Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda

Gorillas! Volcanos National Park, Rwanda

Ugan­da is a top des­ti­na­tion for those inter­est­ed in tour­ing moun­tain goril­las. They are over half of the total num­ber of the moun­tain goril­las across the globe. Moun­tain goril­las have in the past been trekked, but a new fea­ture has been added to the moun­tain goril­la tourism alto­geth­er. It’s known as moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion. Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble Nation­al Park is Uganda’s cen­tral des­ti­na­tion to view the pri­mates and is sit­u­at­ed in the South West­ern region of the coun­try. Tourists now can have over an hour inter­act­ing with the moun­tain gorillas.

Habit­u­a­tion is done in the pres­ence of rangers and guides to guar­an­tee safe­ty of the tourists in case of any dan­gers. They also help in the track­ing of these pri­mates in the jun­gles. Locat­ing the moun­tain goril­las can take an aver­age of 4 to 6 hours depend­ing on how far the moun­tain goril­las would have shift­ed from a pre­vi­ous nest. Some­times after con­tact with these awe­some crea­tures has been made, inter­ac­tion by tourists with them could go on for over 4 hours. The tourists are able to take pho­tos, view the phys­i­cal attrib­ut­es of the moun­tain goril­las, and also study their rela­tions. In Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble Nation­al Park, the goril­la habit­u­a­tion is gen­er­al­ly done in the Rusha­ga sector.

How goril­la habit­u­a­tion is done?

Moun­tain Goril­las are nat­u­ral­ly born to live in the wilder­ness. The envi­ron­ment in the forest­ed jun­gles intro­duce them to all sorts of crea­tures and fac­tors that would make them timid and often aggres­sive when they come into con­tact with humans. Pri­ma­tol­ogy researchers over the years sought to intro­duce the moun­tain goril­las to clos­er con­tact to humans and thus intro­duced the moun­tain goril­la habituation.

Habit­u­a­tion is sim­ply the process through which the moun­tain goril­las are intro­duced to human pres­ence and made more human friend­ly. This process can take numer­ous stud­ies over a con­sid­er­ably longer peri­od of time. It usu­al­ly takes between 2 to 5 years until the moun­tain goril­la that’s sub­ject of this process can be declared a suc­cess­ful grad­u­ate. How­ev­er, depend­ing on the moun­tain goril­la, the process may even take longer dura­tions until the moun­tain goril­la can be declared human friendly.

Some­times the process fails on some moun­tain goril­las, but those are rare cas­es. Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble Nation­al Park has such habit­u­at­ed moun­tain goril­las that tourists can vis­it and have inter­ac­tion with.

Dif­fer­ence between Goril­la habit­u­a­tion and Goril­la trekking.

The stan­dard dif­fer­ence between the two is the dura­tion tak­en to inter­act with the moun­tain goril­las. Moun­tain goril­la trekking involves hik­ing of Bwin­di For­est where the tourist spends a max­i­mum of an hour on con­tact with the pri­mates. In con­trast, moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion can have close con­tact with the moun­tain goril­las for a dura­tion of over 4 hours.

Pric­ing is anoth­er dif­fer­ence. As it turns out, moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion costs more than an ordi­nary moun­tain goril­la trekking per­mit. While moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion costs $1,500, moun­tain goril­la trekking costs $700.

Num­ber of moun­tain goril­las avail­able for view­ing. Tourists are able to view more moun­tain goril­las while on moun­tain goril­la trekking than dur­ing the moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion. The greater advan­tage of moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion over the trekking is that the tourists don’t need to rush and there­fore have bet­ter view and study of the moun­tain gorillas.

How much does it cost.

Moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion is prici­er when com­pared to moun­tain goril­la trekking. The habit­u­a­tion expe­ri­ence costs $1,500 per person.

Best time to do it.

Where­as the moun­tain goril­la habit­u­a­tion can be done through­out the year, tourists are advised to look out for the dry sea­sons. For Bwin­di, these run from the months June to August, and Decem­ber to Feb­ru­ary. How­ev­er, this isn’t a guar­an­tee that they wouldn’t face any weath­er changes specif­i­cal­ly rain­fall. Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble For­est is a rain­for­est and locat­ed in the Virun­ga region that reg­is­ters high amounts of rain­fall totals annually.

The remain­ing sea­sons receive heavy rain­falls which may also be good for pho­tog­ra­phy as the rains clear the forest’s air from dust. The mist that fol­lows the rains with­in the jun­gles is spec­tac­u­lar as the tourists take an aer­i­al view from the for­est lodges on the high­er alti­tudes of the park. There­fore, tourists should beware to car­ry with them suit­able rain weath­er wear just in case the unex­pect­ed happens.

What to pack?

Light­weight back­pack, water­proof hik­ing boots, reusable water bot­tle, hat, goggles/sunglasses, water­proof jack­et, breath­able hik­ing trousers, insect repel­lent, snacks, binoc­u­lars, after-sun, cam­era, sun cream, and long-sleeved shirts

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