Situated in southwestern Uganda, Mgahinga National Park is the smallest national park in this remarkable country. It spans to 34 square kilometers and surrounded by Rwanda in the south and in the West the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 15 kilometers away from Kisoro town in Bufumbira County, 55 kilometers from Kabale and over 540 kilometers from Kampala. It was gazetted in 1991 and stretches to the north covering 3 Great Virunga Mountains of Mount Gahinga which stands at 3474 metres, Mount Sabyinyo which stretches to about 3645 meters and Mount Muhabura at 4127 meters. Usually, this protected area receives two rainy seasons from February to May and from September to December every year. In average, the park receives 25omm in October and minimum of 10mm in July.
Besides its smallest size, this park is one of the special destinations in Uganda. It is the second national park to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that offers tourists a chance to track the rare mountain gorillas in Uganda. There are over 80 mountain gorillas that are inhabited in the park and they make up the only one habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that tourists always visit for their lifetime experiences in Uganda. In addition, there are also other spectacular wildlife species for visitors to catch a glimpse while on their safaris in Uganda some of which include the buffaloes, bush bucks, elephants, the striking golden monkeys and many more. It features the three main Virunga Mountains whose large cones spread to a large area and can be sighted at a distance. This park is undoubtedly one of the amazing diverse destinations in Uganda offering the mountain plants and wildlife. In terms of its climate, it experiences conducive climate which facilitate the growth of afro montane vegetation and the variety of vegetation especially the bamboo which the rare mountain gorillas depend on.
The people around the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is mainly surrounded by the Bufumbira around Kisoro area and they are largely farmers. The Batwa pygmies the renowned forest dwellers also live around the park.
Tourist activities in Mgahinga National Park
This is regarded as lifetime experience that anyone who is planning their safaris shouldn’t miss. Nyakagezi group is the only one habituated gorilla family that is set for tourism in the park and it comprises of in individuals, two silverbacks, three adult females, two juveniles and two infants. For intending tourists, gorilla permits in Uganda are issued at $600 per person and only one hour is given to you to spend with these spectacular primates. While in the forest tracking for the rare mountain gorillas, you are required to maintain a distance of eight meters at all times, you will need water proof hiking boots, sun screen, rain jackets, bottled water, snacks, gardening gloves, binoculars and many more.
Golden monkey tracking and habituation experience,
Besides the rare mountain gorillas, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also offers refuge to the world’s most striking golden monkeys which offer you yet another thrilling primate adventure during golden monkey tracking and golden monkey habituation experience while in their natural habitat. Like any primate, only an hour to be with these apes while during habituation you enjoy all the four hours.
For adventure lovers, Mgahinga National Park is one of the destinations that you should consider for life changing experiences. You can choose to hike through the Sabyinyo volcano whose name denotes “old man’s teeth,” this volcano features three breathtaking peaks for adventure lovers to climb. There is also Mount Gahinga which extends to 3474 meters high and denotes pile of small stones and features an 8 kilometer swamp. As well, you can hike through mount Muhavura which means the guide.
Cave exploration in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
If you are interested in cave exploration then Mgahinga shouldn’t miss in your itinerary. There is Garama cave which is 342 meters in length and 14 meters deep. It was once the refuge to Batwa pygmies. While in the cave the guide will explain to you the lifestyle of the Batwa while in the forest that described them as forest dwellers. You can also catch a glimpse of the platform which is 800 meters from the park gate or alternatively engage in border trail for about five hours, as you head to Sabyinyo.
Bird watching in Mgahinga National Park
Besides striking imaginations with the rare mountain gorillas, you will also have opportunity to spot some interesting bird species of about 115 of which 79 rare species includes many endemic species to the East Congo Montane area. Among amazing bird species include the Rwenzori Turaco, Yellow billed kite, Grey crowned crane and crowned hornbill. The Virunga protected area entirely comprises of 295 birdlife in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine rift afro montane area taking about 59 percent of the entire famous endemic species.
How to access Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga National Park can be reached from Kampala about eight hours drive through Kabale to Kisoro town by four by four safari vehicle.
You can fly from Entebbe to Kisoro using Eagle air.
Lodges in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
There are several lodges for you to spend a night after your breathtaking adventure. Some of the notable accommodation facilities for you to spend a night on include the Mgahinga Safari Lodge, Sky blue, Virunga Hotel and Travelers Rest Camp
In conclusion, Mgahinga National Park is one of the ten magnificent national parks in Uganda. It is credited for its fascinating mountain gorillas and the rare golden monkeys as well as several bird life.