Uganda Travel News

There more differences than similarities when it comes to gorilla habituation experience and normal one hour gorilla trekking. Let’s show you how these to compare in terms of price, experience, duration, how to book and chances of seeing gorillas in either option. While these two popular tourist activities involve visiting mountain gorillas, we need to break down for you instances where they differs to assist you make proper decisions before including any of the above in your safari to Africa.

Gorilla habituation experience, history and definition

Gorilla habituation is a process by man to train mountain gorillas so as they get used to the presence of human beings. A team composed of experts in gorilla habituation, primatologists, researchers and staff of respective national parks where mountain gorillas live may take up to three years visiting a selected mountain gorilla family while teaching them one thing at ago until they are ready to be visited by tourists. Some wild mountain gorilla families may take long to get used to people while others may be very fast to adapt to the presence of human beings.

History of gorilla habituation experience safari, tours and holidays.

It’s now been 4 years when gorilla habituation experience was introduced as a tourist activity in Bwindi impenetrable National Park.  In 2014, management of Bwindi impenetrable National Park introduced a 4 hour gorilla trek in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable National Park where a maximum of 4 people were allowed to visit a gorilla family under habituation. Encounter Africa safaris was one of the first tour companies to lead escorted gorilla habituation tours to Nkuringo and Rushaga. Since 2014 until now in 2020, Encounter Africa safaris has continued to excel in organizing exciting four hour gorilla treks as below

Top 2020-21 Gorilla habituation experience safaris with guaranteed permits.

3 Day gorilla habituation experience safari

3 Day Bwindi gorilla habituation experience from Kigali

5 Day gorilla habituation and chimp trekking safari

5 Day gorilla and chimpanzee habituation experience

For Tailor made safaris, please click here.

How different is gorilla habituation experience from normal gorilla trek

Gorilla habituation experience is the newest product having been introduced in 2014 in Uganda. The government of Uganda through Uganda Wildlife Authority saw it wise to provide an option that would allow people to spend more time with mountain gorillas. Since then, Encounter Africa safaris has lead hundreds of tours to Bwindi. In this experience, one visits a gorilla family still under habituation (not yet fully habituated) and spend four hours getting involved in activities such as naming, making calls, collecting and testing stool, listening to informative talks from the experts, learning more about the behaviors of mountain gorillas. Such behaviors such as when these gorillas are angry, happy and tired of seeing people around them. Contact us for a more detailed discussion.

How many people can visit a gorilla habituation family?

A maximum of four people are allowed to visit a given gorilla family per day. The number is limited to 4 people to minimize on the impacts likely to be caused by people on these gorillas which are semi-habituated. This means that 4 permits are available daily, 120 monthly and 1440 permits in a whole year. Those who wish to do gorilla habituation experience in 2020-21 onwards should contact Encounter Africa safaris in advance to enable us check availability, reserve and book your permit. Encounter Africa safaris does not charge any fee to book gorilla habituation permits as long as you book an all inclusive tour with us. Contact us for more details.

What is the cost of a gorilla habituation experience permit?

To see and spend four hours with mountain gorillas under habituation costs $1500 per person (Foreign non residents) $1000 (Foreign residents with a working passport) and Shs750,000 for East Africans citizens. This makes it more expensive compared to normal gorilla trekking permit in Uganda which is $700 starting 1st July. This fee includes up to 4 hours with mountain gorillas, forest trek with experts in gorilla habituation, park entry fees for Bwindi, security and a certificate at the end of the trek. The fee does not include accommodation, meals and transport to and from Bwindi impenetrable National Park.

Justification for the $1500 gorilla habituation permit price

One has to have strong reasons to part with $1500 to visit mountain gorillas instead of for example paying only $700 per gorilla permit in Uganda. There two reasons why one should consider paying $1500 or $1000 for habituation. The first reason is that gorilla habituation excursions will save you time since you will view gorillas for four hours in one day. This is not possible with the normal gorilla trek permit which allows you only one hour meaning that to achieve four hours, you need 4 days. This gives you a reason to go for gorilla habituation safaris.

The second reason is gorilla habituation experience is cheaper than normal gorilla trek in a sense that one has to spend $2800 (for 4 normal gorilla permits) to spend 4 hours with gorillas. If for one reason or the other you feel that you need to spend more time with mountain gorillas, gorilla habituation permit at $1500 will be best for you and you will save $1300. Just do the math and you will get a justification as to why you should go for gorilla habituation safaris.

Chances of see gorillas on a habituation experience safari

Truth be told, chances of seeing mountain gorillas which are not yet fully used to the presence of human beings. This is because of the fact that you will never tell the behavior and movement of these creatures on any given day. Chances of seeing gorillas with this arrangement cannot reach the 98% for the normal trek. That notwithstanding, we have registered 100% success of all our habituation safaris we have conducted. The only challenge people meet is that the hikes can be slightly strenuous due to the fact that these are wild animals who will try to avoid humans at all costs. The benefit here is that you will practically and hands on participate in all activities of the day besides seeing and photographing.

Which National Park for gorilla habituation experience?

There 4 National Parks where mountain gorillas live but its only in Bwindi impenetrable National Park where gorilla habituation safaris can be booked. In Bwindi still, its only in the southern part of the park that can accommodate people interested in this 4 hour gorilla trekking experience. The southern part of Bwindi is composed of Rushaga and Nkuringo regions in Kisoro district. Gorilla habituation experience is now impossible in Volcanoes National Park as well as Mgahinga National Park due to the fact that all gorilla families in the mentioned national parks are all habituated and none left. So the country and National Park to do gorilla habituation experience is Uganda and Bwindi impenetrable respectively. Let Encounter Africa safaris take you there.

How many families/groups are available for gorilla habituation safaris

At the moment, Uganda and Bwindi impenetrable national Park has only two mountain gorilla groups eligible for gorilla habituation experience. These two are resident in the southern sector of the forest. Each gorilla group can be visited by 4 people which means that 8 gorilla permits are available daily, 240 monthly, and 2880 yearly. It is hoped that as the number of gorillas and groups increase, more families are likely to be introduced in other regions like Ruhija in the East and Buhoma in the north.

Frequently asked Questions about gorilla habituation experience

Encounter Africa safaris is always ahead of others when it comes to providing timely and relevant answers to gorilla trekking and habituation in Uganda. For more information about this 4 our gorilla trek and packages that are available for you, feel free to send us an email here and we will gladly respond to you as soon as we receive it.

Normal one hour gorilla trekking, definition and history

Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves hiking in the wild/forest in search for given habituated gorilla families. This activity normally starts at 8:30am with briefing followed by a trek in the forest to look for these gorillas that have been habituated and can welcome or allow people to visit them. This activity can take from 30 minutes to three quarters of the day depending on the movement of these animals and the physical fitness of the trekkers. Gorilla trekking is a fully guided excursion by a trained ranger guide, he is assisted by other armed rangers to provide security and guidance while in the forest.

The trek starts from the park head quarters following a given trail to the first point where these gorillas would have spent a night. At this place, you will find nests made by a given family before following them to where they will be. Normally these gorillas leave behind a pass and it is easy to follow it and find them. Once these gorillas are cited, you will be allowed to spend one hour. You will use this hour to take photographs, observing their behavior and asking any question that you may have. While with mountain gorillas, please follow set rules and regulations set by UWA

After the given hour, you will trek back to the park headquarters normally using a short path or trail. At the Park headquarters, you will be awarded with a certificate which acts as proof that you participated in gorilla trekking and conservation efforts. If you prefer another trek the next day, please make sure to contact Encounter Africa safaris so we book your permits in advance.

History of gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo

You cannot talk about the history of gorilla trekking and you forget the history of Diane Fossel.  Gorilla habituation and trekking was one of the efforts spearheaded by this great primatologist who spend a lot of time in Rwanda and the virunga region. Because of this gorilla trekking started in Rwanda and spread to other countries.

In Uganda, gorilla trekking started in 1993 when the first fully habituated gorilla family was opened up in Buhoma located in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable National Park. The name of the first gorilla family is Mubale group. Up to now, Mubare gorilla family is still popular to those that want to visit the oldest gorilla group to be habituated. Ever since, this family has changed in numbers most especially after the death of Ruhondeza the main silverback. Numbers in this group reduced drastically only to improve at a later stage when the new silverback raided other families to recruit new members.

How to book gorilla permits/tours in Uganda and Rwanda

For one to be guaranteed of seeing gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, it will all start with securing a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit is a document/card issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and RDB I  Rwanda that allows one to spend one hour with a habituated family of gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. Democratic republic of Congo has mountain gorillas which can also be visited.

Booking gorilla permits starts with you contacting Encounter Africa safaris with dates. We then processed to check availability and if possible reserve them. Upon paying, we will go ahead to pay for your gorilla permit and then organize a tour around your gorilla permit dates. See some of our most requested gorilla tours with guaranteed gorilla permits.

How long will I stay with mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda allows you to spend one hour with a given group of habituated mountain gorillas. You are allowed to take photos and simple videos following set rules and regulations by respective bodies in Uganda and Rwanda. Please note that while seeing gorillas is restricted to one hour, the overall trek may take from 30mins to three quarters of the day. If you want to see gorillas beyond that, you will need a gorilla permit which should be booked in advance. You cannot see or track gorillas twice on the same day. You will have to wait for the next day to undertake your desired second or 3rd trek in Uganda.

How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda and Rwanda

The price of gorilla permits keep changing most especially after two years. Currently (2020-21) the price of Rwanda gorilla permits to see gorillas for one hour is $1500 per person while that of Uganda is at $700 per person starting 1st July 2020. Take advantage of lowered price at $600 if you book your gorilla tour with Encounter Africa safaris before 30th June 2020.  Rwanda is much more expensive than Uganda simply because they want to position themselves are a luxury destination. If you are looking for something more affordable, then Uganda provides the best option.

Whichever country you choose, the price of gorilla permit includes one hour with mountain gorillas, services of a ranger guide, security and a certificate which will be rewarded to you at the end of the trek.

How many gorilla families are habituated in Uganda and Rwanda

The current mountain gorilla census has put Uganda as a country with the highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world. Uganda has more than a half the number about 460 individuals Bwindi and Mgahinga combined. Uganda is also on record by having many habituated mountain gorillas compared to Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. At the moment about 20 habituated mountain gorillas do exist in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga. Bwindi alone has 50 gorilla families living in this forest. On the other hand, Rwanda has 20 gorilla families of which 10 are for gorilla trekking and other 10 for research.

What are the chances of seeing gorillas on any trek in Rwanda or Uganda

In both countries of Uganda and Rwanda, chances of seeing mountain gorillas are higher than that on any gorilla habituation experience safari. According to our experience, chances of seeing gorillas on any normal trek in Uganda or Rwanda is 98%. This is dependent on the exercise of gorilla trekking in both countries is highly organized. An advance team normally traces these gorillas and then directs the rest to where they will be. If one fails to see gorillas, terms and conditions will apply.

More information about gorilla habituation experience and gorilla trekking, don’t hesitate to contact Encounter Africa safaris. At Encounter Africa Safaris, we mustered the art of organizing amazing gorilla tours to Uganda and Rwanda that match the interests, time and budget of our clients.








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