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Gorilla discovery is a safari tour and travel company based in Uganda, fully licensed to conduct safaris within Uganda and Rwanda. We offer several tours and safaris in Uganda including Gorilla Tours, wildlife adventures, mountaineering trips

Stay Longer with Bwindi Gorillas through Gorilla Habituation

Stay Longer with Bwindi Gorillas through Gorilla Habituation

Stay Longer with Bwindi Gorillas through Gorilla Habituation

Are you looking to stay longer with Bwindi gorillas through gorilla habituation experience in Uganda? Most primate lovers prefer to spend more time with gorillas while at Bwindi forest but they are wondering how gorillas can allow them in their presence. This article will help you to know how to make gorilla trekking and gorilla tourism possible. Gorillas are found in the tropical rainforests of the west, east as well as in central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two gorilla species that is the Eastern and the Western gorilla. Also, these gorilla species are categories into two subspecies like the eastern gorilla involves mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas while the western gorilla is consists of the cross river gorilla and the western lowland gorilla. All gorilla species are taken as endangered and they are behind the red list of the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN).  Different organizations have come out to take action and support all programs to conserve them.

Mountain gorilla conservation in Rwanda, DR. Congo, and Uganda has attracted more attention due to the initial work and accessibility created by Dian Fossey. All gorilla natural habitats in these three countries have turned into a national park to protect and conserve these primates. This is the reason why the owner of these areas that are the Batwa was chased away from the forests to avoid any conflicts with the primates. To attract more funds and expose the trouble of gorillas to the audience. Many countries in Africa were interested in launching gorilla trekking. To trek, a gorilla group can only be done when they are habituated.

All about the Gorilla Habituation process

Gorilla habituation is the process of making gorillas familiar to people in their presence. This process is one of the best ways to conserve gorillas. These primates are naturally wild creatures and they can’t feel comfortable with any strangers in their presence include humans. To visit them, they need to be used to humans near them. Gorilla habituation takes like 3 years and is done by primate researchers. This process is done by identifying a good group, followed daily, and observed to know more about their behavior. This process helps to win the gorilla’s trust so that they can allow people in their presence whenever they choose to. When this process is complete, the habituated group can be open for gorilla trekking or to tourists. Dian Fossey is one of the researchers who discovered many ways of making gorillas familiar to humans in their midst. One of the ways she discovered is that to be allowed by a gorilla family, you have to first win the trust of the silverback. So when he’s okay with everything, the other members just follow him.

Gorilla Habituation experience only taking place in Uganda.

Gorilla trekking was first started in Uganda (1991). Half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas are live in Uganda. The first gorilla family to be habituated in Uganda were Mubare Katendegyere and Kaguliro. But Katendegyere gorilla family in 1998 was split from 11 members to 3 and others crossed to DR. Congo. More gorilla groups were habituated due to high interest in gorilla trekking from international tourists. Like today, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park consists of 17 habituated gorilla groups. It is also a national park not only in Africa but the whole world with the highest population of habituated gorillas groups. Since Bwindi forests have a high number of the habituated gorilla groups, this forced the Uganda Wildlife Authority to introduce the gorilla habituation experience to those who are interested in learning more about the mountain gorillas. When you participate in the gorilla habituation process, you will get to know what the researchers and primatologists go through in the process of habituating the gorillas. Gorilla habituation is better than gorilla trekking because it gives a big chance to observe the primates for 4 hours. The Bwindi forest has only two gorilla groups which are already for gorilla habituation experience and these two groups are found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi. One is known as the Bushaho gorilla family and another one is called the Bikyingi gorilla family. In Uganda, a permit for gorilla habituation experiences is goes to 1500USD per person and each group is tracked by only 4 people in a day.

Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi

One to do gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi forest national park must purchase a gorilla habituation permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through Africa Adventure Vacations. After getting a permit for gorilla habituation, you will be travel directly to the Rushaga sector where the two gorilla groups are already for tourists. As with gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation experience in the Bwindi forest is also starts with a briefing very early in the morning. Briefing involves an introduction to the research team, to know the gorilla groups in the forest, gorilla trekking rules, what to pack, and what to expect. After there, you will be allocated one gorilla group and a team of researchers who will take you into the forest. This team includes rangers, trackers, and armed park who are forest experts and will take you where to find the gorilla family. Finding a gorilla group takes 1-2 hours. Gorilla habituation experience involves following the gorillas to know more about their lifestyle like how mothers feed their youngers ones, how they make nests, what they feed on, what they do after wake up, their behavior, you will also know the role of a dominant silverback to other members.

While tracking gorillas, the rangers will tell you all the information about the gorillas and which ways they have used to protect them in the world. You will also get to know the key players in gorilla conservation like the gorilla doctors, worldwide Fund for Nature, and Dian Fossey Fund. Bwindi forest is blessed with many tourists attractions apart from gorilla trekking, other tourist attractions to do in the forest include; bird watching with over 350 bird species, nature walks, tracking smaller primates like monkeys, chameleons as well as chimpanzees if you’re lucky enough.

What to pack for gorilla trekking

You must have a gorilla permit and passport on your packing list all the time.  A passport and gorilla permits must be introduced at park headquarters for verification to confirm whether the passport is yours if you’re old enough because one of the gorilla trekking rules is that tourists below 15 years of age are not allowed to trek.  A passport is also used to know the gorilla group one can manage to trek. Some families need you to be strong enough. The following is what you need on your packing list which includes; hiking boots, a long-sleeved shirt, a good camera with extra batteries, a rain jacket, garden gloves, insect repellent, a walking stick, energy drinks, and among others.

The best time to visit Bwindi forest for a gorilla habituation experience.

Gorilla habituation experience in the Bwindi forest can be done all year. But the most recommended time is during the dry season which is from December-March and June-October when the hiking trails are not too slippery and muddy which makes the hiking experience excellent. The wet season is also good to do gorilla trekking because during that time their more food in the forest and primates are no longer moving long distances. Even in this season, primates look healthier and more beautiful. However, all hiking trails are used to be slippery and muddy, as it can rain for the whole day. Please note, the wet season is good for the budget tourists since there is no high demand for gorilla habituation experience permits.

Different between gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking.

Gorilla trekking habituation experience has just started recently while gorilla trekking has been here for almost 30 years. Gorilla habituation experience is more exclusive and gives a chance to tourists to spend more time with them than gorilla trekking. Tourists for gorilla habituation experience have 4 hours to observe gorillas whereas gorilla trekking is just for only 1 hour. Gorilla habituation experience is done by only 4 visitors per gorilla group each day while gorilla trekking is carried out by 8 people to track the gorillas. Gorilla habituation experience consists of tracking the wild gorillas while gorilla trekking is involved the semi-wild. Gorilla families under the gorilla habituation experience are not familiar to humans. Also, gorilla habituation experience is led by a team of primatologists and researchers, this makes it to be a wonderful adventure experience and educative whereas a standard gorilla trekking is led by park rangers and guides. The gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi costs 1500USD per person while a gorilla trekking permit goes costs 700USD per person per trek.