Gorilla Habituation Experience. Everything you need to know

Gorilla Habituation Experience: “Isn’t gorilla trekking the same as gorilla habituation”? That is a question that we get asked very often. For anyone who has researched about seeing gorillas in Uganda, these two words have come up again and again. The reason is that Uganda gorilla safaris rely on any of the two.

Let us now quickly look at the difference between gorilla trekking (same as gorilla tracking) and gorilla habituation.

Gorilla habituation is the process of training mountain gorillas to get them used to seeing people. If not habituated, gorillas like any other wild animal, would – to put it lightly, freak out at an encounter with people.

Gorilla trekking (tracking) is the visiting of already-habituated gorilla families. These mountain gorillas are already used to seeing people and won’t get ‘angry’ when they see you.

As you can see, one process precedes the other. Without gorilla habituation, there would be no gorilla tracking.

Going to see a gorilla for habituation requires the same preparation as gorilla tracking. We have linked below to our other articles about preparing for a gorilla tracking safari.

How Gorilla Habituation Is Done

Gorilla habituation starts with only researchers. These researchers are from the Department of Research and Monitoring which is under the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The habituation process takes about 2 to 3 years until the Gorilla family is open to the Public trekking.

The process involves repetitive visits by well-trained trackers and researchers to study the patterns and behaviours of the gorillas. In doing this, the people and gorillas get themselves accustomed to each other.

Gorilla habituation is a long and daily process, constant monitoring and interaction until the gorillas begin to trust and become used to the idea of spending time with humans.

When gorillas are getting along well with the researchers, mock visits are allowed. These mock visits from other people (scientists and journalists help introduce new faces. Depending on how the mock visits go, a gorilla family can be opened up for more visitors – as part of habituation.

The habituation of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda started as far back as 1993. The process is overseen by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Since 2015, gorilla habituation has been operational

Why Do Gorilla Habituation

The process sounds exciting, but what should you choose? Should you do gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation? Let us look at the top reason why habituation might be the option you choose.

The biggest appeal for a gorilla habituation experience is spending more time with gorillas.

How much more time? 4 hours compared to the 1-hour limit on gorilla trekking. An hour with gorillas is mindblowing, 4 hours is just glorious. In the 4 hours when you are with gorillas, you will learn all about their behaviours and individual personalities.

While doing gorilla habituation, you will be in the company of the researchers who are familiar with the gorilla group. The people who started the habituation of that group.

An extra reason for choosing gorilla habituation is the novelty. Being one of the first couple hundred faces that a gorilla learns to trust humans from isn’t bad. It is a great role for conservation, as this supports gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda – a big contributor to the economy and well-being of Uganda.

After completing your gorilla habituation exercise, you are given a certificate for the exercise. More than the certificate, it is how out of this world you feel.

All the gorillas in these areas have been fully and successfully habituated and open for visiting. Uganda Wildlife Authority has selected two areas specifically for the gorilla habituation experience. This is in the Rushaga and Nkuringo region of Bwindi.

Important to note is that only 4 people can visit a gorilla family for the habituation experience. Every Ugandan gorilla habituation permit costs 1500 US Dollars per individual.

There are a few rules and regulations to be followed and I’ll highlight them for you;

  • No using flash photography
  • Endeavour to keep a quiet ambience
  • Stay with your group to avoid getting lost
  • No imitating the Gorillas
  • Ensure perfect health to avoid passing on any diseases
  • Keep at least 7 meters distance away from the gorillas
  • Ensure to listen and follow the guide’s instructions
  • You must be 15 years of age or older to take part

The gorilla habituation experience is very limited. The groups are very limited, and the people allowed are limited as well. This means that if you are interested in gorilla habituation, you will have to book early.

Talk to us about how you would like your gorilla habituation safari to be organised. Your custom itinerary will be made for free.

A gorilla habituation safari follows the same preparation and procedures as a gorilla tracking safari. Here are some links to our other articles – which we know will be helpful to your planning.

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