Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Uganda the pearl of Africa is blessed with half of the total mountain gorillas living in the whole world and the mountain gorillas in Uganda can be watched or viewed in the two national parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga national park. Despite of the various tourism activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park, gorilla tracking is the most popular adventure taken in the park. Most visitors who visit the park  enjoy mountain gorilla trekking in the bamboo forest lands of park within the habituated gorilla group.

Mgahinga national park has only one gorilla group which can be trekked by visitors who take safaris in Uganda.The name of the gorilla group habituated in the park is the Nyakagezi gorilla family. This gorilla family is identified as “roaming” and “adventurous” because this group keeps on rotating between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. However for the past two years, the gorilla family is currently said to have settled in the Uganda side of Mgahinga national park and hence tourists can easily visit the park to have an encounter with this gorilla family.

Gorilla trekking activities in Mgahinga Gorilla Park begin from Ntebeko Entrance early in the morning (8:00am). Like other habituated gorilla groups, only a total of 8 tourists are accepted and authorized to visit the Nyakagezi family. Gorilla trekking roughly takes two to four hours of walking and hiking the hills while looking for the interesting gorillas. When visitors meet the gorillas,they are allowed to spend only one hour with the gorillas. The interaction between the tourists and the gorillas is minimal given that there is need to protect the gorillas from human interference. but at distance and the experience one gets from the encounter is unexplainable.

For tourists planning to undertake gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda especially to Mgahinga should be in consideration that the recommendable time for gorilla trekking is mainly during the two dry seasons because during this time the routes are passable and even trekking trails are not slippery and hence visitor can easily move in the forest while searching for the primates .The dry month are Mid-December to month of February as well as June to October.The only advantage of trekking gorillas in Uganda is that one can do it any time through the year.

Participating in gorilla trekking tours and safaris in Uganda offer one the chance of understanding the characters of the mountain gorilla. Interesting to know is that each and every day of gorilla starts at 6 am and usually ends in evening especially 6:00pm and then they rest waiting for the next day.Gorillas move in social groups and their diet is mainly made up of leaves, shrubs of bamboo forests, roots, flowers among others. Trekking gorillas is more impressing and exciting and hence each visit should plan to visitor any gorilla families in Uganda.

What to see and do in Mgahinga National park

Regardless of its small size, there are more than 39 species of mammals in this Park with the popular being the captivating mountain gorillas. There are 80 mountain gorillas that are estimated to be in Mgahinga National Park and there is only one gorilla group (Nyakagezi group) to be tracked by tourists. This Park is the only place where tourists can see and track the golden monkeys in Uganda (hence id the only place where “silver meets Gold”. Other mammals that tourists are likely to encounter include Elephants, Buffaloes, serval cats, Giant Forest Hogs, Side stripped jackals and Spotted Hyenas. 79 species of birds also exist and they include Crowned hornbill, Rwenzori Turacco, Yellow-billed Kite and Grey crowned crown Crane. The small size of the Park is also to its advantage because it is easier for tourists to spot the wild animals.

The existence of the three volcanoes such as Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo makes Mgahinga a perfect destination for tourists interested in Mountain/volcano climbing and mountain biking. other activities tourists can engage in include gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, golden monkey habituation experience, the Batwa trail (Mgahinga is the best destination to exploit the Batwa cultural experience), birding and nature walks/forest hikes.

The park offers opportunities to birders to do what they love best, with a bird list ranging between 179 and 184 species including the Rwenzori Turaco and the White-starred Robin. Safaris and Tours to Uganda’s Mgahinga National park also present opportunities to meet a number of uncommonly seen species like the giant forest hogs, and the spikey South African Porcupines.

Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park

But the park’s horn is sounded louder by its only habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyakagezi. Led by an alpha silverback called Mark, who personally loves to travel, the Nyakagezi mountain gorilla family makes seasonal excursions to the neighboring countries of Congo DR and Rwanda. But fortunately, of recent, the family seems to enjoy their Ugandan home more and can therefore support successful Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda. Its unsettled nature has forced the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to sell gorilla permits for this mountain gorilla family at the national park.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga is a less tedious process if compared to its sister National Park Bwindi. Like in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a maximum of eight (8) tourists is permitted to visit this gorilla family per day. And once the treasure hunt is done tourists can enjoy a full hour with the Nyakagezi family. The family’s two black backs (Rukundo and Ndungutse) often win the hearts of visitors with their high sense of humor and their photogenic nature. It has become their thing to pose for the camera.

Today the family has 10 members including an aging Bugingo who is the father to most members of this mountain gorilla family including Mark and Mafia the other two silverbacks.

Embark on a a gorilla safari to see the mountain gorillas, the sliver of the forest and you will win yourself an experience of a lifetime decorated in awesome views of true African montane forests sheltering an abundant number of mammalian and bird species; not forgetting the bonus of intermingling with the legendary Batwa community; one of the world’s few remaining highly disregarded and marginalized groups of people. With the Park’s “gold and silver”, you will depart highly illuminated; nice and shiny. Welcome to Mgahinga!

Where to Stay While At Mgahinga National Park

There are several accommodation facilities in and around Mgahinga National Park and as far as Kisoro Town. The facilities include Mount Gahinga Safari lodge, Amajyembere Iwacu Camp, Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mutanda Lake Resort, Mutanda Eco-Community Center, Virunga Hotel and Campsite, Golden Monkey Guesthouse and Countryside Guesthouse Kisoro among others.

How to Access Mgahinga National Park

This magnificent is situated about 336 miles/8-10 hours drive from Kampala City. It is about 9.3 miles by road South of Kisoro town and about 34 miles west of Kabale town. This Park can e be accessed by both Road and air transport. Domestic flights can be organized be eagle air from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe Airport to Kisoro town. The commonest route used by tourists is Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale-Mgahinga or Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale-Kisoro-Mgahinga National Park.

Based on the interesting attractions in Mgahinga National Park including the 39 species of mammals such as the rare Mountain gorillas, the endangered golden monkeys,  elephants, buffaloes and striped hyenas and over 79 species of birds, Mgahinga is an important tourist destination any tourist who visits Uganda should not miss.