Mgahinga National ParkAncient
Ranked among the smallest National Game parks in Uganda, Mgahinga National game park is one of the few places in Africa where you can find the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The word Gahinga (a Kinyarwanda word) means a stone-heap piles of volcanic lava from which cultivation of crops can be carried out. The park is found in Kisoro District found in the southwest region of Uganda. It was gazetted off in 1991 with an aim of protecting and conserving the highly endangered Gentle Mountain Gorillas.
Gorilla Tracking is the major activity carried out in this small, yet well-established National Park. Mgahinga boosts of about 100 Mountain gorillas that inhabit in the bamboo and montane vegetation. The park is also a home to about 39 mammal species including the famous Mountain gorillas, Buffaloes, Golden monkeys, Bushbucks, Elephants, and more than 100 bird species.
National Park borders the Volcanoes National Park found in Rwanda in the south and the Virunga National Game Park found in DRC to the west. The Mgahinga National Game stretches out to the northern slopes of the 3 Virunga Volcanic mountains which are Mount Gahinga at a height of 3474 meters, Mount Muhavura at a height of 4127 meters and Mount Sabinyo at a height of 3645 meters. The three countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo share the above mounts, forming a home to the great Mountain Gorillas.
Mgahinga National Game harbors close to 100 Gorillas, the least number as compared to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, which habit the largest number of Gorillas. The park only has one family of Habituated gorillas called Nyakagezi available for a daily tracking, accommodating up to eight people. This family comprises of more than 10 members, with 4 silverbacks, 2 juveniles, 2 infants and 2 adult females. The biggest number of silver backs is found in Mgahinga National Game with the oldest being 54 years old. It is amazing at how the overthrown Silverbacks still find home amongst the other Gorillas, yet it would otherwise have fled the area to seek refugee or isolate itself till death.
While in Mgahimga, your Gorilla tracking starts early in the morning from Ntebeko entrance upon completion of your breakfast. This is where all those set for Gorilla meet for their amazing excursion to kick start. This begins with a briefing by an UWA agent and ranger on the expectations. The trekking lasts about 1 – 4 hours, and tourists who don’t like hiking for many hours while in the wilderness highly enjoy it.. While trekking, you will discover that the Gorillas prefer being in areas of a low altitude. They commune together with an adult female on a watch, and many times, a silverback in the neighborhood. You will e amazed at how these gentle giants behave as they relax, feed each other and play in their habitats.
When is it best to Visit Mgahinga National Game?
The park can be visited anytime of the year when you plan your Gorilla tracking safari. However, the best time for Gorilla trekking is during the dry seasons.This comes between December – February and June – September, for the forest has short vegetation through which one can easily hike with good visibility. As you do the gorilla trekking, you may also be able to track Golden monkeys, do birding, see a variety of butterflies and as well do mountain climbing.
How to access Mgahinga National Game Park
One can access the park by both air and Road modes. A drive on a well tarmacked road from Kampala, through Masaka, Mbarara and kabale to Kisoro District at the headquarters of Ntebeko park gets you straight to this haven of Mgahinga National game park as you marvel at the amazingly beautiful sceneries and hills of Kigezi. The journey may take between seven (7) to Eight (8) hours on road for the 540 km.
You can also get to the park through use of a chartered flight. This is operated on a daly basis by Aero-link from Entebbe international Airport to airstrips in Kisoro. The flight may take you between 45 minutes to one (1) hour. One can also get to the park through Rwanda just in an hour and a half through Cyanika border in Southern Uganda. Early safari bookings guarantee faster transport arrangements.
Activities on Mgahinga National Game Park
Mountain Gorilla tracking
Gorilla Trekking is the main activity carried out in Mgahinga National Park. The park has only one Habituated family for tourists to visit. About a decade ago, the family was not stable at the park, as it often migrated to the other 2 neighboring parks of Bwindi and the Volacanoes National park in Rwanda. However, as tourists continuously visited the park, the gorilla family of Nyakagezi became stable and made Mgahinga its permanent home. Tourists are permitted to spend only one hour with these gentle Gorilla giants, granting them ab opportunity to commune.
One can get Gorilla permits through contacting us ahead of time for your safari, for their demand peaks high. Uganda boasts of the biggest number of Gorillas in the region. Therefore, many people anticipate to see visit these spectacular beings throughout the year. A Gorilla trekking permit goes for $600 but the price will rise effective July 2020 to $700, as a Gorilla Habituation Permit goes for $1,500
Volcanic Mountain Climbing
Being at the center of the three (3) volcanic mountains, a hiking experience on Mount Mgahinga will be so rewarding. This calls for physical fitness for some of the slopes are steep. The hike offers you stunning views of the whole park and surrounding local communities, like the Batwa Pygmies.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Besides the Mountain Gorillas, the park also offers travelers an opportunity to go Golden monkey tracking. A habituation experience with these beautiful monkeys will thrill you with their lively and playful behavior. Golden Monkey tracking goes for $100 per permit, making it more affordable than the Gorilla Permits
Community walk to the Batwa Pygmies
Your Safari to the Mgahinga National Game Park would be incomplete if you don’t make the Batwa Community cultural walk. You will meet the pygmies, who were the first people living in these lands. The Batwa are the people of the Forests and mountains. They will exhibit their traditional crafts for you and way of life, such as hunting, honey collecting dances among others
Mgahinga National Game park is home to over 100 bird species. Some of these include;- the Streaky seedeater, White stared Robin, Malachite, Olive pigeon, Bronze Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, among other species. This birding haven will give you a variety of well colored birds flying in and around all year through.
What to carry
As you plan out your Mgahinga Safari, we advise that you pack some items like;
-Long sleeved shirts, trousers, a warm sweater or Jacket
-Hiking stick to help you in the excursion
-packed lunch from your hotel.