Mgahinga National Park Vs Bwindi Impenetrable National Park : Mgahinga National Park vs Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; This is all about comparing of the two Uganda gorilla destination which is best the for gorilla trekking, terrain and the hike however, gorilla trekking one of the most incredible wildlife experience which is done in few places in the entire world. And the primate’s lover it is only possible for them to encounter these rare mountain gorillas in four protected national park; Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
However, Uganda is a blessed country because she hosts half of the remaining population of endangered mountain gorillas in the wild and are inhabit of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is great destination for encountering mountain gorilla species and become a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994 because of its great biodiversity. Apart from mountain gorillas, Bwindi is also home to over 120 mammal species which includes small antelopes, giant forest pigs, African Golden Cat, side-striped Jackal and African civet, forest elephants among others. There are high chances of seeing several primate’s species in the park including; Chimpanzees, L’hoest’s Monkeys and Black and white colobus monkeys among others. It is also home to over 220 beautiful butterfly’s species and over 350 bird species can be spotted includes; Kiev gerund thrush, Giant Kingfisher, Common Bulbul, White tailed blue, Fly catchers, African green pigeon, Cinnamon –chested bee eater, Crowned hornbill, African harrier hawk, African blue among others. More so, the park is managed by the ‘’UWA’’ Uganda Wildlife Authority a government body.
Before Bwindi gazette into a national park the area was home to Batwa pygmy people who used to live with mountain gorillas in the forests but later on 1991 was gazette as a protected park for critically endangered mountain gorillas. Despite the fact, of being a home to mountain gorillas –gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993 and today has made the park popular tourist destination. Today, Bwindi boosts with over 22 habituation gorilla families which are splintered in four gorilla sectors open to gorilla tourism safari in Bwindi; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo gorilla sector. Mgahinga has only two habituated gorilla group open for tourism. More then, gorilla trekking in Bwindi which is done in four different gorilla sector and each hosts more than one gorilla group. The two groups in the Nkuringo and Rushaga sector are separated for gorilla habituation experience where only 4 visitors are permitted 4 hours with the gorilla family. A total different from standard gorilla trekking where 8 visitors are allowed to view a gorilla family for only one hour.
In favor of Bwindi there must be something special about Mgahinga National Park too. So spotting the gorillas is now guaranteed in both parks –Bwindi and Mgahinga, however, time went on with no case of trekking gorillas in Mgahinga. The Nyakagezi group is where gorilla trekking is done in Mgahinga and gorillas of this family were notorious for crossing over to Rwanda and Congo. Just imagine when they might decide to resume their cross border visits.
The park covers an area of about 331 square kilometers and it is located in Kanungu district in southwestern region of Uganda along the Democratic Republic of the Congo bordered next to the Virunga National Park and on the rim of the Albertine Rift. More to that, Bwindi is habitat of over 120 mammal species ,348 bird species ,220 butterfly’s species and about 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos among others.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park a home to mountain gorillas which are endangered species and in the park estimates a total population of about 650 individuals and currently, no mountain gorillas in captivity but during the 1960s and 1970s mountain gorillas were captured to start captive breeding.
Climate and Weather in Bwindi; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has tropical climate, experiencing annual temperature that ranges from a minimum of 7 to 15 degrees Celsius to a maximum of 20 – 27 degree Celsius. Then the annual rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 millimeters. The park also experiences peak rainfall that tend to experience from March to April and from September to November.
Gorilla trekking in both Bwindi and Mgahinga can be strenuous that involves hiking through rough and steep terrain to locate the gorilla families. Trekking the Nyakagezi gorilla group in Mgahinga is quite much easier to track. Gorilla in Nyakagezi live in a smaller range of number compared to most of the gorilla family in Bwindi.
Since Bwindi is a largest forest, visitors on visit to track mountain gorillas have to hike deeper in the forest in search of some of the gorilla groups. However, some of the gorilla family in Bwindi can easily be accessed as live very near the starting points and allocating them takes less than two hours.
Is Mgahinga has fewer crowds? Answer is yes. Mgahinga National park receives fewer visitors with less crowds by the time of briefing and after gorilla trekking and you can opt to enjoy the thrilling scenery around the park or visit the Batwa pygmy.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a great destination where visitors can spot both the endangered golden monkey and Mountain gorillas. This indicates that visitors can combine gorilla trekking with golden monkey tracking. Note, active Golden monkeys is not a complete alone in Mgahinga not knowing that Bwindi has got Chimpanzees.
While tracking gorillas in Bwindi, visitors can spot chimpanzees along the trails and Mgahinga has no chimpanzees.
In general, gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park gives visitors great chances to take in mountain hiking unlike in Bwindi. The park has three Volcanoes in Mgahinga that is; Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga. Taking climbing adventure to one of the three volcanoes rewards the visitors with gainful view of Mgahinga National Park and a great site for birding, view of forest mammals and primates like golden monkeys which can be spotted along the trails. The tracking trails also leads visitors to visit the Garamba and Muhavura caves that were once used by the Batwa for food storage, gathering and preparing for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga. Both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park allows tourists to go visit the Batwa pygmies were the dominant used to live in the park for decades before they were sadly evicted from the park in 1991.Inspite the fact, Mgahinga Gorilla National park lies in southwestern region of Uganda and was created in 1991 and site on land covering about 33.9 square kilometers.
By that time, number of mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and other park creature declined due to the presence of the Batwa in the Park. The conservation to gain back its creature in number, the government of Uganda had relocated these Batwa people elsewhere. The decision made was no win –win for everyone because the Batwa have never fully settled in their new homes. Although, the Batwa way of life is generally amazing as you can enjoy their unique culture, ancient caves, sacred places, dances, language, traditional stories and way of dressing and hunting, Mgahinga National Park Vs Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
While on visit in Bwindi, visitors have high chances to visit the Batwa outside the park for a shorter time after gorilla trekking experience.
Those on birding trip in Bwindi can take walks through many stunning trails like the waterfall trail, Bamboo trail, Muzubijiro loop trail, and Rushura trail. Some of the trails leads visitors here to visit the local communities around Buhoma and be able to learn about their way of life.
Cost of a gorilla trekking safari both Bwindi and Mgahinga; The cost of a gorilla trekking safari is similar. Gorilla permits in both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga costs USD700 per person.
Regarding transport, both Mgahinga and Bwindi National Park can be accessed similarly since they all located in the southwestern region. From Kampala or Entebbe by road approximately 8 to 9 hours’ drive. You can opt to take a shorter distance from Kigali Rwanda within 4-hour drive or by air from Kampala in Uganda.
By air, you can use Aerolink or Bar Aviation that operates domestic flight from Kajjansi in Kampala or Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro airstrip near Mgahinga.
Those to fly to Bwindi the flight can land directly in Kihihi Airstrip which is not far from Buhoma or Ruhija gorilla sectors in Bwindi.