Mount Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest national park in the Virunga conservation area is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district. Mgahinga is 33.7sq.km which consists of partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. The park covers the northern slopes of 3 Volcanoes Mountains which are Mt Muhavura, Mt Gahinga and Mt Sabinyo. The park is situated about 10km south of kisoro that borders the south by Volcanoes National park of Rwanda and in the west by Virunga National park of DRC. The Virunga conservation area that spreads across the 3 countries protects its own portion of the Virunga. The 3 parks altogether form 434sqkm which is 8% of the Virunga conservation area in Bufumbira county of Kisoro District. The climate in Mgahinga is mild to cold and wet with a high altitude of 20°C which makes it the coldest wildlife safari destination in Uganda. Mgahinga Gorilla national parks vegetation consists of mainly ground plants like sub alpine and afro montane plants like Bamboo. Bamboo plants are capable of growing in relatively cold climate which covers 60% of the park. The park harbors 76 mammal species includes endangered mountain gorillas.
Top things to see in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Flora and Fauna
Mgahinga Gorilla park slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitude bands of vegetation like the bamboo and montane woodland. The Ericaceous zone that contains woodland vegetation and sequence of culminates alpines zones occur on East African Mountains above 3000m. The park harbors 39 species of mammals and 79 bird species that include Monkeys, elephants, buffalos, bush pigs with the famous Mountain gorillas of Uganda. Magahinga Park has many activities that can be enjoyed such as Birding, Batwa Cultural experience, Gorilla trekking and Mountain climbing.
Kisoro district is famously known for Mgahinga Gorilla Park. There are two tribes, the most famous are the Bafumbira who are primarily farmers. The Batwa who once practiced hunting in the mgahinga forest which is the minority group.
Mgahinga Gorilla park activities are arranged from the visitor’s center at Ntebeko viewing platform 800m uphill from the visitor’s center. Uganda travelers on a gorilla tour will have a chance to see good views of the park of the surrounding areas which does not require a professional guide.
Mgahinga has three volcanic peaks, Muhabura, sabinyo and Mgahinga. These can be hiked with special equipment and require reasonable level of fitness if you intend to enjoy the hiking. Muhabura means guide and it’s a prominent landmark named for local practice of identifying volcanic rocks.
Mt Sabinyo. Sabinyo has three peaks, the ascent peak before climbing. Peak 2 along a narrow ridge that overlooks breathtaking drops into deep gorges on each side. Peak 3 is reached by a step and muddy scramble. The 14kmdrive trip will take about 7 hours.
Mt Gahinga. Ghahinga means old rock, Travelers on a gorilla tour will climb through Bambo forest to reach the lush swamp lies in the crater at the summit. This climb takes around 6 hours to reach.
Mt.Muhavura. This volcanic mountain is capped by a small lake. The trek takes about 5hours to reach the superb alpine vegetation. This trail provides the quickest and shortest route to experience these dramatic plants.
Things to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Park is home to some of the worlds endangered mountain gorillas making gorilla trekking a must do activity in the park. Gorilla Tracking is the most breath taking activity in the park and Nyakagezi gorilla group is the most tracked in this park. Gorilla tracking starts in the morning from Ntebeko to track the giant apes-Endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda. Eight permits are issue daily to track Nyakagezi group which currently comprises of 5 silverback, two adults’ females and 3 young stars. Mgahinga gorilla national park has one habituated gorilla group. All Trackers should be 15 years of age and only 8 people are allowed to track the gorillas. Travelers on a gorilla tour are given guide line at the headquarters in Buhoma to track gorillas. Travelers on gorilla trekking Uganda tour are assured of seeing mountain gorillas in Mgahinga on a guided Uganda safari tour to the pearl of Africa.
Mgahinga Mountain Hiking
Mgahinga Gorilla Park offers an eye sighting landscape slopes of the volcanoes. Mgahinga is part of the Virunga volcanoes that stretches from Rwanda, DRC to Uganda. All the three mountains are given names according to their ascent findings like Sabunyo means old man’s teeth, Gahinga means Pile of stones and Muhavura means guide which is the highest of the three. Muhavura can be seen as far as Kisoro town and a guide is need to move from one mountain that leads you to another. Hiking Mgahinga is filled with mushy vegetation whose impact can be reduced by dressing waterproof hiking boots, good boots, rain gears and warm clothes while climbing mount Gahinga. Mount Sabinyo is a gate way to Rwanda gorillas and DRC when it’s in Uganda. All the 3 mountains can be climbed in one day if one is physically fit. Mgahinga offers a good chance of seeing various bird species in the bamboo zone while duikers and bush bucks inhabit the marshy crater lakes at the peak encircled by giant lobelias.
Golden Monkey Trekking
The next best activity to do in Mgahinga is a chance to see the golden monkey in bamboo trees. You can easily see both the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys which are the smallest primates to trek in the park. The activity takes about 4 hours per session to see golden monkeys in their natural habitats. There are 8 habituated families of golden monkeys in their sanctuary. The route that you take to find the monkeys may be akin to because monkeys tend to look for young bamboo branches to feed on. Binoculars and cameras are required for spontaneous birding experience, appropriate hiking gears, water proofs, and gloves to help you enjoy tracking the endangered golden monkeys in the thick forest of Mgahinga gorilla park.
The Batwa Experience Trail
Visit the impoverished African pygmies /Batwa communities who lived in mgahinga forest as hunters before they were displaced. The batwa people are inhabits of the mgahinga forest before the park was set aside for the purpose of being made a national park. The batwa were later displaced but some of them live near the park and participate in the tourism sector as porters and guides. Set out to discover the Garama cave-scared piece of Batwa history a good experience that takes you through the activities and history of Batwa. It’s said that this cave was used as a hiding place of pygmies from the Bantu invasion.
Where to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park?
Mgahinga gorilla national park has various accommodation in and around the park. The most frequent safari lodges range from md range, budget to Luxury and a choice is made by travelers on a Uganda gorilla tour in accordance with their budget. The lodges include
Mount Gahinga lodge. This is luxury lodge positioned to the entrance of the park presenting a perfect match to tracking the golden monkey and mountain gorillas.
Mucha Hotel Kisoro. This is a mid-range lodge located on the banks of river Mucha with great degree surrounded by banana plants and other flora. Mucha lodge is positioned to an average point to track both Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Check some of the lodges in Mount Mgahinga national Park that include Mount Gahinga rest camp, Mount gahinga lodge. A wide choice of lodging is available in Kisoro town which is 14 kms to the gate of mgahinga, these include Kisoro travelers Rest. SkyBlue, Virunga hotel, Muhabura Guest house, Kisoro tourist hotel
How to get to Mgahinga Gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park has a lot of exploration to offers to Uganda travelers on a gorilla safari tour to Uganda. The park can be reached by road or by Air according to the clients intended budget.
By Air Fly in safari
The easy way to access the park is by using air transport with (erolink) which takes 1 hour to reach Kisoro airstrip. This mode of transport is used by travelers who don’t want to spend much time on the way.
Mgahinga gorilla national park can be reached by use of a 4×4 vehicle. Kisoro can be accessed which is about 540km (8-9) hours from Kampala. You can also go for budget safari by hiring a vehicle from autorentauganda for your comfort adventure