Contents of our Guide

  1. Habituating the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda
  2. Gorilla Trekking Vs Gorilla Habituation
  3. A Typical Day Gorilla Trekking 
  4. What to Pack 
  5. Where to Stay 
  6. When to Go 
  7. How to get there
  8. Discover More About the Gorilla Experience in Uganda. 
  9. Gorilla Habituation FAQs
Gorilla Habituation Experience

Habituating the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda

Uganda is home to approximately half of the endangered mountain gorilla population, and Gorilla trekking in Uganda allows you to spend one invaluable hour with them in their natural habitat.

This has been made possible by gently introducing mountain gorillas over 2-5 years to the sight and presence of humans, which is incredibly important for research, care and conservation purposes.

For those wishing to take a more active role, in the protection and understanding of these gentle giants, can join the rangers and conservationists as they slowly habituate two more gorilla families in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

If you choose this experience can spend up to 4 magical hours with these highly intelligent and emotional gentle giants. 

It is an incredibly humbling experience knowing that you are some of the first people to meet these gorillas and play an extremely important role in their conservation. 

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Gorilla Trekking vs Gorilla Habituation Experience

A standard gorilla trek in Uganda involves hiking through dense forests in search of habituated gorilla families, and then spending up to an hour observing the group.

By contrast, the gorilla habituation experience involves spending four hours with a group of gorillas and is only available in the Rushaga sector in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

A standard gorilla trekking permit costs $700, while the gorilla habituation experience costs $1,500.

The gorillas observed in the habituation experience are less used to humans than those seen on the standard gorilla treks (they are still being ‘habituated’). The experience is still completely safe, and the benefit of spending more time with gorillas is that you can better understand their behaviours and social dynamics, as well as get incredible photographs, without being rushed.

Gorilla Habituation Experience
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A Typical Day on a Gorilla Habituation Trek

The first part of any gorilla excursion in Uganda is a (sometimes lengthy) trek into the forest with an expert team of guides and scouts, looking for tracks left by the gorillas.

The strongest clue that you're near a group is finding the gorilla's 'nest' from the previous night. It can take up to 6 hours or more to locate a gorilla family. 

Once contact is made, you can spend up to 4 hours with the gorillas. A habituation experience gives you an insight into the lives of these amazing animals that few get to experience, but for us humans with short attention spans, 4 hours can be a long time, so you'll want to be sure the habituation experience is right for you.

As you observe the animals up close, interacting with each other in their small familial groups, you'll start to draw parallels between the gorillas and us - the similarities are often striking, and humbling.

It's a full day affair, and returning to the lodge for dinner and a warm shower/bath will be much needed and well deserved!

Gorilla Habituation Experience

When is the best time to go?

The gorilla habituation experience can be done year-round. Temperatures in Bwindi hover between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The dry seasons, from June to August and again from December to February, are the best time to visit - but you should be prepared for showers at any time of year.

The months of March to May typically see the most rains in Bwindi, so where possible you should avoid these months,

Conversely, seeing the gorillas during the wet season offers some advantages for photographers. The rain clears the air of dust, allowing clearer photos to be taken than would otherwise be the case - the rain and mists also create a certain moody, wilderness look and feel of the national park - particularly compelling from your lodge veranda!

What to Pack

  • Waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support and grip (to avoid any nasty blisters, ensure you have good walking socks and have worn them in before you depart). 
  • Light, breathable, waterproof jackets and trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. (wearing long sleeves and trousers will protect you from insect bites and keep you warm if the weather turns).
  • Hat and sunglasses. 
  • A lightweight backpack, with enough room for lunch, reusable water bottle, extra layers, snacks and some essential toiletries like sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream and lip balm.
  • Binoculars, so you can spot other wildlife such as birds and monkeys from a distance.
  • Camera with spare batteries and waterproof covering. 
Gorilla Habituation Experience

Where to stay

There are some fantastic accommodation options close to Bwindi national park, where you can enjoy fabulous views of the mountains and the authentic experience of staying in locally-run lodges with traditional architecture.

On the more luxurious end of the spectrum, you have Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, which blends high-end modern amenities with elegant yet unshowy wood and stone architecture, and Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, which is a ‘glamping’ resort. Some less luxurious, but cheaper and still very good options, are Buhoma Lodge, and Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge

Gorilla Habituation Experience

How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi national park is in southwest Uganda, and is fairly accessible by road or by air. After arriving in Entebbe International Airport in central Uganda, you can take a second flight to either Kisoro or Kihihi airstrips, both of which are located close to Bwindi. The flights run daily and take about 1.5 hours. 

Alternatively, the national park can be reached by car from Entebbe in around 9 hours. Although this is a longer option, it is possible to visit some other wonderful attractions along the way, such as Queen Elizabeth National Park, an excellent safari spot, and Murchison Falls National Park that is cut by the Nile river. 

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Meet The Mountain Gorillas

Gorilla Habituation Experience FAQs

Discover More About Gorillas in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Uganda is home to half the world's Mountain Gorilla population. Seeing these animals up close in their natural habitat is one of the most impressive wildlife encounters in Africa. …

Gorilla Trekking Costs

Gorilla Trekking Costs

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park have excellent gorilla populations, and gorilla permits here are much cheaper than neighbouring Rwanda. 

Uganda Gorilla Permits

Uganda Gorilla Permits

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to an estimated 400 gorillas. To visit them, you’ll need to secure a permit, issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. 

Is Gorilla Trekking Worth It?

Is Gorilla Trekking Worth It?

In the remote, densely-forested national parks of Bwindi Impenetrable and Magahinga in south-western Uganda, a small but stable population of mountain gorillas roam. Getting up …

Is Gorilla Trekking Safe?

Is Gorilla Trekking Safe?

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa. The experience would not be as popular if there weren't stringent safety precautions in place, and the…

Is Gorilla Trekking Ethical?

Is Gorilla Trekking Ethical?

The Uganda Wildlife Authority and local stakeholders have developed comprehensive conservation initiatives and implemented protocols to ensure all visits to the gorillas are …

How difficult is gorilla trekking?

How difficult is gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking is one of the best wildlife experiences in Uganda. Tracking down these primates in their natural habitat means trekking through dense forest, possibly through …

Best Time to Visit the Gorillas in Uganda

Best Time to Visit the Gorillas in Uganda

The best time to visit the gorillas in Uganda is from June to August, and again from December to February. These are the driest months in Uganda which makes trekking much easier, …

Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Families

Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Families

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 19 habituated gorilla families, and over half of the world's wild gorilla population. 

Thinking about visiting Uganda?

Get in touch and we can help you understand your options, design an itinerary that's right for you, and then get you set up and ready to go. 

+1 315 636-4279