Mgahinga 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
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 Parcdes Volcano in Rwanda and Parc de Virungasin 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
The park has an Afro-mantane tropical rainforest, which comprises of a mountane 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.
Gorilla Trekking – Uganda
Here is the most exciting and unforgettable Gorilla Tracking experience in Africa, which takes one through a thick true African jungle. Nyakagezi, the Gorilla group habituates for tracking consists of 9 members; 2 Silver backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.
About 45 Mountain Gorillas use the Mgahinga sector of the Virunga Conservation area seasonally.Gorilla trekking is available here when the gorillas are in the park. They are usually resident in the months of April, May and June and October, November and December although there is no guarantee that the gorillas will be in the park all the time at these times.
Gorilla Tracking Rules
• No one with a communicable disease such as flu, diarrhoea is allowed to enter the park
• Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don not surround them
• Do not use flash lights while photographing the gorillas
• 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 feaces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that the hole is properly covered.
• Do not leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed off properly.
• No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
• Do not make loud noise or move suddenly.
• You are allowed a maximum of 1 hour with the Mountain Gorillas.
• Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park. Use your handkerchief of other garment.
Also to consider
*Wear shoes with good 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.
Mammals of Mgahinga
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a healthy mammal list of up to 76 species recorded, although they are quite elusive in the its vegetation. Among the many include; the Globally and regionally endangered Mountain Gorillas, the globally threatened and endemic to the Albertine Rift- the Golden monkeys, Buffaloes, Elephants, Black-fronted Duikers, Bushbucks, Leopards, Giant Forest Hogs, Side-striped Jackals, Egyptian mongooses, Several cat species, just to mention but a few.
Birding Mgahinga- Uganda
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a 185 bird Checklist, among which include an awesome record of the Albertine Rift endemics and a few restricted species. The eminent are the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu Ground-thrush, name it.
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m)
Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown. This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to peak. If you are to continue the climb to the peak 11 involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda which is a dual states experience you will achieve here. Finally, the hike up to the peak 111 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to peak 111! 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 piles, ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite bigger 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 a good example of a pure 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 8 hours round trip covering 12km.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.
The Batwa (Pygmies) 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 Wild life Authority and they are entitled to 20% of the entrance fees.
The Batwa have a population of 331persons per sq km.
Kisoro is about 540 km (8-9 hours) from Kampala. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.