Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a unique and not your ordinary Uganda safari destination where travelers would expect to chill in the comfort of a safari car or boat cruise and explore the wilderness. Mgahinga is a do-it-yourself, thrilling adventure destination located extreme southwest of Uganda in Kisoro district, the heart of Virunga volcanic mountains zone. Mgahinga gorilla national park at 33.7km2 surface area is the smallest park in Uganda, but very rich in diversity with unique ecosystem and of paramount ecological value.
The colonial government made Mgahinga a game sanctuary in 1930 and was formerly a national park 1991. The Mgahinga national park mountainous terrain ranges 2,227m- 4,127m in altitude with three outstanding extinct volcanoes; Gahinga, Muhabura and Sabinyo rising into the skies. Mgahinga is an extension of the Virunga ecosystem that crosses international borders into Volcanoes national park, Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. There is a particular spot on one of the volcanic mountain summit, where the three African countries meet. Much of the Virungas and almost entire of Mgahinga national park is rainforest vegetation at a relatively high altitudinal level. Daily climatic conditions are generally cold with 140c average temperatures. March- April, September- November are the wettest months when much of vegetation is green. These factors have a big effect in influencing climatic and weather patterns of the surrounding areas. Note the volcanic soils are rich in plant mineral content and with favorable climatic conditions plant growths goes on year round. It is not easy to spot ground mammals because of enclosed vegetation and mountainous terrain, but forest elephants, buffalos, warthogs, giant forest hogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, duikers and many primate species are resident in Mgahinga.
The Nyakagezi Mountain gorilla family is the legendary trademark and magnet that attracts most travelers on Uganda safaris to Mgahinga gorilla national park. The Nyakagezi gorilla family though “Ugandan” keeps rotating beyond international boundaries into Rwanda and DR Congo. Visitors trekking mountain gorillas hike to and assemble at Ntobeko tourism centre by 7.30am for briefing about gorilla trekking regulations.
The rainforest of Mgahinga are home to a rare primate species; the Golden monkey. This beautiful monkey with a silver /gold band of fur is endemic to the Virunga volcanic region. Like the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys face similar challenges; loss of habitat and threat to their livelihood. Tracking golden monkeys is almost similar to gorilla trekking where rangers lead visitors to traverse the wilderness walking in fresh footprints of golden monkeys. However, the golden monkeys have particular home range in which they wander as they feed.
Mgahinga gorilla national is a unique habitat with rainforest, swamp, bamboo zone and alpine vegetation. Each vegetation zone is home to rare bird species that traverse the entire Virunga volcano ranges. Mgahinga gorilla national park is an Important Bird Area in Uganda and dream destination for bird watching safari.
Volcano climbing to the summit of the volcanic mountains is popular with travelers seeking the thrill and extra ways of adventure on tour of Uganda. Each of the three iconic volcanoes in Mgahinga gorilla national park is unique in its own way. Visitors who climb to any of the summits get rewards of magnificent views of the lowlands as well as rest of the Virunga volcanoes, Rwenzoris, Lake Edward and many beautiful sightings in the background. The volcano climbing is very appropriate for photography and filming safaris. Brief walks into the wilderness taking a few hours are possible for visitors with limited time, body disabilities or in need of sampling the wilderness experiences.
Many travelers on Uganda safari to Mgahinga gorilla national park visit the indigenous community homesteads to share life experiences. The communities around the park engage in subsistence agriculture; tilling the fertile volcanic soils to grow food crops for home consumption and surplus for sale. The Batwa are a unique community, the last human race in Uganda to live in the rainforest and share habitat with wildlife. On tour of Batwa homestead, the travelers visit the caves in the forests where the Batwa lived and drama act mock hunting expeditions. The Batwa have a unique traditional lifestyle where they use of natural and organic items in their everyday life.
Uganda safaris into Mgahinga go on through the year, but you are much better in dry seasons Dec-Feb, May-Aug. Kisoro town 530km by road from Kampala City is the nearest town to Mgahinga gorilla national park. The road network from Kampala-Mbarara-Kabale-Kisoro town is smooth tarmac taking 9 hours drive. Ntobeko tourism office is 15km from Kisoro town on dirt road. Kisoro town is 9km from Chanika border post to Rwanda and 7km from Bunagana border post to DR Congo. There is a large airfield in the outskirts of Kisoro town for medium aircraft. Scheduled flights make regular landing at the airfield.
- Luxury hotels
- Kisoro town