Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. “Where gold meets silver”
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in South Western Uganda in the district of Kisoro at the borders of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in the Virunga mountains incorporating 3 volcanoes; Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhavura. The altitude ranges from 2,227m to 4,127m and the park has an area cover of 35 square kilometres making it the smallest in Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is adjacent to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo forming the trans-boundary Virunga Conservation Area.
The park was established in 1930 as a gorilla game sanctuary and later upgraded to a national park in 1991.
Mgahinga is a word derived from “Gahinga” a Kiyarwanda word meaning a pile of volcanic lava stone heaps around where cultivation is done.
Best time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Gorilla trekking and other activities like hiking and golden monkey trekking are carried out the whole year but the dry season in the months of June – August and December – January are the best since the trails are dry and easier to navigate through.
The rain in Mgahinga can be experienced anytime and therefore you are always advised to carry the right clothing.
Attractions in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to several animal species including Black-fronted Duicker, Forest elephants, Side-stripped Jackal, forest buffalo, giant forest hog, black and white colobus monkey, golden monkey, vervet monkey, Red-tailed monkey and the main attraction being the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga is on the list of great birding destinations in Uganda inhabited by various species such as; Rwenzori Turraco, Rwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Double-collared sunbird, Archer’s Francolin, Strange weaver, African Hill Babbler, Crested Mantled Flycatcher, Dusky Crimsonswing, Shelly’s Crimsonswing, Doherty’s Bushrike.
The other attractions include the 3 inactive volcanoes; Gahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura. The Ntebeko visitor centre and cultural visits to the Batwa/Pygmy local communities.
Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
This is one of the world’s sought after wildlife experiences. The activity starts in the morning after the briefing. While walking through the trails, you will be accompanied by an armed game ranger and besides encountering mountain gorillas, you will also spot other primates and animal species. The gorillas can be located in 2-3 hours depending on their location and you will be allowed to spend one hour in their presence watching them play, feed and going about their daily lives.
Golden monkey tracking
The golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga ranges. Golden monkey tracking also starts early morning with a briefing. The activity takes about 30 minutes to 3 hours and once you encounter the striking orange-coated monkey, you are given one hour to watch them and observe their habits. One can also opt for the golden monkey habituation experience and here you spend more time them.
Hiking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is done in the volcanic peaks all which can be hiked in a day. Climbing to the top of these peaks rewards you with stunning views of the Virunga ranges and the surrounding environment.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda with several scenic locations in the forest to spot different bird species like; Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Double-collared sunbird, Archer’s Robbin, Strange weaver, African Hill Babbler, Crested Mantled Flycatcher, Dusky Crimsonswing, Shelly’s Crimsonswing, Doherty’s Bushrike.
Batwa trail cultural visit
The Mgahinga forests are home to the local Batwa pygmies. The trail leading to their communities goes through the Gama caves. You will get an opportunity to experience their traditional way of living through the performance of music and dance, food gathering and many other activities.
How to get to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can be accessed by road from Kampala via Kabale to Kisoro.
Can also be accessed by air by taking a chartered/scheduled flight from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Kisoro airstrip.
Accommodation facilities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Traveller’s Rest Inn
- Lake Mutanda Resort
- Ikoroo Hotel