Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK is part of the Virungas conservation area where Diane Fossey started the deeper understanding of the rare and endangered mountain gorillas, the park is beautified with three main mountain peaks: Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. Much as it is the smallest national park in Uganda, it is also arguably the most scenic park in Uganda, offering panoramic views that stretch northward to the Impenetrable Bwindi Forest, and a southern skyline dominated by the steep volcanic cones of the Virunga, making Mgahinga one of the most memorable and stirring sights which East Africa has to offer. The park started as a gorilla game sanctuary in 1930 and being gazetted among the latest national parks i Uganda in 1991, after relocating more than 2000 people within its boundaries.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park protects 75 spp of mammal, including the rare and endangered high altitude inhabiting golden monkey which resaerch says is a localized and a seb spp of the Blue Monkey, black and white colobus, the most stunning attractions is the mountain gorilla, giant forest hog, leopard, elephant,, bushpig, buffalo, bushbuck, black-fronted duiker and several varieties of small to large rodents, bats and small predators. Not only the above, but the park has recorded 115 bird species which directly interrelates with the  park’s small size, but also suggesting that no serious study of its avifauna has ever been undertaken. However, the par is still of great interest to bird watchers, as several of the species recorded are localized forest highly altitude birds and endemic to the Albertine Rift region, making it a unique destination for birders.

In the south western corner of Uganda, Mgahinga gorilla National park represents Uganda’s portion of the Virunga conservation area and the Virunga Mountain with its three peaks (Muhavura, Gahinga and sabinyo). The conservation area was created to protect the endangered mountain gorillas. The roughly 34km2 national park was gazette in 1991 and stands as Uganda’s smallest National Park. The park however forms part of the cross boarder system of contiguous reserves in Rwanda and the DRCongo extending over some 430km2 of the higher Virunga.  Small as its is Mgahinga is arguably Uganda’s most scenic park., offering panoramic views that stretch northwards to Bwindi, and a southern skyline dominated by the steep volcanic cones of the Virunga, surely one of the most memorable and stirring sights. The park stands on an elevation of 2300-4127m a.s.l with a montane bamboo forest, regenerating pastures on the slopes, heath and Afro-alpine moorland on the upper slopes.

Mgahinga protects 76 mammal species, including the including the endangered and endemic golden monkey , black and white colobus monkey , the endangered great mountain gorilla, leopard, elephant, giant forest hhog, bush pig, buffalo, bush back and the fronted duiker along with several varieties of rodents , bats and small predators. Bafflingly 115 bird species have been recorded possibly a reflection of the park’s small size, although; its remoteness renders it to receive few ornithologists. The pygmy community lives on the slopes of the volcanoes.

Birding: the best birding in Mgahinga takes in some of the beautiful scenery in the gorge between the Mgahinga and sabinyo, through the bamboo forest, and in the montane forest, where the beautiful Rwenzori turaco may be sighted.

Cultural encounter: for generations, Mgahinga’s dense forests were home to the indigenous Batwa hunters- gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food, and medicine. Now they lead visitors through the forest and introduce them to their old home and the techniques they used to survive on.

Gorilla trekking: the guide will guide you through the gorilla’s haven surrounded by wild forest and impressive bird life, explaining the gorilla’s behavior along the way. Tracking excursions leave from ntebeko entrance gate at 8am daily and last anything from 2-4hours.

Hiking and nature walks: hiking around the foothills of the Virunga volcano gives visitors the chance to spot forest birds , the Rugezi swamp, wild vegetation, bamboo forest, and glorious views of the surrounding lakes and agricultural villages.

Mountain / volcano climbing: all the three volcanoes in the park can be summated , taking a full day each view s from the park are well worth the effort-taking in Rwanda Dr Congo , the Virunga , the Rwenzori , Bwindi impenetrable forest and lake Edward.

Mgahinga gorilla national park: is 510km from Kampala, the most commonly used route passes through Kabale and Kisoro. The 434km journey from Kampala to Kabale can be completed in 8 hours on a good tarmac road. it is then further 76km on a mountainous tarmac with steep ascents and descents.

An attractive alternative route leaves the main road at kabale and follows the shoreline of the superbly scenic bunyonyi to rejoin the kabale Kisoro roadat its halfway point in muko.

Ntebeko, the main entrance to Mgahinga gorilla national park is 14km from Kisoro at the end of a dirt road with some steep and rocky section.

Mgahinga can also be accessed by air by using the daily flights from Entebbe international airport to Kisoro airfield.