Need something special away from the ordinary gorilla trekking? Then try gorilla habituation in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park than the normal gorilla trekking in Uganda. While the internet flourishes with personal stories about gorilla trekking experiences, gorilla habituation remains a soft-spoken but highly coveted wildlife experience in Africa. It is slightly expensive though.
Gorilla habituation experience is done by visitors in company of ranger guides, researchers, and trackers; this process literally means training / taming the wild mountain gorillas to get accustomed to human presence. This can take up to two years, or sometimes even more depending on how fast the gorillas get used.
Gorilla Habituation experience involves generally observing the behaviors, chores and day – to – day activities of the wild gorillas until they get fully accustomed to human presence. A gorilla habituation permit in Uganda costs $1500 per person, and this gives one up to 4 hour experience with a semi – habituated mountain gorilla family, more than the usual gorilla trekking experience which only lasts for up to one hour.
Gorilla habituation is only done in Rushaga sector, in the south of Bwindi impenetrable national park and only 4 individuals are allowed to do habituation per day.
The Day of Gorilla Habituation
On a typical habituation day, you wake up as early as 6:30 am for breakfast and prepare to meet a particular gorilla family of 10 or so individuals. Early morning, a semi – gorilla family can be seen foraging and noshing on figs while visitors move around and get an up-close encounter during this trek. One by one, trekkers can clearly see the giant silverback as he commands his group.
The trek through the unpaved trails amidst Bwindi jungles can sometimes be arduous but the reward is of course an extraordinary opportunity to observe an entire spectrum of their natural behaviors: babies as young as 8 months old clumsily swinging from tree to tree, the “mighty father” taking a rest or unconsciously staring at the new visitors in his territory.
Mountain gorillas are slow in nature than their counterparts the chimpanzees in their feeding habits. So one doesn’t have to walk that fast to catch a glimpse or take a picture.
Gorilla habituation is a four hour experience, therefore trekkers ought to pack enough lunch, drinking water and lots of snacks because of the long walks. Trekkers are not allowed to smoke, drink or eat anything in the presence of gorillas. The ranger guides will advise on a proper place to eat as well as those who might need to use “bush toilet” for “number two”. Take as much photos as you wish, provided the camera does not have flash light.
Apart from gorilla habituation, Bwindi national park presents endless opportunities of encountering many other mammal and primate species, including the Black and White Colobus Monkeys, vervet monkeys, and baboons, Central African Monkeys, L’Hoests’ Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, and the Ugandan Red Colobus Monkeys.
Mammals include the Red and Blue Duikers, Sitatungas, the Giant Forest Hogs, Bushbucks, forest elephants, Bush pigs, African forest Buffalo and Common Warthogs. Carnivores like the otter species, Leopards, African Golden cats, etc.
As an Important Birding Area, Bwindi presents prolific population of bird species with an estimated 350 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. The recorded bird species include African Emerald Cuckoo, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, Red-headed Bluebill, Common Bulbul, short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as 7 IUCN red-listed bird species.
An amazing cocktail presenting all reasons to go for a gorilla Habituation safari because it is an exhilarating, educational and adventurous experience you wouldn’t want to miss out during your tour in Uganda.