Mgahinga National Park, Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Mgahinga National Park is located in the South Western part of Uganda covering an area of 33.9 km2 and is one of the Virunga Mountains. The Park is prominently known for Gorilla trekking with three inactive Mountain Volcanoes which include; Mount Muhabura Volcano, Mount Gahinga Volcano, and Mount Sabyinyo Volcano.
It is adjacent to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
It experiences two wet seasons in the months of February to May and September to December with average rainfall amounts of 250 mm (9.8 in) in October to 10 mm (0.39 in) in July.
It comprises of bamboo forest, Albertine Rift montane forests, Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands with tree heath and an alpine zone at higher altitudes. The Park is prominently known for Mountain Gorilla tracking and Golden Monkey Tracking which offers opportunities like those of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Location of Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is located at an elevation with an altitude of between 2,227 m and 4,127 m. It is a very exceptional Safari Destination to explore by all kinds of travelers interested in Gorilla Trekking and Golden Monkey Tracking.
How to Get to Mgahinga National park
Mgahinga National Park is located in the South Western Part of Uganda and can be accessed both by use of Road/ Car as well as Air/ Aeroplane.
Travelers transferring to Mgahinga National Park can use a flight from Entebbe International Airport to an Airstrip in Kisoro located just 14 kilometers off the main entrance gate of Mgahinga National Park.
By road, this depends on your current location for example, if you are at Lake Mburo National Park, you will transfer to the park for a period of 5 to 7 hours and Queen Elizabeth National Park a period of 3 to 4 hours.
However, travelers can also transfer direct from Entebbe International Airport or Kampala for a period of 8 hours through Mbarara then kabale (Kisoro).
When To Visit Mgahinga National park for Gorilla Trekking
Mgahinga National Park can be visited any time around the year however the best time to visit the park is during the Dry season in the months from Late May to early October and December to February.
This is because during this time the trails are navigable, photography is clear and the Mountain Gorillas are wandering around the forest vegetation searching for food, fruits hence easy to find.
Activities to Do in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is a very ideal Safari Destination in Uganda with numerous activities travelers can engage in to enjoy every encounter around the park.
Mountain Gorilla tracking is the most prominent safari activity carried out in the park and this requires you to have a valid Gorilla Trekking Permit at US $600 which you will carry with you to the Park Headquarters where you will be briefed on the Dos and Don’ts around the rare species of Mountain Gorillas in their natural forest vegetation habitat.
After briefing, you will be distributed in groups of 8 per Gorilla Group then with an experienced ranger guide, you will transfer to penetrate the forest to track the Mountain Gorillas for a period of 3-5 hours and when you meet them, only an hour is allowed to stay in their presence taking numerous photos to keep for memories. After tracking, you will proceed back to the headquarters to be awarded with a Gorilla Trekking Certificate.
Mgahinga National Park is also an ideal birder’s destination due species to the vibrant species that inhabit the forest vegetation habitat. There are 115 bird species that have been recorded and the Best time to visit Mgahinga National Park for Birding is during the months of April to Mid-May and October to November.
The Bird species you will see include; White-necked raven, Black kite, Pin-tailed whydah, Double-collared sunbird, Speckled mouse bird, Paradise flycatcher, peckled Mouse birds, Fire Finch Stonechat, Grey Capped Warbler, Waxbills, Yellow-Vented Bulbul.Alpine chat, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed coucal, Dusky crimson wing, Kivu ground-thrush, Olive pigeon, Olive woodpecker, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco.
Volcano Climbing/ Hiking
Volcano/ Mountain Climbing at Mgahinga National Park is also a prominent Safari Activity due to the presence of the three different Mountain Volcanoes in the Park. The Mountain Volcanoes in the Park include; Mount Sabinyo Volcano, Mount Gahinga Volcano, Mount Muhavura Volcano.
- Mount Gahinga Volcano is the less challenging Volcano to Hike due to the fact that anyone can hike it even with no hiking experience. It is 3,474m and takes hikers a period of 6 hours to finish with features i.e swamp-filled crater and giant lobelia.
- Mount Sabinyo Volcano is quite challenging to hike and is elevated at a height of 3,669m requiring a period of 8 hours for a distance of 14 kilometers.
- Mount Muhavura Volcano is the highest volcano to hike and is at an elevation of 4,127m requiring a distance of 12 kilometers and 8 hours to finish. When you reach the summit, you will have beautiful sightings of the Virunga Volcanoes in a distance, Peaks of Mountain Rwenzori and Bwindi forest National park.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Golden Monkey Tracking is also another activity that can be carried out in Mgahinga National Park requiring you to transfer throughout the forest vegetation searching for the Golden Monkeys as they play/ jump from one tree branch to another. You will track these for a period for 2-3 hours and when you find them, you will be amazed as they will watch you excitedly within the tree branches. The Golden Monkey Tracking Permit costs US $50 per person interested in tracking these beautiful primates.
Mgahinga National Park is a very appropriate safari destination for all travelers interested in Cultural Adventures in Uganda. The Park is close to the Batwa Community which can be visited by all travelers interested in learning more about the lives of the local Batwa People. You will meet them and they will perform and entertain you through Music, Dance and Drama according to their unique traditions and customs and adventure very exceptional and amazing.
Hiking and Nature Walks
With numerous hiking Trails, Mgahinga National Park is a very ideal hiking and Nature Walk destination to all travelers interested in enjoying Nature Adventures in Uganda.
The Hiking trails include; the Batwa Trail which gives you an opportunity to watch and experience the Batwa local people/ Community traditions, Sabinyo Gorge Walk which will take you to the top of Mount Sabinyo Volcano for a period of 5-6 hours, Border Trail which will take you to the Uganda Border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hiking to the Visitor’s Information Center where you will be informed about the stunning Mgahinga National Park, Vegetation, and animal species around the forest vegetation.