Extend your stay with mountain gorillas by embarking on gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla habituation is entirely a process of making the wild gorillas familiar human presence and this normally takes about 2 to 3 years. It is the only rare experience that lets you spend the entire day following the mountain gorillas and four hours of magical encounter which is not a case with the usual gorilla treks. Gorilla habituation experience is also distinct from the usual gorilla trekking the fact that it involves mostly researchers, trackers, conservationists, scientists and it is conducted only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This park is found in the Southwestern side of Uganda about 8-10 hours’ drive from Kampala and 4 hours’ drive from Kigali Rwanda.
Compared to gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation is a rare product provided to visitors on Uganda gorilla safari by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Only 4 visitors are allowed to participate in this primate experience each day. So far, Kutu gorilla group is the only group set for gorilla habituation experience. Kutu group is still under habituation experience in Rushaga region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the South. It is a group comprising of 8 members and led by one silverback gorilla.
Gorilla habituation experience permits
Each gorilla habituation experience permits goes at $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and shs.750000 for East African citizens. You can secure your permit through a trustworthy tour operator or directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Persons above 15 years are allowed to go for habituation experience just like it is a case with the normal gorilla trekking. Visitors on Uganda gorilla safari are advised to reserve their gorilla habituation experience permits early at least 6 months or even one year before the actual trip.
When to go for gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation experience can be done at any time of the year. The dry season is preferably the best since the habitat remains relatively drier making it easier for you to follow these creatures. The dry months of the year in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park start from June to September and December to February.
The wet season is also ideal although there is much rainfall which makes the habitat slippery thus making it a bit challenging to following the mountain gorillas. The rainy months in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park occur from March to May and October to November.
What to pack for gorilla habituation experience?
Since gorilla habituation experience takes a bit longer hours, you need at least two bottled drinking water, energy giving snacks/packed lunch, hiking boots that are lightweight and waterproof, gardening gloves, first aid kit, insect repellents, camera with no flashlight, walking stick-find one at the park headquarters/where you will be briefed from, long sleeved shirt, trousers, socks, waterproof daypack, permit, valid passport, visa and many more.
Accommodation in Rushaga
The available gorilla lodges in and around Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for visitor stay while on gorilla habituation experience tour include among others-Rushaga gorilla camp, Nshongi camp, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Gorilla Safari Lodge.
Getting to Rushaga region of Bwindi
Rushaga region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is accessible by road and by air. By road, visitors on gorilla habituation experience tour can start their journey from Kampala/Entebbe and this may take about 8-10 hours but this normally depends on the route you take. Interesting, en-route you can make a stopover at Uganda Equator crossing for photography. From Kigali Rwanda, you can cross to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Katuna or Chanika border and this may take you 4 hours of driving.
By air, there are flight services offered to visitors on gorilla habituation experience tour starting from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. On landing at anyone of these airstrips, you will be transferred to the lodge in Rushaga region by a comfortable 4×4 drive safari vehicle.
Other activities to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
A side from mountain gorilla habituation experience, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also ideal for gorilla trekking, bird watching, cycling trips, guided nature walks, Batwa forest experience, Batwa cultural experience to mention but a few.