Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park; Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest national park located in southwestern part of Uganda in Kisoro district bordering with Virunga national park in Democratic republic of Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The national park was gazette in 1991 mainly to protect the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of wildlife species including primates like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, animals like forest elephants, buffaloes, black fronted duiker, bush pigs, variety of bird species and volcanic mountains like Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga.
Gorilla trekking experience in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla trekking is one of the major activities done in Mgahinga gorilla national park and it involves travelers moving deep into the forest in search of the habituated gorilla families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Apart from Mgahinga gorilla national park, the mountain gorillas are also found in other destinations like Bwindi impenetrable national park in south western Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic republic of Congo.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of about 80 mountain gorillas but only one gorilla group Nyakagezi is habituated and open for trekking on a daily basis. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga starts very early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters where after you will start trekking in the jungle with a park guide who is knowledgeable about the mountain gorillas and conversant with trails in the forest. Trekking of the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on where the gorillas slept the previous night, during trekking you will be able to view other primate species, animals, forest birds, different plants species among others. Once the gorilla family is located you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their habitat which helps you to watch the gorillas carry out their daily activities like feeding, breastfeeding, take photos, learn about their behaviors, record videos with a flash less camera among others.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Mgahinga gorilla national park
A gorilla trekking permit is a document that is issued by Uganda wildlife Authority to any visitor above the age of 15 years allowing him or her to visit the habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga gorilla national park. A single gorilla trekking permit therefore costs USD 700 for foreign non residents, USD 600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens.
Gorilla trekking permits in Mgahinga gorilla national park should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date because there are only 8 permits available daily and they usually get sold out quickly especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February. Gorilla trekking permits in the park can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority by contacting the offices in Kampala via telephone calls, emails or you can book through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking safari in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga can be done all year round though the best period is during the dry/peak season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. During the dry season there is less or little rainfall in the park therefore vegetation will be thin which gives you an opportunity to clearly view the mountain gorillas and other wildlife species. During the dry season access roads and gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable compared to the wet season when the trails are wet, muddy and slippery hence making trekking difficult.
Where to stay during your gorilla trekking safari in Mgahinga
Mgahinga has a number of accommodation facilities where visitors can stay during their gorilla trekking safari. The accommodations range from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites including Mount Gahinga lodge, Mount Gahinga Rest Camp, Travelers Rest Hotel Kisoro, Mucha Hotel Kisoro, Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mutanda Lake Resort, Mgahinga Rest Camp among others.
How to get to Mgahinga gorilla national park for gorilla trekking
Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in southwestern part of Uganda and can be accessed by both road and air transport means.
Air transport, when using air transport means you will book charter flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip and then connect to the park headquarters by a safari vehicle. Flights to the park can be booked by your tour operator.
Road transport, when using road transport it takes about 9 to 10 hours drive from Entebbe or Kampala to the park headquarters. Mgahinga gorilla national park can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda where by visitors fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to the park through Cyanika border which takes about 3 to 4 hours drive.