Mgahinga Gorilla Park is one of Uganda’s smallest national parks. furthermore its one of the most amazing parks and is located on the verdant the slopes of 3 volcanoes which are Mt. Sabyinyo, Mt. Muhavura as well as Mt. Mgahinga that form a beautiful background for the park. These peak constitute six of the Virunga volcanoes that mark the distant southern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley shared by Uganda, the DR Congo and Rwanda. what is Special about these Virunga mountains is that they are habitat to the endangered yet much sought after mountain gorillas. During your safari in Uganda there are only two places in the country to see the mountain gorillas and these include Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Although mountain gorilla tracking is one of the most loved tourist activities in Mgahinga, there are some really interesting hikes offered in this park which range for shorter hikes of 2hours to longer ones that may go for as long as 8 hours during which you will enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The Weather of Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park each year experiences two rainy seasons from March to May and then from September to November. However October is the wettest month receiving an average of 250mm of rainfall. July on the other hand is the driest month receiving 10mm.
How to get to Mgahinga National Park
This park can be reached by road or air transport. It is 540km approximately 8 hours from Kampala capital. The 80km section on murram between Kisoro town and Kabale town is a mountainous twisting drive that takes approximately hours. The Ntebeko park gate is 14km (approximately Half an hour drive) south of Kisoro town.
By Air, there are Charter and scheduled flights flights from Entebbe Kisoro airstrip.
There are a number of accommodation facilities that range from luxury to budget found within Kisoro town in which you can stay on your Safari in Uganda to Mgahinga and among these are: Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Kisoro Travelers’ Rest Hotel, Countryside Guesthouse Kisoro and Mountain Gorilla Safari Hotel
Plants and Animals in Mgahinga National Park
The Mgahinga mountain slopes are covered with a variety of uncommon altitude types of vegetation including grass as well as bushes some of which have been cleared for agricultural purposes by local farmers. from that is the Mantana woodland, bamboo area, the mantana woodland plus the Ericaceous area made up of huge leathers.
The park has more than 39 mammal species as well as 79 birds. Some of the bigger mammals include elephants, leopards, buffalos as well as warthogs although hardly seen. Most prominent in this park are the mountain gorillas however there is a resident population of golden monkeys. Some of the bird species worth seeing include: the crowned crane, Rwenzori turaco, black kite as well as the crowned hornbill.
Local people and tribe.
Mgahinga National park is also home to a number of the primates and among them are the Golden Monkeys. This is one of the parks where the Silver-backs (Gorillas) meet the Golden Backs( Golden monkey) in Uganda. Golden monkey trekking can be organized and it requires prior
The Kisoro district has a large population of people with two major ethnic groups with the biggest number being the Bafumbira who are mainly farmers then The minority Batwa, who previously were subsistence hunters and gathers surviving in the forest.
Mgahinga has 3 volcanic peaks, which include Muhuvura at 4127m, Sabyinyo at 3669m as well as Mgahinga 3474m which may be hiked.
Mount Sabinyo possess 3 peaks which may all be hiked all offering breathtaking views across the surrounding terrain. This mountains is found at the border of 3 countries including Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The 14 kilometer hike takes approximately 8 hours.
An hike of Mount Gahinga takes you through the bamboo forest across the swamp found in the crater on the peak. The hike from the bottom takes approximately 6 hours.
This volcanic cone has a beautiful crater lake on the peak which can be enjoyed following a 5 hours hike to the 4100m peak. The actual enticement about this hike is the unique breathtaking alpine vegetation as well as sweeping views. This Muhuvura trail offers the shortest as well as simplest trail to see these amazing plants species whereas the scenery includes 5 of the Virunga volcanoes, mountain Rwenzori, the rift valley and Lake Edward. It requires 8 hours to summit Mt. Muhavura
Buffalo Wall plus Bird Watching
Farmland close to the northern border of the park is safeguarded by a stone wall which keeps buffalo a from the locals’ farms but in the park. This trail is ideal for those interested in bird watching. Some of the bird species you will be able to see include the fire finch, ibis as well as speckled mouse
Batwa Trail and Garama Cave
The Batwa Trail leads from the base of Muhuvura Cave. This walk is conducted by Batwa guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture.
The 342m long Garama Cave lies beneath a plateau near the northern edge of the park, 3km from Ntebeko. It is set in the former farmland zone but in earlier times, the cave lay deep in the forest when it was occupied periodically by Batwa who used it as a council chamber and a retreat after raiding their neighbours. Today the cave provides an atmospheric a performance of Batwa music at the end of the Batwa Trails.
The most enjoyed as well as memorable activity within Mgahinga is mountain gorilla tracking. There is habituated gorilla group which unfortunately is very mobile crossing borders into neighboring Rwanda and DRC. The activity begins with an early briefing Ntebeko.
the tracking may take anything between two to eight hours depending on where the gorillas are. Since Gorilla tracking is the most sought after activity within the tourism industry, we recommend that you book this activity in advance so as to reserve trekking permits.
What you need gorilla trekking
· strong walking shoes / boots
· Rain coat and hat
· Sunscreen lotion
· Insect repellent
· enough Drinks and snacks
N.B there are Porters are available at an affordable cost.
Rules for gorilla trekking in Uganda
To safeguard the gorillas as well as the visitors, the rules below have been put in place and should be followed:
- People with contagious disease, like flu are not allowed to track the gorillas.
- Remain in a single group; Do not surround the mountain gorilla.
- On finding them, Leave a minimum distance of 5 meters between you and the mountain gorillas.
- In case they approach you, gently move backwards.
- Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
- When in the presence of the gorillas, Do not eat, drink or even smoke
- In case you need to sneeze or even cough, turn your head away from the mountain gorillas and properly cover your mouth plus nose.
- In case you feel like long call, dig a hole 30cm / 1 foot and afterwards burry the faeces well.
- do not litter the park with water bottles and wrappers
- Avoid spitting on the vegetation within the park
- Persons below 15 years are not allowed to track mountain gorillas.
- When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements.
- Contact time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.