Mgahinga Gorilla National Park In Uganda is one of the primate national parks in Uganda that is famous because of its endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkey great primate species. On the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo of the west by Virunga national park and Rwanda to the south of volcanoes national park and Congo which covering 33.7km2. Mgahinga national park is the smallest park in Uganda with many tourist attractions including the rare primates to see in the world that is golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, this makes it to be among the most attractive tourist destinations not only in Africa but the entire world. Mgahinga national park protects three Virunga Volcanoes that is Mt. Gahinga which is at an elevation of 3,474 meters, Mt. Sabinyo at 3645m, and Mt. Muhavura.
A large part of the Virunga Conservation features other big national parks including Uganda’s Mgahinga, and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Congos Virunga National Park. Each country has its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and parc national des Virunga. Making, Virunga, and Volcanoes national parks form the 434 square kilometers and this area is known as Virunga Conservation Area. Mgahinga consists of 33.7 square meters among 434 square meters which are just 8%. This park is found in Bafumbira County of Kisoro district.
Mgahinga gorilla national park shares the biggest part of the all Virunga conservation area as it provides stunning views of the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes that dominate the landscape and beckon. After reaching the Mgahinga gorilla national park you will see beautiful overviews of the area when walking up the viewpoint which takes like 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate.
What you can see and do while at Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
Mgahinga Gorilla national park is the second park after Bwindi impenetrable national park where the few remaining mountain gorillas are found. Mgahinga national park has many things to do that as Golden monkey, volcano hiking, gorilla trekking, and others. The following are tourist attractions one can do while visiting Mgahinga Gorilla national park as below;
Tracking the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga gorilla national park is among the unforgettable experience of an African safari. This safari gives you a great opportunity to see the unique apes on a wild safari. Most tourists have a dream of visiting Africa for a Gorilla trekking safari and they even book their tickets to visit gorillas like 2 years in advance to fulfill their dreams. This park has only one habituated gorilla family which is already for habituation and it is known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family with 9 members that are 2 infants, 2 juveniles, 3adult females plus 2 silverbacks. Tracking mountain gorillas in Mgahinga gorilla national park begins at 8:00 am and takes about 2-4 hours but this depends on where gorillas are located because this family sometimes crosses into DR. Congo and Rwanda. There are a few guidelines one should have in mind before trekking gorillas and these will be provided at the briefing time which includes you are not allowed to trek when you’re suffering from infectious diseases reason being gorillas can also catch human diseases, flash photography should not be used, you should burry the wastes 30cm deep, you’re supposed to spend only 1 hour with gorillas after meeting them only 8 people are accepted to trek every day, tourists under 15 years of age are not allowed to participant in mountain gorilla trekking, you have a right to ask a guides if you want to rest or to slow down if they are going too fast, you can also stop and look at insects, flowers, trees, birds and so on. What to wear is also among the things which make this activity excellent, so in your packing list for mountain gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park you need the following as a must; hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, trousers, a gorilla permit, a valid visa card, gardening gloves, a camera with extra batteries, a walking stick but this provided at the park headquarters.
Golden monkey tracking
Golden monkey tracking is one of the major tourist attractions which attracts most visitors to visit Mgahinga Gorilla national park because of its wonderful experience. Golden monkeys are endangered wild animals with around 3000-4000 individuals in the whole world. These primates have colors like grey, black, and a beautiful shade of orange-gold and this is a reason why it is called a golden monkey. They stay in a family of about 100 individuals led by an alpha male they eat flowers, bamboo leaves, sprouts, small invertebrates, lichens, seasonal fruits which are abundant in the forest.
Permit for tracking golden monkeys in Uganda costs 50USD for foreign nonresidents per person each day, 40USD for foreign residents per person per trek, for East African citizens pay 20,000 per person per day while golden monkey habituation for those who want to spend more time with this monkeys is costs 100USD per person. These permits for golden monkey can be booked from the park headquarters of Ntebeko Visitor Center or you can get in touch with Africa Adventure Vacations and help you to process all your bookings.
Golden monkeys are also like mountain gorilla trekking which involves tourists hiking in the forest searching for these primates in their inhabitants. This activity also begins with a briefing about the dos and don’ts of tracking golden monkeys at the park headquarters by 7: 30 then the actual activity starts at 8:00 am. It is carried out through hiking the forest but golden monkeys are not too tiresome like gorillas trekking because golden monkeys live in lower areas so it takes like 3 hours to meet them. As with gorillas, you have only 1 hour after meeting a group of golden monkeys, tourists under 12 years of age are not allowed to do golden monkeys. No minimum number of trekkers who track every day. To enjoy golden monkey tracking with no disturbance, trekkers are required to have the right gear which includes; hiking boots, wear a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, binoculars mostly for birders, energy drinks and snacks, packed lunch, a walking stick to support you when hiking and they are provided at the park headquarters of at your reserved lodge, you can also hire a porter to help you mostly those with heavy luggage.
Mgahinga mountain climbing safaris
Mgahinga gorilla national park is blessed with a lot of activities and mountain climbing is among them. On your safari to Mgahinga Gorilla national do not miss out on mountain hiking. Mgahinga Gorilla national park has three volcanoes and they are part of the Virunga ranges which are found in the Volcanoes national park of Rwanda and Virunga national park of DR. Congo. These volcanoes are known as Sabinyo, Gahinga, and Muhavura, and their names have a literal meaning like Mountain Muhavura means a guide, Mountain Gahinga means a pile of stones, and Mountain Sabinyo means old man’s teeth. Mount Sabinyo is found in Mgahinga Gorilla national of Uganda, Volcanoes national park of Rwanda, and Virunga national park of DR. Congo. When hiking Mountain Sabinyo, you will pass through mushy vegetation so hikers are advised to put on waterproof hiking boots. These mountains require someone to be physically fit to reach their summits and this cannot be done in one day. So to complete your hike without disturbance carry hiking boots, Hat and Sun Glasses, Long Sleeved Shirts / Blouse, Rain Jacket in the wet season, Energy giving snacks, Cameras and extra batteries, sleeping bags, garden gloves, walking stick but this provided at your lodges or the park headquarters, you can even hire a porter to help you during hiking as well as carrying your luggage, flashlights and among others. Park fees are costs 35USD for foreign nonresidents per person per hike, 25USD for foreign residents per person each hike, and UGX 10,000/- for East African citizens.
Mgahinga Gorilla national park has over 180 bird species. Bird watching in this park is done all year round. You will enjoy a lot of endemic Albertine rift in the George trail on your birding safari in Mgahinga Gorilla national park. Some of the bird species one can see while visiting Mgahinga Gorilla national park includes White Starred Robin, Rwenzori Turaco, Dusky Turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Brown Woodland Warbler, Handsome Francolin, Bronze Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, and Streaky Seedeater, White-starred Robin, Kivu Ground Thrush, and Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Greater Double collard Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Shelly’s Dusky Crimsonwing, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Olive Pigeon, and Black-headed waxbill, Cape Robin, Western Green Tinkerbird and among others.
At first Mgahinga Gorilla national park was occupied by Batwa people who were depending on the forest but later they were chased way after this park turned into a national park. Currently, some of them are staying around the park and they work as tourism porters and guides. A Batwa trail gives you an opportunity to known everything about these people as well as exploring more about the forest and they will take you through their transition and history over time. There is also Garama Cave where you will get to know all history of the Batwa.
Best time to visit Mgahiga gorilla national park.
Most tourists who planning a safari to Mgahinga Gorilla national park are always wondering about the best time to visit the park, here is your answer. Mgahinga gorilla national park can be accessed all year round. But the best time to explore this park is during the driest months that are from June-September and December-February when the hiking trails are not slippery and muddy which makes tourists attractions excellent.
Tourists who plan to trek mountain gorillas or golden monkeys in Mgahinga gorilla national park are not recommended to visit the park in the wet season that is from April-May and October, and November Wet season is disturbed by hailstorms and mist which makes it difficult to view wildlife from a distant position. Though some activities are best during this time like birds and migratory bird species are common in the forest at such a time, another good thing with the wet season is that during this time mountain gorillas are easier to access since food can be easily accessible and the mountain gorillas no longer moving long distances, though the park is good in the dry season. This park is found in the tropical rain forest, we are expecting rain any time so you’re advised to carry the right-wear as it may rain any time of the day. Hiking boots, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, a waterproof rain jacket, a hat, packed lunch, and energy drinks are very useful.
Are there accommodation facilities in and around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga national park is the 2nd park where mountain gorilla trekking is done with a wonderful adventure in Africa. Spare some time and explore the wild and have one of the best experiences as you spend your night in the lodges that are fitting to your budget in Mgahinga. There are many accommodation facilities in and outside Mgahinga which ranging from luxury, mid-range to budget. These are some of them.
Mgahinga rest camp is found just outside the Park. With 9 grass-thatched Bandas plus 3 tents that provide private facilities. While staying in Mgahinga rest camp, one has a chance to do gorilla trekking in three countries since Mgahinga gorilla national park of Uganda is located on the border of the Volcanoes national park of Rwanda and Virunga national park of DR. Congo.
Mount Gahinga Lodge is found at the main entrance of the park and it is best for tourists who are looking for luxury facilities. It offers rooms with suite bathrooms, flush toilets, showers, fireplaces, restaurants, and bars stocked with all soft drinks. Activities to do in the park while staying at Mount Gahinga lodge includes; golden monkey, gorilla tracking, bird watching, volcano hiking, Batwa trail, and others.
Travelers’ rest hotel Kisoro is good for tourists who are looking for a mid-range facility. Travelers’ rest hotel Kisoro is found in Kisoro town which is just 14kilometers to Mgahinga. The hotel offers 11 rooms which include triple, twin, double, single suite, and well furnished. It also provides services like internet, garden, laundry services, lounge, restaurant, and among others
Mucha Hotel Kisoro is found in Kisoro town is a midrange facility which is found at the banks of river Mucha. It has 10 en-suite bedrooms, twins, double and single. It offers a restaurant, bars which are stocked with all types of drinks. While staying here, you can participate in gorilla trekking, golden monkey, bird watching as well as enjoying the beautiful views of river Mucha.
Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp is situated in Kisoro town close to the park entrance of Mgahinga and it has 2 dormitories and 3 Bandas. It provides overviews of Virunga Mountain ranges of Sabyinyo, Muhabura, and Gahinga,
Kisoro Tourist Hotel is in Kisoro town and is good for travelers on a gorilla safari in Mgahinga gorilla national park. It offers a conference facility, steam bath, rooms, lounge, sauna, restaurant, bar, internet access, fireplace, laundry, and many others.
There are many lodges around and inside the park where one can stay to complete his/her safari in Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla national park by Road & Air transport
Mgahinga Gorilla national park is found in the southwestern parts of Uganda. It covering 540kilometers from Kampala which takes about 9-10 hours through Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, and Kisoro road to the park headquarters.
Mgahinga national park can be accessed by public means for those who are interested, there are daily buses from Kampala bus station and they will take you to Kisoro town. From here, you can hire a private taxi and drive up to the park headquarters or you can hike if you’re strong enough.
It can also be accessed by tourists on self-drive, from Entebbe international airport through Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro up to Ntebeko park headquarters. It may take you a full day because you have a stopover at the equator, Igongo culture center, and many other. This trip is tiresome but it takes you through beautiful views of homesteads, banana plantations, local markets, local people, Kigezi hills, and others.
Charter flights are also arranged from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro airstrip by Aerolink Uganda limited. They arrange flights every day from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi) at 7:00 am and take like 1 hour up to Kisoro airstrip and then set off at 8: 25am up to Entebbe international airport at 11:25 am.
You can also access Mgahinga gorilla national park from Kigali Rwanda and this is the shortest way to reach the park if you are coming from Rwanda. You can use Kigali international airport and then link by road through Cyanika border to Mgahinga park headquarters which is just a 3-4 hour drive.