Gorilla Habituation Safari

A rare opportunity to spend a full day in the company of conservationists and researchers tracking and habituating gorilla families.

Itinerary Summary

Duration
8 Days
Price
£6495
When
Year Round
Destination
Uganda
Type
Small Group Safari
Duration Price When Destination Type
8 Days £6495 Year Round Uganda Small Group Safari
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About this trip

Introduced in 2015 and available for a very limited duration of only 2-3 years is the gorilla habituation experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In order to become habituated to the presence of tourists, each gorilla group has undergone an extremely delicate process, lasting around five years, gradually getting accustomed to the presence of humans. Park rangers start off by spending a short period of time with the gorillas every day, at a certain distance that represents the limit of the gorillas’ comfort zone. As the years go by, they gradually increase the time and reduce the distance until they deem the gorillas ready for paying clients to visit them. The gorilla habituation experience for the first time allows paying clients to participate in this process. It is limited to two gorilla families in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Bukingyi and Bushaho, in the Rushaga sector of the park. Due to the steep terrain, dense vegetation and high altitudes a high level of fitness is required.

 

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Trek not once, but twice to see the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
  • Undertake the unique experience of gorilla habituation in the southern sector of the park.
  • Spend a day on a guided forest walk from southern to northern Bwindi, an incredible way to feel at one with your surroundings and spot the smaller elements of this forest ecosystem.

Embedded Video Overview

An intensive gorilla tracking safari in Uganda -
from $8,281 per person including one full day gorilla habituation experience, excluding gorilla permits and international flights.

Day by day

Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Entebbe- Karibu Guest House

On your arrival into Entebbe you will be met and transferred to Karibu Guest House. Please note that Entebbe Airport is currently undergoing expansion and it can seem a little chaotic and make it harder for you and your guide to meet. You will need to exit the arrivals area after you pass through immigration and make your way to the courtyard where you will see some canopy tents; your guide will be waiting here, holding a sign with your name on. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing, or if you prefer, you can arrange with your guide to go out and explore some of the highlights of Entebbe.

Overnight accommodation: Karibu Guest House

(D)

Day 2

Entebbe - Bwindi Forest National Park

This morning you will be collected from Karibu Guest House and Kisoro Airstrip. You will be met on arrival and driven the 1 hour transfer to Clouds Lodge. Upon arrival you will be introduced to the lodge and shown to your room. This afternoon you will have a chance to relax, admire the views over the surrounding area and prepare for your gorilla habituation experience in the morning.

Overnight: Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3

Gorilla Habituation

Early departure from the lodge for a full day gorilla habituation experience. You will hike to the spot where the gorilla family was last seen the previous day. All tracker guides are experienced in looking for signs of the gorillas’ location, for example, footprints, dung, chewed bamboo and celery stalks, as well as abandoned nests. Gorillas soil their nests and then abandon them to build new ones each night, and trackers are able to tell the age of the nests as well as which group made them – though this is more difficult on rainy days. If your trek to find the gorillas has not been unusually long, you are likely to reach their location during their long midday rest and play period. At this time of day, the dominant male (usually a silverback) generally lounges on the ground or against a tree while youngsters roll in the vegetation and climb on trees, vines, and each other. Females nurse and play with their infants. Your tracking group will be instructed to stay together and crouch down whilst observing the gorillas. This is so the dominant male can see you at all times and the family does not feel threatened, surrounded, or overwhelmed. After spending most of the day with the researchers return to your lodge in the afternoon. A high level of fitness is required to take part in what will be a challenging day of trekking.

Overnight: Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 4

Day at leisure at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Today you will be able to relax after your time with the gorillas yesterday. The lodge itself is a wonderful place to rejuvenate with amazing views and a range of spa treatments on offer. You can also explore the local community on a guided walk with visits to the local blacksmith and traditional healer, take a walk through Buniga Forest to meet the Batwa pygmy or take a day trip to Lake Mutanda for a canoe excursion. Please speak to your Destination Specialist for up to date pricing on these experiences.

Overnight: Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 5

Bwindi Forest Ivy Trail Walk

Today will begin with you being transported approximately 35 minutes to Nteko village from where you will commence your 4-5 hour forest walk through Bwindi Forest to Buhoma in northern Bwindi. You will be accompanied by your naturalist guide who will help to pick out some of the elusive wildlife that can be found within this fascinating area of the forest. There will be primates and birds to see along the way and this is also the perfect way to experience raw Uganda and feel really at one with the natural world. A driver will transport your luggage from Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge to Bwindi Lodge and it will be there when you arrive. Relax at the lodge before preparing for your gorilla trek tomorrow.

Overnight: Bwindi Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 6

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Today you set off on your gorilla tracking expedition. You will be briefed at the headquarters before setting off into the forests (please note you may have to be driven to the trail head depending on which gorilla family is allocated to you). The mountain gorillas in Bwindi are part of a worldwide population of just 700. The gorillas we are allowed to track belong to one of three habituated family groups. The time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as half an hour to as much as 8 hours. Once the gorillas are located, the group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. This is one of the world's truly memorable experiences - a look into one of these magnificent creatures' eyes brings home the bond that exists between them and us. Tracking the mountain gorillas is an awe-inspiring experience and as you come across them in their forest surroundings all thought of fatigue disappears! The hour is often over all too quickly, and you slowly make your way back to the lodge.

Overnight: Bwindi Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 7

Second Gorilla Tracking Experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Optional)

Your second day of gorilla tracking. A fantastic experience and one that we recommend you make the most of. Ideally try and spend as little time today behind the lens of your camera as possible so you can fully appreciate this once in a lifetime experience. Alternatively, you can spend today relaxing around the lodge and exploring Buhoma town and visiting one of the many community projects. This evening relax back at your lodge and reminisce on the adventures of the last few days.

Overnight: Bwindi Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 8

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - Entebbe

Today, at a time to be advised locally, you will be transferred to the airstrip for your light aircraft flight back to Entebbe. On arrival you will be assisted to your onward international flight.

(B)

Trip Details

Gorilla habituation is a year-round activity, whatever the weather. The experience commences every morning from the park headquarters at 6:00am, and lasts until 6:00pm, or until the client is exhausted enough to want to return back to base. Once the gorillas are located, your group will be allowed to spend the entire day with them, a truly rare opportunity.

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on our small group safaris in Uganda.

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