If you want a more rewarding encounter of the apes, you can’t go wrong with the Gorilla Habituation Experience, in pursuit of utterly wild gorillas. The objective is to move with them, to stay in their sight so that they gradually get used to having people around. It’s an immersive experience, at times edgy, and often exhausting – but the rewards far exceed the efforts. It’s expensive too at US$1500, but that is the same price that you’d pay in Rwanda for regular tracking in which your time with the gorillas is limited to one hour.
It is an exciting alternative considering that you will have up to four hours with the gorillas which starts when you reach the spot where they nested the previous night. During this adventure, you will track them in the company of trackers. This isn’t the case in the regular tracking where you’re simply ushered into a random setting where they are roaming in search for food on that particular day. Because they are not yet used to human presence though, these wild groups tend to play shy, constantly moving fast. To keep up with them, you will constantly be on the move.
In terms of age brackets, over 60% of people who come for gorilla trekking and habituation are above 45, and out of this number only about three fail to complete their hike and most of the time, the reason they get knocked out isn’t necessarily their physical fitness, but rather because they succumb to altitude sickness. It is exactly for this reason that the adventure is not rushed in an effort to enable you acclimatize. The ranger guides on duty allow clients to set their own pace and have stopovers whenever need arises. In between these breaks, you are allowed to replenish your energy levels by having your packed lunch and water.
Against this background, we are more than confident that even if you are not at your utmost fitness level, you can conquer the adventures.
Certainly, there is always an emergency rescue team on standby (at an extra cost) to save the day in the unlikely event that you get overwhelmed by the adventures. They usually rescue clients using a customized stretcher chair locally known as helicopter.