Have you been passionate about or had any questions in line with gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, birding or so many other adventures? Mgahinga gorilla national park has got all your worries covered and all your questions answered. The park offers one of the best tourism expeditions the world has ever had.
Located within the vast Virunga conservation area, Mgahinga national park encompasses three inactive volcanoes i.e. Mount. Sabyinyo, Mt. Muhabura and Mount. Gahinga. It park covers an area of about 33.7 square kilometersand is contiguous with Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga national park and Rwanda’s magnificent Volcanoes national park.
With an aim of helping and protecting the then criticallythreatened mountain gorillas, Mgahinga national park was established and officially launched as Uganda’s’ smallest nationalpark in the year 1991. Before the official declaration of Mgahinga as a national park, the area used to be a game reserveall the way from 1930s and 1950s and the lower parts of the park were used for agricultural purposes, especially crop farming.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is one of the coldest destinations in Uganda since its climate ranges from mild to cold and wet with average temperature of 200C during the day and gets cooler in evening hours.
Accessing Mgahinga gorilla national park is made possible by both air transport and road transport.
By road, you can access Mgahinga gorilla national park using Kampala – Kabale – Kisolo road (about eight hours). The road covers a distance of about 434 kilometers comprising of rolling hills, dramatic landscape, towering cities and trading centers, plantations, to mention but a few.
The other option to Mgahinga gorilla national park is driving by road from Kigali city – Rwanda throughKisoro or Kabale boarder districts. The road takes you through Cyanika and Katuna border posts respectively. The road covers a distance of about 205 kilometers from Kigali city to Cyanika and 25 kilometers from Cyanika to the park.
By air, Mgahinga gorilla national park can be accessed by booking a plane from Entebbe International airport to Kisoro airstrip. A flight will last for at most one hour thus making it the fastest means of accessing the park. It is advisable for visitors to book the plane before they make their way in to the country in order to avoid last minute disappointments brought about by high demand, especially in high season months.
Opposed to the mighty Bwindi Impenetrable national park which has over 18 habituated gorilla families, Mgahinga gorilla national park has one gorilla habituated family (Nyakagezi family) ready for trekking. Additionally other families are not habituated but they offer a one of a kind gorilla experience in the entire national park. Gorillas are always roaming the forests led by adult males known as Silverbacks. Gorillas offer good experiences as you enjoy them play, mate, groom and dine as a family.
Additionally, Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home to the rare golden monkeyspecies which were formerly believed to have been sub species of the blue monkey since they share a lot in common. These types of monkeys prefer bamboo forests from where they can get their food i.e. bamboo leaves, fruits, flowers, invertebrates, bamboo shoots, shrubs, to mention but a few. Some of these magical animals – golden monkeys are endemic to the rift valley, particularly Mgahinga gorilla national park.
The other great activity to do while on a visit to Mgahinga gorilla national park is bird watching / birding experiences. The park offers one of the best birding experiences in the region since it is home to a number of bird species, particularly the Rwenzori Turacos, Crowned Hornbill, Black Kite and Crowned Crane, Handsome Francolin, Dusky Turtle Dove, Alpine Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird, Montane Double-collared Sunbird, to mention but a few. Important to note is that some of these birds are rift valley endemic species and they are restricted to Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Other than birding, gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking, quite a number of other activities can be done in Mgahinga gorilla national park and these include but not limited to; Hiking and nature walks, Batwa Garama Cave exploration, Batwa Cultural forest experience, visiting Ntebeko Visitor’s Centre and hiking the great volcano mountains – Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo.
Mgahinga Gorilla national park offers one of the best luxurious and comfortable accommodation options since it presents a number of choices on the visitors’ table. Accommodation here range from luxury, mid-range and budget depending on one’s choice and budget.
Mt. Gahinga Safari Lodge is a good example of luxury accommodation option around the park, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Kisoro Travelers’ Rest Hotel, Mucha hotel, Chahafi resort, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp and Virunga Hotel and Campsite are some of the standard accommodation areas found near Mgahinga national park.
Some of the budget accommodation points in Mgahinga gorilla national park include but not limited to the following; Countryside Guest House, Amajambere Iwacu Camp, Golden Monkey Guest House and Mutanda Eco Community Centre (M.E.C.C).
Mgahinga gorilla national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season also known as the peak season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February.
This is a season best for gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking and birding since the trails are dry thus making movements into the deeper parts of the forest an easy work to do. However, birding can as well be best during the rainy seasons since some of the birds are migratory.
Visit Mgahinga gorilla national park –the only place in Uganda where “gold meets silver”!