Mgahinga-Gorilla-National-Park
Experience the one-of-a-kind safari experience of gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. FILE PHOTO
Table of contents: Why Visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Tourists often ask why they should visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga National Park attracts fewer tourists than other national parks, perhaps because visitors are unaware of its grandeur.

Mgahinga National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, roughly 9 to 10 hours by car depending on the route, and is Uganda’s smallest national park, covering up to 33.7 square kilometres. 

It is located in the Kisoro district and is one of four National Parks where mountain gorillas can be observed in their natural habitat. 

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda is the second alternative gorilla location available to travellers after Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

Mgahinga Park is significant biologically because, throughout the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided refuge to mountain flora and animals that travelled up and down the slopes as the temperature changed.

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla-Trekking-in-Mgahinga-National-Park
Explore Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and experience gorilla trekking, an incredible African wildlife safari experience. FILE PHOTO

Visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and enjoy gorilla trekking, a one-of-a-kind and outstanding African wildlife safari experience. Mgahinga National Park is home to a population of mountain gorillas that numbers less than 1004 globally today. 

At Mgahinga National Park, gorilla tracking is limited to the Nyakagezi family, the one habituated and set up for visitor encounters. 

This gorilla group has around nine individuals, including two Silverbacks, and is one of the greatest to explore while on a gorilla safari in Uganda.

Track the Nyakagezi gorilla family and witness thrilling gorilla encounters free of crowds. In comparison to Bwindi or Volcanoes National Parks, Mgahinga National Park only allows eight tourists per day to trek with one habituated gorilla group.

Additionally, it is a viable option for budget gorilla trekking, as visitors pay less than $700 per person for gorilla permits.

Volcano Hiking

mgahinga-Volcano Hiking
An excellent reason to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is volcano trekking. FILE PHOTO

Volcano trekking is an excellent incentive to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This park is part of the Virunga Conservation Area, which includes Volcanoes National Park in northwest Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The eight Virunga Mountain ranges are composed of three volcanoes, all of which are contained within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. 

Hikers on a Ugandan safari to Mgahinga National Park have the option to trek Mount Muhabura (4127 metres), the park’s highest and most difficult volcano, which rewards travellers with stunning views of the park’s picturesque Crater Lake, surrounding landscapes, and numerous birds. 

Sabyinyo Volcano (3645 metres) is frequently referred to as an old man’s teeth due to its shape. Sabyinyo is an indigenous term derived from the word ‘Iryinyo’, which means tooth. 

Three countries’ borders meet at this mountain, and you will find yourself in Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda at the same time. Lastly, Gahinga is located at an elevation of around 3474 metres. 

Mgahinga National Park is named after this volcanic peak. This dormant/extinct volcano is located on the Uganda-Rwanda border. A total climb up and down Mount Gahinga from Ntebeko takes approximately 5 to 6 hours.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is generally characterised by a climate that supports the subalpine zone. This zone is divided into two distinct sections: moorland and Afro-montane belt.  

The vegetation is dominated by ground plants that can survive in quite chilly circumstances. 

Mammals are uncommon at these heights, although small rodents may be spotted scurrying for insects, while butterflies hover above unusual blooms and raptors soar on thermals.

Above the montane forest belt is the bamboo zone, which spans from Mount Sabinyo’s western limit to Gahinga Mountain. The Afro-Alpine belt is defined by enormous Senecio and Lobelia species, both of which are well-known for their presence in quite mountainous locations. 

Additionally, there is the Ericaceous belt, which reaches its peak development on Mt. Muhabura. 

The Bamboo zone: Around 60% of the park is the bamboo zone, which is a preferred habitat for larger mammals. Bamboo is typically found between 1,800m and 3,300m (5,900–10,800ft) in elevation and grows to an average height of 3–4m (10–13ft). 

Herbivores feed heavily on it, and only the hardest shoots survive. Humans rely heavily on bamboo for ropes, beehives, and furniture.

Within the low slopes, this zone is known to host mountain gorillas as well as certain animals that feed on grass.

Golden monkeys

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to magnificent golden monkeys, only a few of which survive today within the Virunga Conservation Area, which is why it is best described as Uganda’s sole spot where gold meets silver. 

Golden monkey trekking is one of the most compelling reasons to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. 

Golden monkeys are one-of-a-kind creatures with golden patches that are well-known for their jumpy characteristics—they leap from a tree branch at a higher rate of speed. 

These primates coexist peacefully alongside the critically endangered mountain gorillas, making Mgahinga National Park a one-of-a-kind primate attraction.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Golden monkeys
Within the Virunga Conservation Area, the majestic Mahahinga Gorilla National Park is home to only a few golden monkeys. FILE PHOTO

Birding

This park is one of the country’s ten most significant birding areas, providing habitat for approximately 115 bird species, including migrating birds that can be seen in April, May, October, and November. 

The white-necked raven, Grey-capped Warbler, Olive pigeon, Double-collared sunbird, waxbills, alpine, Blue-headed Coucal, Archer’s Robi-chat, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pin-tailed whydah, black kite, paradise flycatcher, ibis, speckled mousebirds, Olive woodpecker, Kivu ground thrush, and Rwenzori nightjar are among the different bird species here.

Exploration of the Garama Cave

The 342m-long Garama Cave is located beneath a prominent northern boundary of the park, approximately 3 kilometres from Ntebeko. 

It is located in a former agriculture zone but was once a cave forest that was intermittently occupied by Batwa who used it as a council chamber and retreat.

Another reason to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is to witness the Batwa culture

The Batwa cultural encounter is best conducted at Mgahinga National Park along the Batwa cultural route and allows you to meet with the Batwa, legendary forest dwellers who are thought to have been hunters and gatherers for approximately 500000 years. 

They departed without causing harm to the ecosystem and are now a marginalised group in the vicinity of Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

The Batwa experience allows you to have a better understanding of the Batwa pygmies, their traditions, cultures, and way of life.

There are numerous campers, motels, and lodges in the vicinity of Kisoro and Lake Mutanda. Within the park, there are no constructed hotel facilities. 

Numerous hotel alternatives are available near Ntebeko’s entrances. Depending on the season, hotel and camping reservations should be made well in advance.

To summarise, there are numerous reasons to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda’s unique location where gold meets silver—a home to Silverback Gorillas and Golden Monkeys.

Last but not least, for an all-inclusive tour experience in Uganda, view our guide to Mount Elgon National Park, Murchison Falls National ParkLake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.