GORILLA TRACKING Vs GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE- Understanding the difference
Mountain gorillas are a prime product in Uganda’s tourism attraction and it is one of the biggest experiences every visitor to Africa can ever have on a safari.
Over 1000 individuals exist individuals exist in the world and only in 3 countries in the Albertine Rift valley of D.R. Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Tourism development in the East African region has played a very influential role in the rise of the numbers of these primates through the gorilla tracking activity. Travellers pay 1500USD in Rwanda, 400 USD IN D.R. Congo and 700USD in Uganda to engage and encounter these gentle giants in the Rain Forests where they call home. It is this revenue that has facilitated the conservation of the endangered species.
However in Uganda, there is an activity that offers more than gorilla tracking and this is gorilla habituation. This is the process of getting wild gorillas used too human presence. This activity takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable national park which hosts half of the individuals that remain.
The two experiences are all magical and we can’t choose to say one is better than the other but we can explain the differences between the two.
- The cost.
Gorilla habituation is expensive (1500 USD) which is 800 USD more than the normal price of gorilla tracking. This always makes if much over the budget of most travellers who would want to also engage in the activity.
- Participation in the activities.
Gorilla habituation gives an advantage of actively engaging the process. You help the researchers, doctors and trackers in the activity which means you can get any closer to the gorillas. While, for gorilla tracking you keep an 8 meter distance from the gorillas but of course one cannot control them as they at times move even very close to visitors. And only 4 people are allowed to visit a group that is undergoing habituation, this means 4 permits are available daily whereas for gorilla tracking 8 people visit a group daily and 152 permits are available daily.
- Time spent with the gorillas
A normal gorilla tracking activity, you are allowed 1 hour with the gorillas after locating the group you are tracking. An hour for photography, observing and asking questions. For the sake of gorilla habituation it is 4 times the normal tracking time. Never the less, whether 1 hour or 4 hours with these giants it will never be enough.
- Nature of the Groups/Families.
With gorilla tracking, you meet a group of gorillas that is used to human presence. The groups are almost seen every day. On the other hand, gorilla habituation the visitors are among the first people to meet the group. You actually meet a wild gorilla group.
We know most of the travellers would definitely choose to spend 4 hours with gorilla than the normal 1 hour. The cost, number of permits available daily may make the activity elusive but we are sure after the experience you can never regret your engagement.