This park is known as Uganda’s thinnest among all the 10 national parks situated in Uganda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is seated on an area counting to about 34sqkm. Though its small size, one wouldn’t love to miss adding it on their Uganda adventure since it’s considered one of the greatest Uganda parks. The park is known one of the two Uganda parks to host the endangered mountain gorillas and the golden money which makes it a special destination where “Gold meets Silver”.
This beautiful park is greatly known as an extension of the Virunga Massif (Virunga Conservation Area. The park is geographically located sharing three African boarders countries including Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo all sharing on the inhibits of the forest among some are endemic species including the endangered Mountain Gorillas and the beautiful Golden monkeys and which are the major safari activities carried out in this tinny Mgahinga national park..
Mgahinga National Park was gazatted in 1991 as a National Park and it was majorly reserved to protect the endangered mountain gorillas which were at the edge of annihilation by then. Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the only endemic habitats for the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda.
The overlooking conical peaks, dense tropics or rich biodiversity describe the geographical nature of Mgahinga. Before it was gazatted as a park, the park was occupied by the Batwa Pygmies who co-lived with other forest dwellers including the mountain gorillas. But when concern to conserve the gorillas for their future, then these people were evicted by the government from their ancestral land without any compensation consideration.
Gorillas in Mgahinga national park are not so much reliable as gorillas can easily cross boarders to Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo since they are at the borders sharing the forest hence making their encountering so difficult. However, the park has one habituated gorilla family known as Nyakagezi gorilla family which is readily available for trekking on a daily basis and it offers highest chances of meeting the species.
How to access Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the parks which is located in the south western part of Uganda at the far ends in Kisoro districts where Uganda share borders with Rwanda and the DRC. Apart from kidepo valley national park, Mgahinga national park is one of the most distanced parks in the country from the capital of Kampala covering a distance of about 9 hours driver from the capital city Kampala via Masaka- Mbarara- Kabale- Kisoro on the road drive, and 1 and half hours from Kajansi to Kihihi airstrip Kisoro by air and take a 1hr drive to the park. One can easily access the park from Rwanda, in that you fly to Kigali international airport and drive crossing Kyanika border to Uganda. The drive can last for about 4hrs drive from Kigali capital, though may have some delaying connecting from the border.
Activities done at do at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Gorilla trekking safaris
If one talks of gorilla trekking in Uganda, many people’ mind rush to Mgahinga gorilla forest national park and bwindi impenetrable forest national park as they are the only two parks in Uganda where gorillas are hosted. Gorilla trekking is the highlight of all African adventures, few tourist leave uganda minus a one hour encounter these endangered mountain gorillas and gorilla trekking has positioned to be the most inspiring adventure to undertake. Trekking gorillas at Mgahinga is an extension of the Virunga Massif, which joins Uganda with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of DRC. However, trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in Mgahinga forest is at least hectic compared to that of Bwindi forest which is somehow easy to find. However if one needs the most challenging and interesting experience Mgahinga is the best gorilla trekking destination to go with the most limited trekking daily chances.
Only one gorilla family exists in the park meaning that only eight people are allowed to trek the gorillas on a daily basis. One is advised to make a gorilla permit booking in advance at least 1-3 months prior to your arrival to avoid last minutes booking which is sometimes disappointing. The trekking trail here in Mgahinga gorilla forest national park are very challenging due to raised altitude of the park as the trekking can continue through the slopes and the hikes of the forest before encountering the gorillas. The trek can last to over 4 hours in accordance to where the apes are located on the trek and once the gorillas are met, only one hours is allowed to stay with them. Mountain gorilla tracking costs US$700 and mountain gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga sector of bwindi national park goes for US$1500 and all fees are based on per permit.
Golden monkey tracking
Apart from mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking is another thrilling adventure one should think of when visited Mgahinga gorilla forest national park. Mgahinga is the only endemic forest where you can meet these endangered Golden Monkeys. The existence of mountain gorilla and golden monkey in the same natural setting makes the park to be nicknamed a place where ‘Gold meets Silver’. Golden monkeys are also endangered as they are rarely seen and they live in communities called troops and they tend to wander for longer distances a day but the golden monkeys here are fully habituated to ensure that trackers have the wondrous encounter on their tracking trail. Here at Mgahing gorilla forest national park, there are three habituated golden monkey communities and the chances to meet them is on a daily basis. Like mountain gorillas, not like mountain gorillas, more hours are allowed to stay with the Golden monkey ounce they are met and only 8 members are allowed to trek daily. Golden monkey tracking costs US$60 and Golden monkey habituation experience goes for US$100.
The Batwa people are known among the few uncounted real native ethnic people in Uganda. Commonly known as the Batwa pygmies who lived in the forest of Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable forests national park for more than 5000 years before where forcefully evicted from their ancestral forests without compensation by the government in the name of gorilla conservation. These by 1991, almost lost it all in life, however, human rights advocates worked so hard to ensure that these people gain back their rights of living as citizens of the country. In the last past years, the Batwa have stood to use their culture which almost dwindling to sell it to the world, and once you visit their natural homes, they will entertain you through their tales, dances, daily activity engagements including bee keeping among others. Once here at Mgahinga please don’t hesitate to visit their homes and in case of any help rendered to them is high appreciated to improve their standard of living.
Since Maghinga gorilla forest national park is part of Massif, its with no doubt made of the three volcano chain of Muhavura, Sabinyo and Gahinga. Being situated in the rift valley, Mgahinga proposes on of the famous and fantastic hiking trails in the country. These three volcanoes are raised on an altitude range to 4127m, 3669m and 3474m respectively. They are so challenging to hike but once you are at the top you will feel the world. The highest peak of Mahavuran and the most famous and trekked volcano is the Sabinyo volcano which strategically located on borders of the countries of the Virunga Massif and reaching at the peak of the Sabinyo volcano then know you’re standing on the borders of the three countries and overlooking in each of the countries.
Not only that, but still while at the park you can do nature walks, Bird among others