Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga gorilla national park makes it Uganda’s smallest national park with an area covering over 33.7square kilometers. The park derives its name from ‘’Gahinga’’ the local word which means the piles of volcanic stones got from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes. The area was declared as a game sanctuary in 1993 and gazette as a national park in 1991 to protect the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga gorilla national park a home for mountain gorillas has one habituated transboundary gorilla group and surrounded with Batwa pygmies who are well trained as guides to guide visitors to learn the secrets of the forest.
The park sits at an altitude of between 2,227meter and 4,127meter above the sea level. Above all, it was created to protect the unique mountain gorillas that inhabits its dense forests as well as habitat for the endangered golden monkeys.
Mgahinga National Park is diversity of wildlife with over 76 mammals and also offers a huge cultural significance in particular for the Batwa pygmies. The Batwa pygmies were the first people to live in the forest as hunter-gatherers and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unequalled.
The park also features with extinct volcanoes which is part of the impressive Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Furthermore, it forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which is adjacent to other national parks in these countries. The volcanoes slope of the Mgahinga national park contains a range of ecosystems and are biologically diverse, their peaks provide spectacular backdrop to this remarkable scenery.
Activities to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga national park offers fabulous activities one can engage in while on visit such as Gorilla trekking, Hiking the Virunga volcanoes, Golden monkey tracking and Batwa trail experience as explained below;
This is the most ranking African safari adventure. And the secret attached to the first time encounter with these mountain gorillas on a wild safari is difficult to describe. To many travelers who wish to enjoy this lifetime experience always book their permits for gorillas trekking two years in advance in order to get their dream come to pass.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park is quite unforgettable experience done early in the morning after a short briefing about the rules of gorilla trekking at Ntebeko Visitors center. Then meet the ranger guide to lead you to Nyakagezi gorilla group in the bamboo forest. The habituated Nyakagezi gorilla group consists of 9 members ,3 adult females ,2 silverbacks ,2 Juveniles and 2 infants. While trekking remember that mountain gorillas are wild creatures do not touch them and always listen to your guide’s instructions. Once you find them one hour will be given to you to watch these rare creatures in their nature inhabits learn how they feed, play, nest their nets high on the trees plus photography.
Best time for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla trekking is open to visitors throughout the year but the best time is in June July ,August and September and December then January and February .During this period of the year gorilla trekking is made easier because the forest trails are drier making it easy steep slopes to search for endangered mountain gorillas .Other months of March ,April ,May and October ,November receives heavy rainfall thus a challenge for one to hike in muddy and slippery steep slopes .During wet season travelers tend to get accommodation at low rate and the park is out of conjunction of visitors..
What to pack for Mgahinga Gorilla Trekking?
Below is a list of essentials to carry for your gorilla trekking tour;
They include; carry water proof hiking boots, garden gloves, camera with extra batteries, insect repellent, long sleeved shirt, trousers, hat, sunscreen, medical kit, walking stick many more.
Rules of Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Below are the rules and regulations to be observed in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas.
- Keep a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas.
- Stay in tight groups
- If you need to cough always turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth.
- Body wastes must be buried 30centmeter deep and ensure that it is filled in afterwards.
- All litter must be removed from the park for disposal.
- Person under 15 years are not allowed to trek gorillas.
Volcanoes Hiking/Mountain climbing
The Volcanoes hiking is done through Virunga mountain that provides great views as you wind your way down into the valley toward Kisoro. There are three volcanoes in Mgahinga where you can carry out hiking from. That is Mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Muhabura.
Hiking along here takes about eight hours to cover the 14 kilometers round trip following a steep ridge up to the peak.
Hikers on this mountain take around six hours to ascend and descend measuring 3,474 meters topped by a swamp-filled crater and giant lobelias. Hiking trail from here provides great sights of golden monkeys on their way through the bamboo forest.
This is the highest peak and the hike needs you to be physically fit because it takes eight hours to reach the top.
Cultural Encounter-Batwa Trail
On your visit, you will go visit the Batwa trail to discover the magic of the Batwa ‘s ancient home while enjoying nature walks and learning more about their cultural heritage. You will visit the Garama cave, have demonstration on how to make bamboo cups, learn to make medicine from plants as well as enjoying their amazing cultural dance.
Bird watching is one of the best done activity on Uganda safari in Mgahinga national park which can be done through the bamboo forest and in the montane forest that provides rewardable sights of beautiful Rwenzori Turaco, Dusky turtle Dove, Kivu ground Thrush, Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tcharga, Bronze Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Black headed Waxbill, Streaky seedeater among others.
Garama Cave Exploration
This is an attractive gorge measuring 342-meter-long lying at the beneath of the northern rim of the park ,3meter from Ntebeko. It gives travelers impressive sights and good memorable photograph.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Golden Monkey Tracking is one of the best done activities in Mgahinga that makes it quite interesting experience to visitors who visits the park. Challenge yourself and achieve an excitement of a lifetime to make your dream come successful.
When to Go
The best time to visit Mgahinga is during dry seasons of June-October and December to March when the park is out of water. During dry seasons forest trail heads can be easily accessed compared to wet season that usually fall in the month of March-May and September –November. October is the wettest month making roads and forest hiking impassable.
Where to stay
There are number of comfortable campground, hotels and lodges around Kisoro and Lake Mutanda area. Inside the park there is no developed lodging facilities. There are other various lodging options near the Ntebeko’s entrances.
Book now your Gorilla trekking package or any other activity to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park an ideal place to visit while on visit to Pearl of Africa’ ’Uganda’’.