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WILDLIFE

A unique opportunity to participate in the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

by Tom Blakey

For many people coming face-to-face with gorillas in their natural habitat is the ultimate wildlife experience. Gorilla treks in Rwanda and Uganda typically offer an opportunity to spend up to one precious hour with a family of wild mountain gorillas.

However, for those who wish to enjoy more time with these fascinating creatures there’s a unique opportunity to participate in a full day Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

In this guide we provide an overview about our gorilla treks in Uganda, plus information about how you can be part of the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Our tailor made holidays to Uganda offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to trek deep into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with an experienced tracker in search of a gorilla family.

Your trek could last up to three hours depending on the exact location of the specific gorilla family which you’re tracking. When you finally meet your allocated gorilla family you’ll have the chance to spend up to one incredible hour quietly observing them in their natural habitat.

No wildlife encounter on earth can compare to standing a few meters from the gorillas. It will undoubtedly be a magical experience that you’ll never ever forget.

For those who wish to spend more than one hour with the gorillas there is a rare opportunity to participate in a full day Gorilla Habituation Experience, run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which allows you to spend up to four hours with these magnificent creatures. This is only available in the southern part of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Two gorilla families (Bikyingi & Bushaho) are currently being habituated in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In order to become accustomed to the presence of humans, each gorilla group has undergone a lengthy habituation process (between 3-5 years) managed by a team of expert researchers, conservationists, trackers and rangers.

Park rangers start the habituation process by spending a short period of time with the gorillas each day, maintaining a specific distance that represents the limit of the gorillas’ comfort zone, then every few months they gradually increase the time and reduce the distance until they are certain that the gorillas are ready for tourists to visit them.

Whilst the gorillas are not yet completely habituated (the gorillas are used to trackers and rangers, but not to strangers or tourists) the Gorilla Habituation Experience will help to ensure that they will eventually become fully comfortable in the company of humans.

By participating in the Gorilla Habituation Experience you are supporting the crucial work in habituating gorillas and ensuring their survival. It is truly humbling to think that you will be one of the first humans to meet these gorillas.

This experience offers a more relaxed and enriching encounter with the gorillas. You’ll feel less rushed and you’ll have plenty of time to fully absorb this incredible wildlife experience.

During your time with your gorilla family you can immerse yourself in their world as they continue to go about their daily lives - feeding and interacting with each other, under the watchful gaze of the mighty Silverback.

On this experience you’ll get a better understanding of gorilla tracking and gorilla behaviour than on a normal trek.

Wayfairer Top Tip: The Gorilla Habituation Experience is ideal for photographers as it offers more time to capture the perfect shot, however we advise against spending the entire time looking through your camera lens – you should focus on the experience as well as taking your photographs.

Additional Information

Permits for regular gorilla treks in Uganda are currently $600 per person. (The cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda increased to $1500 per person in 2017).

It is important to remember that revenue generated from the permits funds conservation activities, including buying medicine, paying veterinarians and park rangers, improving infrastructure, and improving the livelihood of communities living around Bwindi forest.

Permits for the Gorilla Habituation Experience cost $1,500 per person.

A maximum of four visitors per day are allowed to participate in the Gorilla Habituation Experience (compared to eight for a normal gorilla trek) and there are only two gorilla families (Bikyingi and Bushaho) which can be visited as part of this experience.

We recommend booking at least six months in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the peak seasons which are from July-October and December-March.

We can incorporate the Gorilla Habituation Experience into any of our Uganda tailor made holidays (subject to permit availability).

If you’d like to join a gorilla trek or participate in the Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park send our Luxury Travel Specialist an online enquiry to start your journey.

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