Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga is part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434sqkm) which includes two adjacent parks in Rwanda and Congo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
Located in South Western Uganda, bordering Rwanda and Congo, 14 km from Kisoro. Size: 33 square kilometres. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda and Virunga National Park DRC respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District. Mgahinga Gorilla.
National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
UGANDA SAFARI DESTINATION
THE GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga at a glance
Size: 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park.
The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes.
The British administration declared the area a game sanctuary in 1930; it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991.
Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group, the Nyakagezi gorilla family.
The Batwa were self-sufficient – and visitors can see how during a fascinating tour with a Batwa guide to learn the secrets of the forest.
MGAHINGA GORILLA SAFARIS
All our tours are born out of a desire to share authentic African Safari experiences. Offering travellers individual journeys, designed to match your interests, tastes and budget, we provide tailor-made tours to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Enquire with our team of experts to start your journey.
GORILLA GROUPS IN MGAHINGA
Nyakagei Gorilla Group
Location: Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Group size: 10 individuals including 1 silverback
Nyakagezi Gorilla Group is the only family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. The group is led by Mark, the dominant Silverback, who likes travelling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past few years however, the group has been stable and they are trying to settle on the Ugandan side since November 2012, and are likely to stay for a while. In May 2013 when a newborn baby gorilla arrived, increasing the group to 10 members. Due to quite unpredictable behavior, permits for this group can only be booked at the local Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Kyaguriro Gorilla Family
Location: Ruhija Area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Group size: 15 Members including Kyaguriro
Another habituated Gorilla Group that is not visited by tourists and has been reserved for research and other studies. Keeping contact with this group, helps conservationists to learn more about the mountain gorillas of Bwindi, including some remarkable differences with the mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga Volcanoes.
Activities in Lake Mburo
Mt. Sabinyo (366M) – Oldman’s Teeth.
Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown. This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to peak. If you are to continue, the climb to the peak 11 involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda, a dual experience you will achieve here. Finally, the hike up to the peak 111 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to peak111! Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, what a triple experience this is!!! The journey takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.
Mt. Muhavura (4127M) – The Guide
Seen from all over Kisoro, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12km.You are advised to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before the site has no facilities so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear.
Mt. Gahinga (3474M)
On your way to the park, look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such a pile a ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite bigger than the average ‘gahinga’ but sitting next to Mount Muhavura does make it look small. A hike, which takes you about, six hours round trip, goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush swamp. Distance to the swamp is 8km.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is blessed with a unique bird fauna; 79 bird species have thus far been recorded within the park, including several species endemic to the East Congo Montane region. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total of known endemic species.
If you wish to go camping there is ample space at the park gate and Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp. Besides that, there is also excellent tradtionalbandas managed by the local community.
Kisoro is about 540 km (8-9 hours) from Kampala. A 4WD vehicle is recommended. Kisoro town offers a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from basic campsites to luxurious full board hotels, including: Virunga Hotel Traveller’s Rest Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp Nkuringo Safari Lodge Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.