Mgahinga vs Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mgahinga vs Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the one 2 national parks in Uganda for a gorilla trekking experience. Both national parks are situated in Southwestern Uganda close to the 2 borders of Katuna and Cyanika. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in bordered by Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest protected area covering an area of about 33.7 square kilometres including all the three Virunga Conservation Areas and it was gazetted in 1991 as a national park after the relocation of the forest settlers before namely the Batwa. Mgahinga National Park is between altitudes 2,227 and 4,127 meters above sea level and offers protection to three of the spectacular Virunga Mountains that include Mount Muhavura which stands at 4,127 high, Mount Sabyinyo which is 3,645 meters high and Mgahinga at 3,474 meters high. Mgahinga derived its name from the Kinyarwanda word Gahinga meaning the “pile of volcanic Lava stone heaps where cultivation is conducted while as Sabyinyo means “old man’s teeth”, Muhavura meaning “Guide.”
Mgahinga National Park is undoubtedly one of Uganda’s breath-taking destinations especially for primates safaris which was gazetted to protect the critically endangered mountain gorillas as well as the endangered golden monkeys. It is also a home to over 39 mammal species some of which include the rare Mountain gorillas, Golden monkeys, Elephants and Buffaloes and many more. Besides, there are also Giant forest hogs, Leopards, Spotted Hyenas, Black fronted duikers and many more as well as over 76 avian species, making it one of the incredible protected areas for your safaris and tours in Uganda.
Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the most sought adventures in Uganda and Africa at large. There are only 3 countries in Africa where to find the Mountain gorillas namely; in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, thus are they have been termed as the most critically endangered primates in the world. While in Uganda, a gorilla trekking permit costs $700 per person both Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park.
Mgahinga national park receives fewer visitors compared to Bwindi impenetrable national park because it only has 1 gorilla habituated family called the Nyakagezi family with about 7 to 14 individuals for tourists to track. Visitors who wish to track the Nyakagezi group in Mgahinga national park because of the limited families. Usually, the Uganda Wildlife Authority does not recommend advance payment for Nyakagezi habituated group given the fact that its members tend to migrate to Rwanda side in Volcanoes National Park or to the Congo side in the Virunga National Park.
This gorilla family – Nyakagezi family has time and again been very mobile and for this reason, most tourists have been scared off because they are not sure whether they will be lucky enough to see these apes in Mgahinga National Park. However, for the last 2 years, they are closely tracked making them stable and they no longer cross to either Rwanda or Congo. Since it is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga National Park, visitors are insecure to book in Mgahinga national park because there is no alternative for another gorilla family. This can’t be compared to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Part which has 4 gorilla trekking sectors and over 15 habituated Gorilla groups set for tourism and a few families for research purposes and due to this, tourists have a wide range of options to spot the mountain gorillas while in Bwindi forest.
The advantage of gorilla trekking in Mgahinga vs Bwindi impenetrable national park is that Mgahinga is quieter and less crowed compared to Bwindi forest. If large crowds of people make you nervous, Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park will be the best option for you, as many pass over this place in favour of Bwindi national park. With smaller, more intimate groups being the rule even in high season, this spot is much better-suited to introverts, as you don’t have to fight off throngs of people when pursuing activities outside of gorilla trekking.
Mgahinga national park is located at the border of Uganda and Rwanda and also at the border of Uganda and Congo. So visiting Mgahinga national park on a mountain climbing experience is the best experience for any travellers. Hiking Mount Muhabura covers about 12km and it takes about 8 hours to reach on top where you will use trails via the shrubs, rock grounds, small grasses among others. While on top of Muhavura Mountain you will be able to view the Rwenzori peaks, Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi forest, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth national park which gives you great experiences. Hiking Mount Sabinyo is very interesting however quite challenging. When hiking on Mt Sabinyo, you will pass through the trails filled with mushy vegetation hence needs one to dress up in hiking boots and while at the top of the mountain, you will be standing in three countries at the same time that is Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mount Gahinga is 3,474 meters high and covers 8 kilometres. While hiking, you will pass through the bamboo forest, and on top of Gahinga Mountain you will experience a swamp filled crater that is 180 meters wide and the stone piles in the gardens. Climbing the three mountains is rewarding in form of the beautiful views of the bird species, animals like elephants, golden monkeys among others hence making your safari in Uganda memorable.
Mgahinga national park is also a home of the Golden monkeys. So visitors can combine gorilla trekking experience and golden monkeys on a 4 Days Gorilla trekking and Golden Monkey trekking. Mgahinga national park harbours about 6 habituated golden monkey trekking and allows a maximum of 6 people to trek each habituated golden monkey family and spend one hour in the presence of the family enjoying the golden monkeys in the tress, taking photos, recording videos among others. Golden monkey trekking is best done in the morning where you hike through the bamboo forest and the activity takes about 1 to 4 hours.When you aren’t making your way through the jungles of Mgahinga National Park in search of its mountain gorillas, you’ll have the opportunity to check out another wonderfully unique primate: the golden monkey. Unlike the mountain gorillas, the golden monkey remains mostly stationary with regards to its nest, making them easy to find. Also, your hike begins at the more reasonable 8 am, making it unnecessary to head to bed at 9 pm the night before in order to get enough sleep.
Mgahinga national park has more competition from the Southern side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, mainly the Nkuringo and Rushaga sector Gorilla groups since they are all in close areas of Kisoro. These sectors found in Kisoro district side together with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and chances are higher to visit Mgahinga for gorilla trekking because of its closeness compared to Bwindi’s Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors. For visitors arriving from Kigali – Rwanda or even from Kampala, gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park is the closest to reach compared to visiting the gorilla groups in Southern Bwindi forest.
Despite the advantages of gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park over Bwindi impenetrable national park, Bwindi forest weighs more on gorilla trekking experiences for visitors who want to have more experience of mountain gorilla in Uganda due to the following;
Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Bwindi forest guarantees 99% for visitors to see the creatures, if you are eager to see mountain gorillas on Uganda holiday safari, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the place to go. It has over 400 gorillas divided into 11 habituated bands, rangers are confident in their ability to track down these beasts. Even if you have to wander for a bit longer than you planned through a sopping wet, steamy jungle, you are virtually assured of coming across a troop of these gentle beasts at some point in your trek.
Bwindi impenetrable national park has more accommodation options compared to Mgahinga national park. Mgahinga National Park may be a quieter place to visit, but the lack of tourist traffic also means there are few high-quality places to stay. To be clear, there are sufficient options that are clean, comfortable, and safe, but those seeking a top-shelf experience may end up disappointed by what they find. There is Gahinga lodge that provides luxurious kind of hospitality when you visit Mgahinga national park compared to Bwindi forest with plenty of lodges available within and just outside the park boundaries, providing accommodation options for every budget. Backpackers will love the value for their money at Bwindi Backpackers Lodge,
Visitors interested in longer treks for hiking, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the best option. When you set out to find the gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the amount of walking, scrambling, and climbing you will have to do is an open question. Nkuringo sector is the best recommended sector of higher hiking experiences.
In conclusion, for gorilla trekking safaris in Mgahinga National Park, tourists have only one habituated gorilla group set for tourism. For interested visitors, this group is currently stable and can easily be tracked in Mgahinga national park. Tourists usually reserve permits for the peak season which falls in the month of June, July, August and September when the groups in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park are fully booked.