Situated in Kisoro district south western Uganda, Mgahinga gorilla national park is among the Virunga volcanic mountain chain famous for gorilla safaris. The park lies covers Uganda’s share of the Virunga massif bordered by Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga gorilla national park lies along the northern slopes of Mt. Gahinga, Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt. Muhabura all of which are part of the six Virunga mountain chain marking the southern limit of the Albertine rift valley. All these parks are home to the endangered mountain gorilla. This is the smallest Uganda national park at 33.7km but the experience it offers make it worth visiting. The national park is a tropical rain forest comprised of lowland equatorial evergreen forest, tropical seasonal forest, montane rain forests and flooded forests among others. The diversity in vegetation favor the habitation of various animal and bird life which encourage tourism.
How To get there
The Park can be accessed by road 510km from Kampala driving for about 8 hours south west of Uganda to Kisori district. If on a Safari, you can reach Mgahinga national park from Queen Elizabeth NP about 3-4 hours or Lake Mburo NP or Bwindi NP about 5-7 hours. Alternatively, luxury travelers can use a charter a flight to Kisori airstrip and can drive to the park head offices. Also the park can be reached from Rwanda just in one hour crossing from Rwanda to southern Uganda vi the Cyanika border. Then drive to Kisoro town on a rough road and to the park head offices.
Gorilla Tracking in the park
The main activity in this park is gorilla tracking, and the park has one habituated gorilla family ready for tourists to visit. This gorilla family has just recently stabled in the park as it previously used to migrate between the 3 gorilla national parks. Just like in other gorilla parks, Nyakagyezi gorilla family is visited by eight people per day meaning 2 permits are available everyday.Travelers are allowed to spend an hour with the gentle giants rewarding them with an opportunity to enjoy the human like character of mountain gorillas which make them exceptional creatures.
Golden monkey trekking
This is yet another interesting activity that make Mgahinga gorilla national park a distinct destination. To make trekking easy, two communities of golden monkeys have been habituated for trekking a t a cost of 100usd which make it affordable compared to gorilla trekking. unlike gorillas, golden monkeys are lively, playful creatures which continuously jump across trees which make an encounter with them en experience for lifetime.
Besides willdife, Mgahinga gorilla national park is best for Volcano climbing being a centre for three extinct Virunga volcanoes. The national park hosts Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Muhabura all available for hiking. Travelers have a choice on which volcano to climb depending on one’s physical fitness and time. Intrestingly, the park of each volcano reward travelers with spectacular views of the entire Mgahinga park, neighboring countries and local communities which make the experience more enjoyable.
Batwa Cultural trail
A safari to Mgahinga gorilla national park is incomplete without a batwa cultural trail. Endeavor to meet and interact with batwa pygimies who introduce you to their traditional forest life. In the trail, Batwa lead travelers into the forest in which they demonstrate their traditional forest life such as hunting, fruit gathering, collecting honey and performing rituals among others. Taking part in the batwa cultural trail reward travelers with extensive knowledge about these indigenous people, their traditions, norms and beliefs.
Another activities done in Mgahinga gorilla national park include bird watching, mountain biking, forest walks and caving among others which together make complete package to Maghinga and Uganda as a whole.