Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a protected area located in southwestern Uganda, near the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Established in 1991 and covers an area of about 33.7 square kilometers and it is the smallest national park in Uganda. The park is known for its mountain gorillas, but it also has other attractions including volcanoes, diverse wildlife, and cultural experiences.
The park is part of the Virunga Mountains, a range of volcanoes that also extends into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga is home to three of the eight Virunga volcanoes: Mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Muhabura. Visitors can hike to the top of these mountains, which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including over 76 mammal species and 115 bird species. In addition to mountain gorillas, other primate species found in the park include golden monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys. The park is identified as , where silver meets gorillas because of its outstanding population of mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.
Cultural experiences are also available in Mgahinga. The Batwa people, who were displaced from the forest when it was declared a national park, offer cultural tours that provide insight into their traditional way of life. Visitors can learn about Batwa hunting techniques, medicinal plants, and their music and dance, history while following the Batwa trail.
Gorilla trekking is the main attraction in Mgahinga. The park has one habituated gorilla family, which can be visited by a limited number of visitors each day. Gorilla trekking permits can be obtained through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a tour operator.
In addition to gorilla trekking, the park offers other activities for visitors, including bird watching, hiking, and cultural tours.
Like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park faces several challenges, including habitat loss due to human encroachment and poaching. Conservation efforts, including the establishment of community-based conservation programs and ecotourism initiatives, are ongoing to protect the park’s biodiversity and the livelihoods of the communities that depend on it.
The best time to visit Mgahinga National Park in Uganda is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February. During this time, the weather is generally dry and sunny, making it easier to explore the park and view wildlife. Additionally, the gorilla trekking experience is typically better during the dry season, as the trails are less muddy and easier to navigate.
However, Mgahinga National Park can be visited all year round. The wet season, which runs from March to May and October to November, can offer a unique experience with lush greenery and beautiful scenery. However, trekking during this season can be more challenging due to the muddy and slippery trails.
It’s important to note that gorilla trekking permits are limited and can sell out quickly, so it’s recommended to book in advance. Additionally, the park can get crowded during peak season, so visitors should plan accordingly.
Mgahinga National Park in Uganda is not just a destination for gorilla trekking. There are several other activities that visitors can enjoy while in the park. Here are some of the things to do in Mgahinga National Park:
Mgahinga National Park is one of the few places in Africa where visitors can track the endangered golden monkeys. The monkeys are playful and entertaining to watch, and tracking them is a unique and rewarding experience.
Mgahinga National Park is a great destination for hiking and nature walks. There are several trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels that offer visitors the opportunity to explore the park’s beautiful scenery and wildlife.
The Batwa people are the indigenous people of the forest and have lived in the area for thousands of years. Visitors can take a cultural trail to learn about their history, way of life, and traditional practices.
Mgahinga National Park is home to over 180 bird species, including several endemic species such as the Rwenzori turaco and the kivu ground thrush. Visitors can enjoy bird watching and identify different species with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
The Park is home to three volcanoes, namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo. Visitors can take a guided trek up one of these volcanoes for a challenging and rewarding experience, with incredible views from the top.
Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and scenic canoe or kayak ride on Lake Mutanda, located near the park. The lake is surrounded by stunning landscapes and offers great opportunities for bird watching.
These are just a few of the activities that visitors can enjoy while in Mgahinga National Park.
Mgahinga National Park in Uganda offers a range of accommodation options for visitors, including lodges, campsites, and guesthouses. Here are some of the places to consider staying in while visiting Mgahinga National Park:
This lodge offers comfortable and spacious rooms, with stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes. The lodge also has a restaurant, bar, and spa.
This campsite is run by the Batwa community and offers visitors a unique and authentic cultural experience. Visitors can stay in traditional huts and participate in cultural activities such as dance performances and storytelling.
Located near the park, this resort offers luxurious accommodation with beautiful views of Lake Mutanda. The resort has a restaurant, bar, and spa, and offers a range of activities such as canoeing and bird watching.
This historic hotel is located in Kisoro, a town near the park. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, bar, and garden, and has a rich history of hosting famous visitors such as Dian Fossey.
This budget-friendly hotel is located in Kisoro town and offers comfortable and affordable rooms. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, and garden.
These are just a few of the accommodation options available in and around Mgahinga National Park. Recommended to book in advance, especially during peak season, to ensure availability.