Mgahinga National Park
MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Where gold meets silver
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a captivating protected area located in southwestern Uganda sitting high in the clouds at an altitude of 2,227m and 4,127m boasting over 76 mammals which include elephants, giant forest hog, bush pigs, bush back, Buffalos, leopards and a bird checklist of over 180 species and most importantly the gorillas and the golden monkeys.
The name “Mgahinga” is derived from the local language and refers to the dense forests that adorn the slopes of the Virunga Mountains. The park forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda.
The park also has a huge cultural significance, for the indigenous Batwa pygmies that have lived in harmony with the area for generations. One can immerse himself into this community’s unique way of life, traditional hunting techniques, and their profound connection to the forest.
The 13 sq mile park was first declared a sanctuary in 1930 and later gazetted as a national park in 1991.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE PARK
Golden Monkey: The park is home to the rare golden playful and beautiful primates that swing through the forest canopy. It’s a unique opportunity to witness their acrobatic displays and capture memorable photographs.
Volcanos: The park is encompassed by three volcanic peaks: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Gahinga. Here you can undertake a challenging yet rewarding hike to the summit of one of these mountains while enjoying breathtaking views, traverse through different ecosystems, and relish the sense of accomplishment.
Birds: The is a paradise for bird lovers. Explore the diverse habitats and keep an eye out for over 180 bird species, including the Rwenzori turaco, Kivu ground thrush, and the endangered African green broadbill. The park offers excellent opportunities for bird watching and photography.
The Batwa: Engaging in a cultural experience with the indigenous Batwa pygmies will teach you about their traditional way of life, including their hunting and gathering techniques, music, dances, and herbal medicine practices. It’s a chance to gain insight into their unique culture and support their communities.
Beautiful sceneries: These are from the various peaks that create a dramatic backdrop and provide fantastic views from various vantage points and the towering bamboo groves create a magical atmosphere, with sunlight filtering through the leaves and casting enchanting patterns on the forest floor.
WHAT TO DO
Gorilla Trekking: The park is famous for its population of endangered mountain gorillas and embark on a guided gorilla trekking expedition, where you’ll hike through the forest in search of these incredible creatures, and spend time observing and photographing them in their natural habitat is a beautiful experience
Golden Monkey Tracking: Mgahinga is home to the rare golden monkeys. track these playful primates through the bamboo forests and witness their acrobatic displays, capture photographs, and learn about their behavior and conservation.
Volcano Hiking: Challenge yourself by hiking one of the park’s volcanic peaks. Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Gahinga offer rewarding yet demanding treks that take you through diverse ecosystems and when you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and neighboring countries.
Bird Watching: Enjoy the activity with over 180 bird species, including the Rwenzori turaco and African green broadbill, bird watching opportunities abound.
Cultural Encounters: Immerse yourself in the local culture by engaging in cultural encounters with the Batwa pygmies and learn about their traditional way of life, participate in their dances and music, and hear stories about their deep connection to the forest while supporting the Batwa community.
Nature Walks: walks through the park’s lush forests and scenic trails help you enjoy the wildlife, and the natural beauty surrounding you.
Scenic Photography: Mgahinga offers countless opportunities for stunning photography due to the majestic mountain peaks, the gorillas and golden monkeys in their natural habitat, vibrant bird species, and the captivating landscapes.
ACCOMODATION FACILITIES IN THE PARK
Lodge and Luxury Accommodation:
Mount Gahinga Lodge: Located near the park entrance, this luxury lodge offers comfortable cottages with stunning views of the volcanoes and an intimate and upscale experience with excellent service and amenities.
Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge: Situated on the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, this lodge offers stylish accommodations, delicious cuisine, and personalized service. with a luxurious base for exploring the park.
Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp: This community-owned and operated camp provides comfortable and eco-friendly accommodations. It also offers a unique cultural experience and contributes directly to the local community.
Traveller’s Rest Hotel: Found in Kisoro town, this historic hotel provides cozy rooms, a restaurant, and a bar and is a convenient option for those seeking comfortable lodging outside the park.
Mgahinga Community Campsite: Run by the local community, this campsite offers basic facilities, including tents and campfire areas. It’s an affordable option for those looking to connect with nature and support community initiatives.
Golden Monkey Guesthouse: Situated in Kisoro town, this guesthouse provides budget-friendly rooms and a restaurant. It’s a good option for travelers seeking simple and affordable accommodation.
It’s recommended to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons, as availability may be limited. Additionally, the park management or local tour operators can assist in arranging accommodations that suit your preferences and needs.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is during the dry seasons that offer more favorable weather conditions for activities such as gorilla trekking and hiking because rainfall is relatively low, and trails are more accessible, making it easier to navigate through the forest and engage in outdoor activities. The clear skies and reduced humidity also enhance visibility, allowing for better wildlife sightings and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
HOW TO GET THERE
By Air: From Entebbe, you can take a domestic flight to Kisoro Airstrip, which is the closest airport to Mgahinga.
By Road: Private Vehicle: You can hire a private vehicle or a 4×4 safari vehicle with a knowledgeable driver. The journey from Kampala to Kisoro takes about 8-10 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.
Public Transportation: You can also take a bus or shared taxi (matatu) from Kampala to Kisoro. The journey usually takes longer than a private vehicle, around 10-12 hours, but it’s a more economical option.
Once you reach Kisoro town, the park entrance is about a 20-minute drive away. It’s recommended to arrange transportation with your accommodation or a local tour operator to ensure a smooth transfer to the park.
Nestled in the Virunga Mountains, Mgahinga National Park is a hidden gem known for its stunning landscapes, rare mountain gorillas, and rich cultural heritage. Covering an area of approximately 33.7 square kilometers (13 square miles), the park is a sanctuary for both wildlife and adventure enthusiasts.
As our clients arrive at Mgahinga National Park, they are greeted by lush green forests, mist-covered peaks, and a sense of tranquility. The park is dominated by three towering volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Gahinga. These majestic peaks not only provide a picturesque backdrop but also offer exciting opportunities for mountaineering and hiking adventures.
One of the major highlights of Mgahinga National Park is its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. These gentle giants find refuge within the park’s dense forests, and gorilla trekking offers our clients an intimate and unforgettable encounter with these magnificent creatures. Led by experienced guides, our clients will hike through the forest, following the trails of the gorillas and observing their behaviors in their natural habitat.
In addition to gorilla trekking, Mgahinga National Park offers a variety of other activities. Our clients can embark on guided nature walks, exploring the park’s diverse ecosystems and discovering the remarkable flora and fauna that call it home. The park is also a haven for birdwatchers, with over 180 bird species, including the endemic Albertine Rift endemics.
For the adventurous souls, hiking the volcanoes is a thrilling option. The ascent of Mount Muhabura, the highest peak in the park, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Virunga Mountains, Lake Mutanda, and the neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hiking Mount Sabyinyo provides a unique experience as it straddles the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mgahinga National Park is not only a treasure trove of natural wonders but also a cultural hotspot. It is home to the Batwa people, indigenous forest dwellers with a rich cultural heritage. Our clients have the opportunity to engage with the Batwa community, learning about their traditional way of life, music, and storytelling, and gaining a deeper understanding of the park’s cultural significance.
As a Nyiragongo trekking company, we ensure our clients have a seamless and unforgettable experience in Mgahinga National Park. Our expert guides are well-versed in the park’s ecology, gorilla conservation, and local culture, providing valuable insights and ensuring our clients’ safety and enjoyment throughout their journey.
A trip to Mgahinga National Park with us is an opportunity to witness the incredible beauty of Uganda’s Virunga Mountains, encounter endangered mountain gorillas, immerse in the cultural heritage of the Batwa people, and contribute to the conservation efforts of the park. It is an adventure that leaves a lasting impact, fostering a deep appreciation for the natural wonders and cultural diversity of this unique destination.