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