Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest and probably most scenic National Park. It is situated at the extreme South-Western corner of the country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to include Parc des Volcano in Rwanda and Parc de Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct Volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area.
The park comprises of three parts of volcanic mountains, Mt. Muhavura (4127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3475 m) and Mt. Sabyinyo (3645 m). Gahinga is the lowest of these mountains and has given the park its name. This north-eastern part of the Virunga range seems to be extinct, but two western volcanoes on the Congo side are active and erupt every two years
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Vegetation
The park has an Afro-montane tropical rainforest, which comprises of a montane forest belt with 60% bamboo, which is a delicacy for the Mountain Gorillas. Others found are Lobelia, Haegenic stretching into an ericaceous belt, and an alpine zone.
Here is the most exciting and unforgettable Gorilla trekking experience in Africa, which takes one through a thick actual African jungle.
About 45 Mountain Gorillas use the Mgahinga sector of the Virunga Conservation area seasonally.
Uganda Gorilla Trekking Rules
• No one with the infectious disease for example flu, diarrhoea is allowed to enter the park
• Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, do not surround them
• Do not use flashes while photographing
• Do not eat or smoke when with the gorillas
• Turn away from the gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose in the process
• Bury all human faeces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that the hole is adequately covered.
• Do not leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed of properly.
• The activity is for 15 years and over
• Do not make a loud noise or move suddenly
• You are allowed a maximum of 1 hour with gorillas
• Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park. Use your hankie or other garments.
Also to consider
*Wear shoes with excellent traction, suitable for steep muddy slopes.
*Carry rain gear, sunscreen and a hut, as the weather is unpredictable.
*Carry water and food
*Carry binoculars, you will see much more, you can hire from the park office
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Mammals
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a good mammal list of over seventy-six, although they are quite elusive in its vegetation. Among the many includes; the Globally and regionally endangered Mountain Gorillas, the globally threatened and endemic to the Albertine Rift- Golden monkeys, Buffaloes, Elephants, Black-fronted duiker, Bushbuck, Leopard, Giant forest hog, Side-striped Jackal, Egyptian mongoose, Several cat species among others.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a 185 bird Checklist, among which include an impressive record of the Albertine Rift endemics and a few restricted species. The eminent is the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Stuhllman’s Sunbird, Kivu Ground-thrush, name it.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Volcano Climbing
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m)
Like an older man, the time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown. This volcano offers three challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the rise to the summit. If you are to continue the mountain to the peak, it involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda which is the experience of a dual state you will achieve here. Finally, the hike up to the peak is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling.
You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to the peak! Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, what a triple experience this is! The journey takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
On your way to the park, look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such collections, ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite more prominent than the average ‘gahinga’ but sitting next to Mount Muhavura does make it look small. A hike, which takes you about, six hours round trip, goes through an excellent example of the real Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush swamp. Distance to the swamp is 8km.
Mt. Muhavura (4127m)
Seen from all over Kisoro, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately eight hours round trip covering twelve kilometres. You are advised to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before. The site has no facilities so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Local People
The Batwa who once lived in the caves and fed on wildlife have been allowed to settle in this area in accordance to the law of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and they are entitled to 20% of the entrance fees.
The Batwa have a population of 331 persons per sq km.
Kisoro is about 540 km (8-9 hours) from Kampala. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Size: 33.7 sq km
- District: Kisoro
- Geographical location: In the south-western corner of Uganda bordering Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- Altitude: to 4,127m
- Mountain Gorilla Trekking
- Bird watching
- Golden Monkey Tracking
- Volcano Climbing