The habituation experience of these two primates is a two year process that involves familiarizing gorillas to human beings. Gorilla habituation is a process where wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to people. Gorilla Habituation may take between two to three years to be completed and during this time, researchers keep on visiting an identified of a wild gorilla group on a daily basis. They get to learn more about individual gorillas and the way they behave. Gorilla habituation experience is a new product launched in 2015 and can only be done in the southern part of Bwindi Forest in a region known as Rushaga area.
With time, these gorillas get used to these researchers and in the long run, each individual gorilla is given a name. Once researchers are sure that these mountain gorillas can be trekked, they then introduce a mock exercise where some few people who may include scientists, journalists start visiting it. Once such a gorilla family has passed mock exercise, then it is opened for gorilla trekking tours.
Gorilla Habituation and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is an ideal safari to Africa for travelers who would love a deeper than ordinary experience with the rare mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees. The habituation Experience is an incredible usual combination of truly once in a lifetime experience that feature scientific researchers led up close wildlife interactions for chimps and gorillas. Chimpanzee and Gorillas being habituated is not an experience you get anywhere, it only happens here in Uganda.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience is only offered in Uganda and only available in Rushaga area. Rushaga area is one of the areas where Uganda wild Authority and researchers have habituated gorilla groups for trekking and habituation experience. This southern part of Bwindi Forest boosts the highest number of habituated gorilla groups including Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Bweza and Busingye compared to others that have an average of one to three families. It is in Rushaga that permits never run out of stock because it has a number of gorilla groups but still you to book you gorilla permit in advance.
There are two gorilla groups that being habituated in Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, that is Bushaho and Bikingi. You can be part of that Gorilla Habituation program for this process when you choose to go on a Uganda Safari. Under this process, both groups can be tracked and you can spend 4 hours with a gorilla family. The gorilla habituation permit costs $ 1500 USD per person instead of a normal permit of $ 600 USD for a normal permit.
If you’re planning to come to Uganda for a gorilla safari, you can trek mountain gorillas in two national parks i.e. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. You can presently trek 15 habituated mountain gorilla groups in these two national parks making it a maximum 8 people per gorilla family to spend a maximum of only one hour per visit. Gorillas keep on moving to new places every day and never stay in one place twice. So there is nothing like closest or furthest gorilla family, the trek terrain may be difficult and strenuous but the time taken is unpredictable.
It is also very important to know the area to trek gorillas, they are four areas within Bwindi forest and these areas correspond to gorilla families. So booking is currently done per area and not for a gorilla group.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) is increasingly becoming a popular tourist activity an alternative to chimpanzee tracking in Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park the best place in East Africa to do this activity. This activity entails following up of chimpanzees so that they get used to humanity without them being wild. It entails getting the chimpanzees to the presence of humans to remove the fear of humans from the group. It is a process that takes up to two years and today you are part of that process by your all day presence in the forest. Years ago, it used to be that you had a 20% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the wild, today because of the habituation process that has increased to over 96%. It is one thing to spend an hour with the chimpanzees of Uganda and it’s another experience to be with them all day long in Kibale Forest National Park.
The chimpanzee Habituation Experience starts early in the in the dark at 6.30am with early breakfast and packed lunch and your with an armed guide, researchers and trackers escorting your small group into the jungle. It can be a little challenging avoiding tree roots along a mostly flat path so bring a torch, hiking boots, long shirts and trousers, insect repellent, a hut and gloves. Chimps come down from the trees for playtime. It is fantastic to watch them as they ran around playing. Their movements are unpredictable whether it’s up hill, downhill or on even ground, you follow the agile group, sometimes at challenging speeds through dense vegetation, for rare, up-close encounters.
Your camera will fill up with many quality photos and videos of chimpanzees and you will get to learn to identify them as individual by their marking, sometimes scars and other unique features that make them stand apart from the rest. The day ends as the chimps climb into their newly built nests for the evening and you head back to your lodging.
A maximum of 4 people are allowed per trek and 4 hours get you closer to the chimps than during the chimp tracking in larger groups. The habituation permit costs USD $220 per person per day. The chimpanzee habituation experience is an all year round activity but best in the months of March, April, May and November when there are less tourist congestion.