MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park and it is situated in the extreme Southwestern Uganda, approximately 9-10 hours’ drive from Kampala. It is named after Mount Gahinga and it attained its status as a national park in 1991 mainly to offer refuge to a section of rare mountain gorillas. The park occupies an area of only 33.7sq.kms and lies between elevation 2227 and 4127 meters.
Aside from gorillas, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also hosts 3 of the 8 magical Virunga Volcanoes; Mount Gahinga, Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo. It makes up part of the extensive Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) which also covers the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda.
Wildlife in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is an outstanding safari destination anyone on Uganda safari should consider a must-visit. The numerous wildlife to explore in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include rare mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, bushbucks, forest elephants, forest buffaloes and many more.
Birdlife in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
About 115 bird species exist in Mgahinga National Park. While on a birding tour in this park, the birds to look out for include fire finch stonechat, speckled mousebirds, paradise flycatcher, double collared sunbird, white-necked raven, yellow vented bulbul, waxbills, grey capped warblers, Rwenzori turacos, Ruwenzori nightjars, Ruwenzori batis, olive woodpecker, Kivu ground thrush, dusky crimson wing, archer’s robin chat, blue-headed Coucal, white starred robins, cinnamon bracken, stripped breasted tit, malachites, greater double collared sunbirds, scarlet tufted to mention but a few. Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is perfectly done in April, Mid-May and October, November. Migratory birds can be spotted from November to April.
- Other attractions to visit in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is comprised of three Virunga Volcanoes; Mount Sabyinyo which rises about 3674 meters, Gahinga Volcano 3474 meters and Mount Muhabura 4127 meters. Garama caves which extend about 200m long, are a sacred place of the Batwa pygmies. The caves are 4kms away from Ntebeko Park Offices.
Activities to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Gorilla trekking
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the 4 parks where mountain gorilla trekking is done in Uganda. Treks to see mountain gorillas in this park are done in the Nyakagezi gorilla family which is the only habituated family set for tourism purposes although Hirwa has now joined to make them two.
To track mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park, you should have a valid gorilla permit. Each permit in Uganda is obtainable at $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and Shs.250000 for the East African citizens. Please it is important that these prices run up to 30th June 2020 and beginning 1st July 2020 to 2022, each gorilla trekking permit in Uganda will cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and Shs.250000 for East African citizens. To book your gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, Rwanda, simply get in touch with the reservation team at Mega Wild Safaris.
- Golden monkey tracking
Tracking golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park is such a thrilling experience worth taking part in Uganda safari. Golden monkeys are some of the unique primates and trekking to see them in the wild offers a memorable experience.
- Volcano hiking
A visit to Mgahinga National Park while on Uganda safari isn’t only about trekking mountain gorillas but also for you to hike some of its scenic volcanoes. The best volcanoes to climb and challenge yourself are Sabyinyo Mountain which rises about 366m. The word Sabyinyo denotes the old man’s teeth. This volcano features three amazing peaks to explore each offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding areas.
Gahinga volcano stands 3474m and locally denotes small piles of stones. Hiking to the scenic summits of this volcano can last you 6 hours. Muhabura Volcano is another stunning Virunga Volcano which is within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Hikes through this volcano can take you about 9 hours for you to cover 12kms.
- Bird watching
Mgahinga National Park prides itself as an outstanding birding safari destination. The different birds to identify here include speckled mousebirds, paradise flycatcher, double collared sunbird, white-necked raven, yellow vented bulbul, waxbills, grey capped warblers, Rwenzori turacos, blue-headed Coucal, white starred robins, cinnamon bracken, stripped breasted tit, malachites, greater double collared sunbirds, Ruwenzori nightjars, Ruwenzori batis, olive woodpecker, Kivu ground thrush, dusky crimson wing, archer’s robin chat.
- Nature walks
Nature walks in Mgahinga National Park are carried out in Rugezi Swamp and the bamboo forest. On a nature walk, don’t miss the incredible view over the scenic Lake Mutanda, birds, farmlands and many more.
Cultural encounter in Mgahinga National Park involves exploring the Batwa trail where you will have the opportunity to interact with the Batwa pygmies, learn about their ancient hunting and gathering techniques.
- When to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Due to favorable weather and climatic conditions, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is open to visitors on Uganda safari throughout the year. The best time to visit the park may depend on your travel needs and what you may consider the best time may turn to be the worst for another person. However, gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking and volcano hiking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are best conducted in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. Birding can be best done in March, April, May, and October, November.
- Where to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The lodges to choose for your night stay in Mgahinga National Park include Mount Mgahinga Rest Camp, Mount Mgahinga Lodge, Travelers Nest Hotel and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.
- How to access Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga National Park is located in the Kisoro district and it is accessible by road or by air. By road, you need 9-10 hours to drive from Entebbe or Kampala to the park and 3-4 hours to drive from Kigali. A 4×4 drive safari vehicle is more preferable for you to navigate through the hilly side of Kisoro to Mgahinga National Park.
By air, there are flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip not far from the park.
In conclusion, a visit to Mgahinga Gorilla Park will not only reward you with trekking mountain gorillas but will also engage in other incredible activities including golden monkey tracking, birding, volcano hiking, cultural encounter and many more.
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