Main Things To Do In Mgahinga National Park
What are the main things to do in Mgahinga gorilla national park? The park is one of the lucky national parks that is blessed to be hosting mountain gorillas in the whole world. The park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda with neighbors Virunga national park of DR Congo and Volcanoes national park of Uganda. Maghinga national park is Uganda’s smallest national park covering a total area of 33.7 sq. km. The park hosts some of the Virunga 8 mountains namely Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura. The park is also home to the rare golden monkeys, over 76 mammal species, and 184 bird species.
The main activities / things to do in Mgahinga national park
The following are the main things to do in Mgahinga gorilla national park;
Encountering Mgahinga gorillas
Gorilla trekking is the main activity done in Mgahinga national park as it gives you an opportunity to be around mountain gorillas for a maximum of 1 hour while in their natural habitats. To trek mountain gorillas in Mgahinga national park, you must be aged 15 years and above, free from transmittable diseases such as flu and cough, and on top of all that you must possess a valid gorilla trekking permit. The gorilla trekking permits for Mgahinga national park are bought from Uganda Wildlife Authority although you can still book them using a trusted local tour operator at the same fee of $700 foreign non-residents, $600 foreign residents, and shs250,000 East African citizens.
On the day of trekking, the trekkers need to wake up early so to catch up with a briefing at the park offices. During the briefing, a group of 8 trekkers is taught about the dos and don’ts of the trekking activity, and after this, a ranger guide leads them into the jungle to search for this one gorilla family that is in the park. During the searching, the trekkers have opportunities of meeting some of the park animals such as giant forest hogs, bush pigs, forest buffaloes, golden cats, side-striped jackals, elephants, bushbucks, golden monkeys, black-fronted duikers, birds like the Ibis, Pin-tailed Whydah, Paradise Fly-catcher, Rwenzori Batis, Speckled Mousebird, White-naped Raven, and different vegetation covers. After several hours of searching and locating the gorilla family, the trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around mountain gorillas, watch them do daily activities, learn about their habits as they take photos.
Mgahinga Golden monkey tracking
Mgahinga national park is the only place where you can trek golden monkeys in Uganda. The golden monkeys are rare beautiful primates and trekking them requires one to have a valid golden monkey trekking permit that is issued out by Uganda Wildlife Authority at a fee of $60 for both foreign residents and foreign non-residents while East African citizens shs250,000. There are 2 habituated golden monkey families in Mgahinga national park and there is no limit on the number of trekkers as long as they are 15 years and above. Trekking golden monkeys start with a briefing at the park offices after which trekkers are led by the rangers into the jungle where they start searching these rare primates with opportunities of meeting different park animals like forest hogs, bush pigs, buffaloes, elephants, duikers, different bird species like the Yellow-vented Bulbul, Firefinch, Black Kite, Rwenzori Turaco, Blue-headed Coucal, White-naped Raven, Paradise Fly-catcher, and trees.
Hiking/mountain climbing in Mgahinga national park
For travelers who are interested in hiking, Mgahinga is one of the places you can do mountain climbing in Uganda. The park hosts 3 of the Virunga mountains and are mountain Gahinga, mountain Muhabura, and mountain Sabyinyo. Mountain Muhavura has the highest peak at 4,127km, mountain Sabyinyo follows with the highest peak at 3,669m and lastly, the smallest is mount Gahinga with the highest peak at 3,474m. Hiking any of the mountains requires one to be physically fit and it starts with a briefing at the starting points where hikers are taught about the dos, don’ts as well as expectations of the hike. During the hiking, the hikers have opportunities of seeing some animals such as elephants, buffaloes, duikers, giant forest hogs, chimpanzees, monkeys, birds, and different vegetation covers. At the summit of any of the mountains, hikers are rewarded with beautiful views of the surroundings such as Virunga volcanoes, lakes, mountains, and the park.
Batwa cultural experiences in Mgahinga national park
Batwa cultural experiences in Mgahinga national park are one of the top activities done in Mgahinga national park. Mgahinga national park used to be home to Batwa pygmies not until the government evicted them to protect the remaining species of mountain gorillas as well as other animals. The Batwa cultural experience in Mgahinga national park is led by the Batwa people who take tourists around the park showing them how they used to survive in the forest, use bows and arrows to kill animals, hunt fruits, collect honey, and also how they used different plant species as local medicine. The Batwa cultural experience also gives tourists an opportunity to taste local food and get entertained by the local people inform of traditional dances and drama. By visiting the Batwa pygmies means that you have respected their culture and also supported the livelihoods of communities around the park.
Bird watching in Mgahinga national park
Birding in Mgahinga national park is one of the activities most done in the park. Mgahinga national park is home to over 184 different bird species that have been so far recorded in the park making it an interesting birding area. Some of the bird species in Mgahinga national park are endemic to the Albertine rift region such as Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Yellow-crested Helmet Shrike, Collared Apalis, Montane Masked Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Red-throated Alethe, and Stripe-breasted Tit. Other bird species in Mgahinga national park include African olive pigeon, archer’s robin-chat, alpine swift, black kite, blue headed coucal, Kivu ground thrush, dusky Crimsonwing, moorland chat, olive woodpecker, ibis, scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, Rwenzori batis, grey capped warbler, Rwenzori nightjar, moorland chat, Rwenzori turaco, red-faced woodland warbler, blue-headed coucal, crowned hornbill, olive pigeon, fire finch stonechat, olive pigeon, pin-tailed whydah, and white-necked raven.
Nature walks in Mgahinga national park
Nature walks are one of the activities travelers can do in Mgahinga national park during their safari. Uganda wildlife authority has established different nature walk trails in the park to take tourists to different parts of the park. The nature walks are led by a well-trained Uganda Wildlife Authority guide who leads the tourists around the park and that’s why a fee of $30 foreign non-residents, $15 foreign residents, and shs10,000 is charged. The nature walks around Mgahinga national park give you an opportunity to see different tree species, bird species, animals, swamps, rivers, and lakes like Mutanda and Chahafi.
Where to stay in Mgahinga national park?
There are a number of accommodation facilities in and around Mgahinga national park where travelers can have a comfortable stay. The accommodation facilities in and around Mgahinga national park range from luxury to mid-range to budget options and they include Lake Mulehe Lodge, Lake Chahafi Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Gahinga Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Muhabura Climbers Rest Camp, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, Travellers Rest Hotel, Air Land Hotel, Lake Chahafi Resort, Muhabura Motel, Mondi Lodge Kisoro, Sabyinyo Guest House, Virunga Campsite and Backpackers, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, and Gorilla Hills Eco-Lodge among others.
Getting to Mgahinga national park by road and air transport.
By road transport; travelers to Mgahinga national park can access the park from Kampala/Entebbe via Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale-Kisoro Road taking about 9-10 hours. The journey to the park is long but with beautiful views of the countryside, a stopover at the equator, distant views of lakes, rivers, hills, mountains, and smiling people.
Travelers from Kigali in Rwanda can access Mgahinga national park by road transport via Cyanika border in Kisoro taking about 4-5 hours with beautiful views of the countryside and rolling hills.
By air transport; Travelers to Mgahinga national park in southwestern Uganda can access the park by using chartered flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro airstrip. The flights take only 2 hours and from the airstrip, you can will have to be driven by a safari driver-guide to the park or lodge. Travelers who want to use air transport are advised to inform their tour operator so that they book for you in advance
What to do with Africa Adventure Vacations?
Africa adventure vacations is a tour company based in Uganda licensed by the Uganda Tourism Board and a member of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Booking with Africa adventure vacations provides you safety and confidence during your safari courtesy of well-trained safari driver guides who are well conversant with all routes and tourism destinations in Africa. You can book with us any of the activities you want to do in Africa such as mountain gorilla trekking, mountain gorilla habituation, birding, game drives, hiking, nature walks, and community tours among others. Booking can be done at any time of the year.