He detangles soft branches intertwined to block your path while simultaneously holding up a hanging branch to make way for you. You attempt to tread quietly, stealthily but you cannot help the speed in each step after you have caught a glimpse them. A black furry gorilla climbs up some branches to pick leaves; another is rolling left-right, left-right in a merry rhythm, there’s a mother gorilla lying on a bed of leaves; two of her young ones take turns attempting to climb her back. The one you saw climbing up has since set foot on the soft foliage floor of the forest. He pauses, signaling his discomfort by how close you are to him. You hold your breath and thank goodness for the long sleeves you wore; they are the only shield between you and the stinging nettle you obliviously walked into while following your gaze.
The habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gives you more than a glimpse. It calls for strength to hike through the thick foliage, the self-control to keep your hands away from these soulful creatures and the opportunity to hike, appreciate every shrub, tree and bird, insect and finally the Gorillas once you have set your eyes upon them. It comes with exclusivity to allow you enjoy the sight of these mystical creatures and avails maximum viewing time as opposed to that permitted for Gorilla trekking Uganda safari.
Bwindi impenetrable forest is the only park in Uganda that offers the Gorilla Habituation Experience. It is home to 11 habituated families that include; Mubare, Busingye, Habiyanja, Rushagura, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro, Nshonji, Mishaya, Bweza, Kahungye and Nkuringo. While these families are in different locations of Bwindi, Gorilla Habituation only takes place in Rushaga-Nkuringo area South of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. The two families available for visiting are the Bushaho and Bukingi Group which they are trying to habituate.
If you have been gorilla trekking, you know you are entitled to one hour around the gorillas whose presence may not even be assured. The Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi is a whole different story. The process of habituation has since 1991 helped the Gorillas become familiar and comfortable around humans. The rewards of this process allow you to spend a maximum of 4 hours with in a given family of Gorillas at a time beating the 1 hour exposure allowed for gorilla trekking. As the researchers from Uganda Wildlife Authority guide you through the experience, you will observe them as they go about their daily duties around the Gorillas; monitoring and recording their behaviour. The experience also comes with the opportunity to learn about the naming of the Gorillas. The proximity with these beautiful animals gives you a chance to take the best and as many photos with them as long as your camera flash is kept off to avoid startling them.
The rules for Gorilla Habituation are pretty much similar to those of Gorilla trekking with a few exceptions such as the number of visitors per group. Your day will start at the park Headquarters where you will be briefed about more rules regarding habituation but we’ll consider a few here. The maximum number of people per visiting group is 4 members. This means booking at least 6 months in advance for a slot is a wise decision. Restrain yourself from the urge of touching the Gorillas as they could easily get startled and charge at you. Ensure you are in good health because the Gorillas can easily catch a cold if you have one. While Uganda is suitable for tourism all year round, the best time for you to visit would be December to late February and from June to September because these are the dry seasons in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest waits to sate your adventurous thirst with the best way to view Gorillas in Uganda.