the stinging nettles or the crawling bugs in the forest.
Bottled water and food may be carried by the hired porters; meanwhile, a good walking stick steadies the walk on uneven ground.
Gorilla Habituation Experience safari, 4 Day program:
Day one: On arrival at Entebbe, guests are met on arrival and a briefing about the gorilla habituation experience is conducted by the guide. Later, transfer to the overnight accommodation at the Boma in Entebbe booked on a bed and breakfast basis.
Day two: Morning breakfast and proceed to the airport for the morning flight over the Volcanoes into the Gorilla Sanctuary. The Lodge vehicle transfers from the airfield to the lodge for lunch, dinner and overnight at the Clouds Gorilla Lodge. Meal plan – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Day Three: Morning breakfast and depart to the park offices for the gorilla habituation safari. Spend the trek in the forest learning about all gorillas in the family. Gorillas are identified by their unique nose prints that differ from each individual. After 4 hours in the forest, the gorillas make a new nest for the night. Have a picnic lunch in the forest before heading back to the Clouds Gorilla Lodge for dinner and overnight. Meal plan – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Day Four: Morning breakfast at the Lodge and transfer by Lodge vehicle to the waiting aircraft for the return flight to Entebbe. Flight departs in the morning and arrives Entebbe around noon for onward flight connections.
Price for the Gorilla Habituation experience safari includes:
- Airport pick up and drop off for domestic flight.
- Return flights on Aerolink air from Entebbe
- Kisoro or kihiihi vehicle transfers to Gorilla Lodge accommodations
- 2 nights’ accommodation at Bwindi Mountain gorilla base
- 1 Night at the Lake Victoria Entebbe accommodation
- 1 Gorilla habituation experience permit
- Guides and porters on the gorilla trail
- Accommodation, meals and bottled water while trekking gorillas
Other Safari extensions for the Uganda gorilla habituation experience.
- Queen Elizabeth National park with tree climbing Lions
- African Gorilla Safari, Dian Fossey Tour
- Murchison falls Safari tour Uganda, 7 Days
- Rwanda Gorilla trek and Lake Bunyonyi
- Uganda honeymoon safari, 12 days
- Lion safari Uganda tour, 6 days
Gorilla habituation experience tips:
- Mountain gorillas undergoing habituation are still wild and distances between the family and visitors should be maintained at all times. Guides will advise guests based on gorilla family stress levels.
- Visitors are expected to keep the forest free of trash. All trash need to be taken out of the forest and dumped at designated points out of the park.
- Flash photography puts a strain on the Mountain gorillas and should be avoided. Guests are requested to enhance light conditions with other forms of equipment.
- Gorilla trekkers are advised to keep noise levels as low as possible. Chances of gorillas charging visitors increase with high noise levels in the forest.
- Imitation of the silver back can be taken as a challenge to the family and shouldn’t be tried at all. Crouching and showing submissiveness will calm the raging silver back in case of a mock charge.