Mgahinga Gorilla National Park one of the prominent parks in Uganda. It is located in the South western part of Uganda, about 15 km south of Kisoro town and 55 km west of Kabale.
Gazzeted in 1991, Mgahinga is home to the three volcanic mountains that are shared with other two parks in the Virunga massif such as Virunga National Park of DR Congo and Volcanoes of Rwanda. These volcanoes are mount Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Mount Muhabura.
Mgahinga National Park with Virunga and Volcanoes of Rwanda form the Virunga Conservation Area which covers a total area of 434 square kilometers.
Its 33.9 square kilometers is occupied by the tropical rainforests, bamboo forests, and Afromontane forests of the Albertine Rift Eco region.
It experiences two rainy seasons including February to May and September to December. The average monthly rainfall vary from 10 mm to 250 mm.
Apart from Bwindi, tourists see Gorillas in Mgahinga. This park is also a great home the Golden monkey primates and other wildlife species.
Getting to the Park.
From Kampala, it’s about 510 km to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park via Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara highway. Starting from Kampala, it’s about 434 km to Kabale and the drive takes about eight hours.
From Kabale, you continue with the 76 km journey to Kisoro town. The Park’s main entrance “Ntebeko” is 14 km from Kisoro.
You can also access Mgahinga National Park from Bwindi on the Buhoma side. From this sector, it takes about four hours to get there by car.
If not road, you can go by air transport. Private charters start from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe airport to Kisoro airfield. These charters are arranged on request and make sure to book in advance.
Activities done in the Park
This is a great experience you should not ignore in Mgahinga. It starts with a morning briefing conducted at park headquarters Ntebeko. After the journey to the jungle starts in a group with a ranger guide following the permanently established trails.
After locating them, you are allowed to be in their presence for only one hour while seeing them playing, feeding, laughing or constructing some temporary shelters.
Mgahinga has one Gorilla family and only a group of eight people is allowed to meet these apes daily.
Golden Monkey Tracking
This is another fascinating activity to do in Mgahinga National Park. Like Mountain Gorilla Trekking, the adventure starts with a briefing in the morning to highlight trackers on what to and what not to do while in the Jungle. These primates reside in the mountainous bamboo forest areas.
There are so jumpy, those interested in photos are advised to set their cameras on fast shutter shot speed and move slowly while in the jungle.
Hiking in Mgahinga
Mgahinga is an ideal destination for hiking adventures. It has three summits that are available for the expeditions such as Mount Muhavura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga.
Of the three, Muhabura is the highest standing at 4127m. Its hiking to the top takes about eight hours covering 12 km through the lush vegetation, rolling hills, and more.
The adventure rewards hikers with awe-inspiring views of Lake Edward, peaks of Rwenzori Mountains and the stretching Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
Mountain Sabyinyo stands at a height of 3669m. Travelers know it for its strenuous steep ridge of 14 km.
The third summit is Mount Gahinga at 3474 m high. The climbing trail to the peak pass through bamboo forested areas where sights of Golden monkeys are common.
Batwa Trail Experience.
This is a must for culture addicts. The experience was introduced after the Batwa people were evicted from the Park areas. These people used dense forests in Mgahinga as source for their food, medicine and shelter.
After eviction, some were retained in the Park to operate on this trail experience as guides. Tourists taking this excursion immerse themselves into the real life and culture of the Batwa.
It includes demonstration of various hunting skills, gathering of honey, artworks such as bamboo cups, baskets and more.
After, tourists visit the Garama cave. From here they perform different cultural ceremonies to memorialize that ancient period.
The funds collected from this activity support in paying part to the guides and the rest donated to the community.