Gorilla Habituation experience in Bwindi national park has been introduced by the Uganda Wildlife authority for visitors to get involved in the gorilla habituation precess. The gorilla habituation adventure gives tourists more time upto 4 hours wihtand a greater chance to get to know more about their closest wild relatives the mountain gorillas. Uganda has over 450 mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest that live in the three major sectors (areas) that the park has (Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector and Rushaga sector)
The mountain gorilla habituation process that has just been introduced in the Rushaga sector involves tourists and rangers following a mountain gorilla group and training it to get accustomed to human beings presence in their natural environment.
The mountain gorilla habituation process involves repetitively visiting the mountain gorillas by well-experienced rangers and researchers plus some tourists as they observe a particular mountain gorilla family until a time when the mountain gorillas learn to tolerate the presence of humans in their natural environments.
Tourists going for mountain gorilla habituation are expected to report the national park headquarters by 7:30 am in the morning for a briefing about the whole process. While here, they are also told about the major safety procedures to follow while in the forest to ensure a successful jungle expedition and to get the best of the mountain gorilla habituation experience.
After the briefing, tourists are directed to the forest as they follow the mountain gorilla group undergoing habituation. This time incase of only one hour, tourists have four hours to spend with the mountain gorillas in the forested mountains. The four hours with the gorillas does not include the time taken to hike up the forested mountains to get to the mountain gorillas which makes the mountain gorilla habituation experience a very enjoyable activity way more than just mountain gorilla tracking where tourists only spend an hour with the mountain gorillas.
Currently, there are two mountain gorilla groups in the Rushaga sector that are undergoing the habituation process (Bikingi and Bushaho) and only 4 tourists are allowed to be part of habituation. The mountain gorilla habituation permit is sold at $1500 per person and can be bought personally from the Uganda wildlife authority in Kampala or got through a trusted tour operator. The mountain gorilla habituation permits should be booked early enough because there are very few slots for tourists and besides that the mountain gorilla habituation process is a highly desired activity.
The mountain gorilla habituation rules and regulations are similar to mountain gorilla tracking rules and they include the following;
- Always following the guides and rangers instructions
- Keeping in the group to avoid getting lost
- Not making a lot of noise in the forest and when in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
- Keeping at least a distance of 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas
- Not imitating the mountain gorilla habits
- Not using flash photography while taking the mountain gorilla pictures
- Not going for the habituation experience while sick as you can easily pass on the disease to the mountain gorillas
Its also very wise for one to be in good physical shape because the gorilla habituation is a whole day experience of following a mountain gorilla group through the forested mountains requiring the rangers and the tourists to keep up with the pace of the mountain gorillas. There are however porters for hire who can carry luggage or the tourist on a stretcher in case hired. They are hired for about $10 to $15.
Persons who are 15 years and above are the only ones allowed going for the mountain gorilla habituation experience.
Tourists going for this activity are recommended to book accommodation around the Rushaga sector to avoid any inconveniences when going to the national park headquarters.