The opportunity to be in such close proximity and experience gorillas & chimpanzees in the wild, is one of the draw cards for travellers to Uganda. There are fewer than 900 mountain gorillas in existence making the opportunity to learn more about these gentle, mysterious primates first hand and only metres away from you, an even more important education piece on their longevity through conservation.
Instead of the regular Gorilla trekking experience, there is now a new way to experience these primates and make more of a difference to their future. Introducing the Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Wondering what the gorilla habituation experience is all about? In a nutshell, it is training wild gorillas to make them familiar with human presence before they are declared free for trekking. Gorilla training is an everyday venture which is undertaken by rangers, conservationists and gorilla doctors who must visit a gorilla family undergoing training for up to 3 years. As part of this process, travellers have the opportunity to witness and take part in this process. It’s the most intimate way to meet, see, interact face to face and enjoy the human like characters of mountain gorillas, which make them exceptional creatures.
The opportunity to spend roughly half a day (four hours) in the presence of the critically endangered mountain gorillas takes place in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. You must travel to a location called Rushaga as this is the only sector that gorilla training takes place. The gorilla habituation experience is the best way to meet and spend ample time with critically endangered mountain gorillas. This really is a personal experience as a maximum of 4 people per group inclusive of the researchers and guides are permitted to go see the gorilla family. What a privilege.
Travellers are reminded to be extra careful to ensure safety in the presence of wild gorillas and must follow all trekking rules and guidelines like keeping a seven-metre distance, keeping calm and staying within your groups are all highly emphasised. Do not mistake habituation with gorilla trekking, the experience is a different journey. It’s an experience of its own kind – especially with such key personnel escorting you!
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Like our Gorilla Habituation program, the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is run on a similar premise. There are around 5000 chimpanzees recorded to live in Uganda and about 1500 of these live in the Kibale National Park. This park found in the district of Kabarole is the only place in Uganda where Chimpanzee Habituation takes place.
A typical habituation experience begins in the hours at dawn between 6am and 6:30am. Like the gorilla habituation experience, only a maximum of 4 people per group inclusive of the researchers and guides are permitted to encounter these chimps. You are then taken to see the location where the primates built their nests the previous night, and if you are lucky you are sure to find them just getting up. Other activities you will see them taking part in are feeding patrolling, copulating, breastfeeding the little ones, hunting, resting and building new nests.
Chimpanzee habituation is not the only activity you can experience in this region, Kibale National Park is not only rich in primates but other wildlife as well. There are 12 primate species in the park – the Central African Monkey, Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkey and the Ugandan Red Colobus Monkey just to name a few. There are mammals that include the Red and Blue Duikers, Sitatungas, Giant Forest Hogs, Bushbucks, Bush pigs, African Buffalo and Common Warthogs. There are carnivores like lions, African Golden Cats, Leopards, Mongooses and two types of otters. And if all of that is not enough then there prolific birdlife in the park with over 325 sited bird species like the Ground Thrush that is endemic to Kibale National Park, the Western Tinkerbird, the African Grey parrot and the Olive long-tailed Cuckoo among others. Did we mention there are also elephants!
Looking to add these exclusive experiences to your travel plans for 2020? If you would like to make this experience yours then contact us today, our Tours By Design team are ready to create your bespoke journey. Check out our small group tour to Africa here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.