Comparing gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation in Bwindi
Comparing gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation in Bwindi: Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are both interesting activities one would love to do while on a safari in Bwindi gorilla park. Gorilla trekking is done in all sectors is Bwindi which are Nkuringo, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Buhoma while gorilla habituation is only possible in Rushaga and Nkuringo. Before going any further, we would love to tell you that gorilla habituation can only be done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.
Gorilla trekking involves searching for a fully habituated gorilla family and being around it for 1 hour while gorilla habituation involves searching for mountain gorillas and going an extreme mile to familiarize yourself with the wild mountain gorillas to enable them to be around them for 4 hours. In this article, we are going to compare mountain gorilla trekking with gorilla habituation to enable you to get more information before choosing any safari in Bwindi.
Comparing the price
While comparing gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation in Bwindi in terms of price, the price of gorilla trekking is a bit cheaper compared to gorilla habituation. To trek mountain gorillas you need a normal gorilla trekking permit and to habituate gorillas you need a gorilla habituation permit. The price of a gorilla permit is cheap going for only $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX citizens of East Africa. the gorilla habituation permits go for $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 foreign residents, and UGX750,000 citizens of East Africa.
Getting to Bwindi
Gorilla trekking is done by a group of 8 people that are accompanied by two armed ranger guides and gorilla habituation is done by a group of 4 trekkers accompanies by 2 armed ranger guides, conservationists and researchers. Let’s say gorilla trekking has a lot of congestion compared to gorilla habituation.
The time with mountain gorillas
Gorilla trekking permit price comes with only 1 hour around mountain gorillas and trekkers must keep a distance of 7 meters away from the apes while for gorilla habituation, the trekkers are given 4 hours not only to be around mountain gorillas but to be with the apes and make them used to human beings.
The gorilla trekking experience is done to enable travelers to encounter mountain gorillas from a distance but the gorilla habituation experience is done to enable people to encounter mountain gorillas, interact with them and make them get used to human presence around them. The gorilla trekking activity and gorilla habituation activity all take 2-7 hours to meet the mountain gorillas and this depends on the location of the gorilla family as well as the speed of the trekkers.
: There are more gorilla trekking permits in Bwindi compared to gorilla habituation permits. the national park has 19 mountain gorilla families which are trekked by 8 people per group and 2 semi-habituated gorilla families that are trekked by 4 people. The total number of gorilla trekking permits in Bwindi is 152 and the gorilla habituation permits are 8.
In total, there are 21 mountain gorilla families living in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. 2 of these are semi-habituated for habituation purposes and 19 are fully habituated for mountain gorilla trekking activities. All sectors of Bwindi namely Nkuringo, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Buhoma have gorilla families for trekking and only Nkuringo and Rushaga in the southern sector of the park have semi-habituated mountain gorilla families named Bushaho and Bikingi.
The best time to do both gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation is the dry season. This occurs from June to September and December to February. During these months, there is little or no rainfall that keeps the trekking trails passable, vegetation is dry, short, and thin giving clear views of the mountain gorillas, photography is good and the roads leading to the park are in good conditions.
Travelers can still do gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation in the rainy season of March to May and October to November. The season favors budget travelers because during such months the accommodation is at discount to attract the few tourists to the park. The rainy season is however characterized by too much rainfall that affected everything in the park, the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of the mountain gorillas, the trekking trails are muddy and slippery and the roads leading to the park are in poor conditions.
Booking both gorilla habituation permits and gorilla trekking permits can be done directly using the Uganda Wildlife Authority if you are okay with picking up the permits at their offices on arrival or using a local tour operator who can pick them up for you. Booking both gorilla trekking permits and gorilla habituation permits should be done in advance of 3-4 months to avoid inconveniences especially if you are intending to encounter the gorillas in the dry season.
The period the activity was introduced
Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi was introduced in 1993 after successfully habituating Mubare gorilla family which was in Buhoma sector. Gorilla habituation has just been introduced recently in 2-15 in the Rushaga region of Bwindi. The activity was introduced to give trekkers a new experience of spending 4 hours with these apes.
Regions where activities take place
For gorilla trekking, a traveler can visit any of the regions of the park namely Nkuringo, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Ruhija. These regions have 19 mountain gorilla families that are open for trekking at any time of the year. For travelers that would want to spend more time with the mountain gorillas (gorilla habituation), they can only visit Rushaga sector and Nkuringo sector in the southwestern part of the country. There are 2 families in these regions that are open to habituation activities.
What to pack for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation?
In comparing gorilla trekking and habituation in bwindi, pack long-sleeved pants, long-sleeved shirts, waterproof hiking shoes, a pair of gaiters, long cotton stocks, a hat, rain jacket, gardening gloves, light backpack, a pair of binoculars, a camera, insect repellents, sanitizer, facemask, energy-giving snacks and drinking water bottle among others.