How different is gorilla tracking from gorilla habituation, this is one of the thoughtful questions that any visitor would ask and preferably ask before deciding on which experience. Gorilla trekking and habituation experiences are conducted in the Rushaga sector of Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation in Uganda. In this sector, two gorilla families are undergoing habituation, while the remaining groups are open for trekking by visitors.
Gorilla trekking drives way back in 1993 when the first visitors maneuvered to the thick forest of Bwindi and sported the first habituated gorilla family known as Mubare in Buhoma located in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This followed the previous works of the renowned philanthropist DR. Diana Fossey who led to the invention of gorilla habituation and trekking in the Virunga ranges in Rwanda and Congo. However much gorilla trekking existed the wind of change came in 2015 when the gorilla habituation process began in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga sector introduced by the Uganda Wildlife Authority for specific visitors who would love to spend much more time compared to trekking time with primates in the jungle.
Gorilla trekking and habituation experiences in both Uganda and Rwanda adhere to specific standards regarding the number of visitors per gorilla family. Gorilla trekking allows up to 8 visitors per trek, while habituation experience limits visitors to 4.
Gorilla tracking and habituation experiences both start at 7:30 a.m. with a briefing at the park headquarters, followed by a search for the primates. The search duration can range from 30 minutes to a full day. However, the time spent with the gorillas differs. In gorilla tracking, visitors spend one hour with the allocated gorilla family before returning to the headquarters. In gorilla habituation, visitors have a four-hour to whole-day experience with semi-habituated mountain gorillas in Bwindi. Those doing habituation must be accompanied by trained researchers due to the gorillas’ learning process, which may lead to behaviors that could potentially scare humans. In trekking, a knowledgeable guide is sufficient for the process.
As mentioned above, both experiences differ in the amount of time spent with primates in the jungle, as well as the cost. A Gorilla trekking permit costs a tune of $600 ($700 starting July 2020) and a gorilla habituation experience costs $1500 which is equivalent to a gorilla trekking permit cost in Rwanda.
To acquire permits for gorilla tracking or habituation, contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) directly or a trusted tour operator. Book your permit early to avoid missing out on your desired date.
Gorilla trekking takes place in two Afro-montane areas: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in southwestern Uganda, as well as Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo. Bwindi has four gorilla trekking sectors: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Mgahinga National Park has one sector, which is home to the Nyakagezi family. All the mentioned sectors are open for visitors to undertake gorilla trekking experience all year round however it is only the Rushaga sector where gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience take place at the same time and only two gorilla families are under habituation.
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