Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest national park located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district bordering with Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The park was established in 1991 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas and it covers a total area of 33.7 square kilometers which is comprised of tropical rainforest, Afro-montane, Montane woodland and forest.
The park is known for harboring variety of wildlife species including 76 mammals such as forest elephants, buffaloes, bushbucks, black fronted duikers, giant forest hogs, primates like the endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and over 184 bird species such as black kite, Rwenzori turaco, paradise fly catcher, blue headed coucal among others. The park also harbors three Virunga volcanoes namely Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo.
Activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park
The national park is a home of one habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi which is open for trekking on a daily basis. Gorilla trekking is one of the major activities in the park and the activity starts with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking. After the briefing you will start trekking in the jungle with an experienced park guide who is well conversant with different trails to follow.
Trekking of the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga gorilla national park takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on where the gorillas are located because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. During trekking you will be able to view other primate species like l’hoest monkeys, different bird species, plants among others and once the gorillas are found you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat which gives you an opportunity to learn about their behaviors, watch them feed, play, breastfeed, rest, groom young ones, take photos and record videos with a flash less camera.
Golden monkeys trekking
Golden monkey trekking is an interesting and active activity which starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where after you will start trekking in the forest with a park guide following trails of left over bamboo leaves, and flowers. Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park takes about 30 minutes to 3 hours and once the golden monkeys are located you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their environment which gives you a chance to watch them feed, play, jump up in trees, take photos and record the incredible moments.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of more than 184 recorded bird species including forest and migratory bird species. During bird watching which is best done early in the morning or in the afternoon, you will be able to view different bird species like black kite, paradise flycatcher, speckled mounse bird, pin tailed whydah, kivu ground thrush, archers robin-chat, yellow vented bulbul, fire finch stonechat, blue headed coucal, grey capped warbler, kivu ground thrush, dusky crimson wing, Ruwenzori turaco, olive pigeon, Ruwenzori batis, olive woodpecker, red faced woodland warbler, bush shrike, streaky seedeater, brown crowned Tchagra, regal sunbird, handsome francolin among others.
Nature walk/ hiking
Nature walk is an interesting activity where you will be able to explore the park on foot with the company of an experienced park guide and an armed park ranger. During the guided nature walk you will get upclose and personal with different wildlife species including primates like l’hoest monkeys, golden monkeys, animals like forest elephants, giant forest hogs, duikers, variety of bird species, enjoy the cool breeze, listen to sweet sounds of bird species singing up in trees among others.
Batwa trail experience
Batwa trail experience is an exciting activity in Mgahinga gorilla national park where you will get an opportunity to interact with the Batwa/ pygmies who used to live in Mgahinga forest before it was gazetted into a national park. During the Batwa trail experience which is lead by Batwa guides, you will get a chance to learn about their culture, way of living, how they survived in the forest, see medicinal plants that were used to cure different diseases, demonstrate how to make bamboo cups and how the grass thatched huts were constructed, visit the sacred Ngarama cave which was once a food store and a royal residence for the Batwa king, listen to the Batwa women sing sorrowful songs and dance to songs relating to their ancient ways of living.
When to visit Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season Mgahinga forest receives less rainfall therefore access roads and gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable compared to the wet season when the trekking trails are muddy and slippery which makes gorilla trekking or hiking difficult.
Where to stay during your safari in Mgahinga gorilla national park
There are several accommodation facilities where you can stay during your safari in Mgahinga gorilla national park. The accommodations range from budget, midrange and luxury including Mgahinga Rest Camp, Mutanda Lake Resort, Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge, Amajambere Lwacu Camp, Kisoro Travelers Rest Hotel, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mucha Hotel Kisoro, Mount Gahinga Lodge among others.
How to get to Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in southwestern part of Uganda and can be accessed by road transport means whereby you will drive from Entebbe or Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara Kabale, Kisoro and then connect to Ntebeko park headquarters which takes about 9 to 10 hours drive.
You can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda whereby you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to the park headquarters through Cyanika boarder which takes about 3 to 4 hours drive.
The park can as well be accessed by air transport means by booking charter or scheduled flights with Aerolink Uganda from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip and then connect to the park headquarters by road. Domestic flights to Mgahinga gorilla national park can be booked by your tour operator.