Mgahinga National Park Uganda

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Mgahinga National Park, Uganda Gorilla trekking, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The park is situated in Kisoro a district in Uganda’s far south-west. It is Uganda’s smallest National Park (33.7 square kilometers), and lies in the coordinates of 01°22′S 29°39′E. Mgahinga experiences two (2) wet seasons (February to May and September to December every year). The biggest rains are in October (250mm) and the least showers are received in July (10mm).The park is only fifteen (15) kilometers by road, south of Kisoro town and about fifty five (55) kilometers, away from Kabale, which is the biggest town in the sub-region.

golden-monkey-gorillas-mgahingaMgahinga was declared a game sanctuary in 1930 by the British administration and a National park in 1991, and it has always provided a home to a number of exceptional biomes including its only habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyakagyezi and the endangered Golden Monkeys. The park is under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which is the governing body for all Uganda’s National Parks. Despite this group’s periodic migrations to the neighboring counties of Rwanda and Congo DR, tracking gorillas in thick jungle continues to be Mgahinga’s most exhilarating and memorable activity. It is hard to explain how awesome a feeling it is when you come eye to eye with the muscular mountain gorillas especially the silverbacks (male gorillas).
The park has a long list of bird species (over 179 bird species). The list includes the Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-capped Warbler, and Speckled Mouse bird, Rwenzori Turaco, White-napped Raven, Paradise Fly-catcher, and the Rwenzori Nightjar. Mgahinga is also a home to seventy six (76) species of mammals including the bushbucks, elephants, the South African porcupines and the giant forest hogs. Though many of the park’s other mammals are not easily seen, when encountered they provide awesome scenes for the camera. Read More about Mgahinga National Park

  • Mountain Gorillas

gorillas-in-mgahinga

The park is home to an itinerant habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyagkagezi which frequently crosses over to the neighboring countries of Congo DR and Rwanda. Currently this is a family of ten (10) with Mark as the alpha silverback. In the past, this group was led by Bugiingo who today is way over 50 years; but is also the dad to many of the members in this family. The group also has juveniles called Nkanda and Furaha, females called Nyiramwiza and Nshuti. The group has quite a big number of silverbacks including Mark, Bugiingo, Maria and Matthew; and two (2) blackbacks called Ndungutse and Rukundo who often entertain tourists with their enthusiasm and playful nature.

  • Birds

birds-mgahinga-national-park

Mgahinga’s varied wetlands provide shelter to over 180 bird species including twelve (12) species which tourists will not get the opportunity to see anywhere else but in the Albertine Rift Valley Area. Bird species include Blue-headed Coucal, Pin-tailed Whydah, Dusky Crimsonwing and Shelley’s Crimsonwing, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Regal Sunbird, Rwenzori Turaco, Speckled Mousebird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, White-starred Robin, Grey-capped Warbler, Paradise Fly-catcher, Rwenzori Nightjar, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Rwenzori Batis, Wax Bills, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Strip-breasted Tit, Doherty’s Bush-shrike and  the Firefinch.

  • Other wildlife

wildlife-mgahinga

The park has over 76 mammalian species including the South African porcupines, 60 habituated Golden Monkeys which are part of the 3000-4000 endangered golden monkeys of the Virunga Conservation Area; the giant forest hogs, elephants, forest buffaloes, bush pigs, golden cats, duikers and the side striped jackal. These mammals are not easily seen, but form part of the park’s biome diversity.

  • The wild vegetation

The park’s beautiful vegetation changes with altitude and is very appealing to the eye.  The lower altitudes of the park are composed of grassland together with forest vegetation.  The next level has stunning montane woodland followed by the segmented bamboo vegetation zone well known for accommodating the incredible golden monkeys; followed by montane forest and then peaked by the Ericaceous zone which has giant tree heathers. The topmost zone of Mgahinga is covered in plant species that cannot be seen elsewhere but in the East African highlands that rise to 3000m above sea level.

  • Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

mgahinga-gorilla-trekking

Mgahinga’s habituated Mountain Gorilla family is something to see while on a Uganda Safari and tour. Gorilla permits are currently purchased at the park because of the migrating nature of its only habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyakagezi. The group currently has ten (10) members who can be seen by only eight (8) people per day for one (1) hour utmost. Gorilla tracking starts in the morning at 08:00am. The trek lasts between two (2) and eight (8) hours and is done under the guidance of a ranger guide. Tourists are permitted to take photos but without a flash. In the peak seasons, the gorilla permits go for only 600$ and in the low seasons prices are as low as 350$ for foreign nonresidents (FNR); and 500$ and 250$ in the peak and low seasons respectively for foreign residents (FR). East African Citizens pay 150,000 Uganda Shillings in the low season and 250,000 Uganda Shillings in the high season.

  • Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

birds-mgahinga-national-park

With a long bird list of over 178 bird species Mgahinga Gorilla National Park provides awesome birding experiences. The key birding spots are the Gahinga and Sabinyo Mountains and the Buffalo wall that protects the park’s boarders and the neighboring farmlands. The birding experience lasts between three (3) and four (4) hours highlighting bird species like the Dusky turtle dove, Cape Robin-chat, Rwenzori Turaco, Regal sunbird and the olive thrush; just to mention a few. The experience is more enjoyable under the leadership of a ranger guide who can make the bird identification a simpler process.

  • Mountain Hiking/Climbing in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

mount mgahinga hikeThis park also offers the opportunity to engage in mountain climbing for interested tourists. Summiting the park’s three majestic peaks of Gahinga (3,474m), Sabinyo (3,669m) and Muhavura (4,127m) provides dazzling views of the surrounding forests, hills, Lake Edward and parts of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The hikes are not that tedious and tourists don’t need very complicated equipment, but just an average level of fitness. The hike in the Gahinga mountain lasts about six (6) hours; Muhavura eight (8) hours and seven (7) hours for Sabinyo.

  • Guided Nature walks.

Tourists will most of the time find themselves traversing the park on foot and this enables tourists to see fauna and flora up-close. Nature walks are conducted along the gorge trail which offers opportunities to see a great number of birds in their natural habitats, passing through a swamp called Rugezi. During the walks tourists are served to views of the Congo boarder, Lake Mutanda, the towns of Kisoro and Bunagana; and the ranges of Gisozi.

  • Cultural encounters.

batwa-community-tour

Tourists can make visits to the Batwa community; a people who were sent out of the forest which they once called home and depended on for a livelihood. Today the Batwa struggle to survive in a land that they are not used to staying in. with the aim of conserving the interesting details of their culture, the Batwa trail was established along which tourists can see how the Batwa used to survive in the jungle and hearing stories about how they are struggling to survive today outside the forest. A number of interesting activities which tourists can see the Batwa people doing or even sometimes engage in include, wild fruit harvesting, wild honey harvesting and extraction of plant substances for manufacturing medical herbs. The highlights of the Batwa trail include the Garama cave where the Batwa king’s palace used to be located and the beautiful songs and dances by the Batwa women.

How to get to Mgahinga National Park, Uganda Gorilla trekking, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Kisoro Tourist Hotel

tourist-hotel-kisoro

This is a budget range hotel which offers pleasant and comfortable accommodation. The rooms feature a fireplace each, internet and cable TV, fans, en-suite toilets with hot and cold water for a fine shower in this chilly area of the country. The hotel has a well-stocked bar and an onsite restaurant which serves delicious meals. Conference facilities are also offered at the hotel but require timely booking before they can be availed. The hotel has a tour/travel desk, an art and crafts shop, fitness center which included a sauna and steam bath area and a massage room. The amenities are also complemented by a library and suitable reading area for tourists to relax and enjoy a book.

Kisoro Travelers’ Rest Hotel
travellers-rest-hotelSituated about 14km from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park the hotel can be found in the district and town of Kisoro. The hotel rooms range from single, twin, double, triple and a suite which all include en-suite washrooms that contain hot and cold piped water. In the lounge area, tourists can warm up at the fireplace and can also enjoy free Wi-Fi internet. The hotel has an onsite restaurant which serves delicious meals supplemented by drinks from a well-stocked bar.  Additional amenities and facilities include laundry services, a massage area, gift and crafts shop and tourists are also to rent one of the quad bikes at the hotel. The hotel has a positive history and has over the years been accredited by people like Dian Fossey (a great Gorilla Conservationist) who slept at the hotel.

Countryside Guesthouse Kisoro

The guesthouse is situated in Kisoro district, just a few minutes’ walk from Kisoro town. The guest house offers lodging and conference facilities to tourists on Safaris to Mgahinga Gorilla national Park. Accommodation is offered in single, double and twin rooms which feature comfortable beds with electricity at all times. The lodge amenities include access to internet, a fitness center, a gift and crafts shop, laundry and dry cleaning services and meals offered in the onsite restaurant which offers delicious meals. Services at the park are offered by skillful and friendly staff members who are ready to attend to all guests whenever needed. While at the guest house, guests can be assured of spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes which are part of the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA).

Rates for the rooms per night per erson

ROOM TYPE RATE FOR B&B PER NIGHT PER PAX
Single 25,000 Uganda Shillings
Double 45,0000 Uganda Shillings
Twin 45,000 Uganda Shillings

Amajambere Iwacu Camp

This is one of Mgahinga’s budget accommodation establishments situated at the park’s entrance just 14km south of a town called Kisoro. Amajambere Iwacu Camp offers accommodation in five bandas which are roofed using straw. The establishment also has dormitories and a campground where tourists can put up their own tents for a night or two. Meals are readily available and are served in a fine dining and a restaurant, while the drinks can also be sourced from the camp’s canteen.

Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge

This is an eco-luxury lodge situated on the boarder of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park catering for visitors to Uganda and other visitors to Rwanda’s gorilla and chimpanzee National Parks. All the accommodation units were constructed in a manner to imitate the beauty of the surrounding area while featuring traditional and modern architectural styles. Services offered are of a very high quality, and delivered by friendly and knowledgeable members of staff. The lodge’s rooms are solar powered and they have facilities like an en-suite bathroom with cold and hot water, comfortable beds and a warming fireplace. The rooms provide ideal peeking points where tourists can have individual views of the park and the majestic Virunga volcanoes.  The lodge also offers Three (3) course meals which are prepared by a knowledgeable and dedicated team of cooks. The facility also includes a massage room which is perfectly designed for guests’ comfort and relaxation.

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More Info about – Mgahinga National Park, Uganda Gorilla trekking, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga is part of the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) which is a 434 square-kilometer protected area shared with two (2) other National parks; Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park in Congo DR and Rwanda respectively. Together with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga is one place where tourists can enjoy Uganda Safaris to track the mountain gorillas.
batwa-trail-mgahingaMgahinga is also an important place to interact with some of the few uniquely authentic traditional societies especially the marginalized Batwa pygmies. They will take tourists on trips along the places they use to live in including a walk through the Garama cave which lies near the park’s northern edge situated just 3km from Ntebeko.
Mgahinga National Park also has an eye-trapping topography with beautiful peaks rising to a height above 3400m. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has three high peaks namely, Sabinyo, Muhavura and Gahinga which can all be summited without the use of expert equipment. Perhaps packing a pair of strong jungle boots and maintaining a fair level of fitness would make the hike more enjoyable.
Tourists need not to worry about where to rest their heads while on Gorilla Safaris in Mgahinga National park. There are accommodations in and around the park ranging from midrange to luxury and budget options, offered in camping grounds, lodges, hotels, resorts and guest houses.
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