Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district and it is the smallest National park of the 3 national parks in the Virunga conservation area the other two parks are Virunga National Park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and all form 434-sq.km of this conservation area. The park was established in 1991 and it is governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with a size of 33.7-sq. km and it lies between altitudes 2,227m and 4,127m. It covers 3 of the Virunga volcanoes which are Mt. Muhavura (4,127), Mt. Gahinga (3,474), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645). The name Mgahinga was derived from the Kinyarwanda word “Gahinga” that means “Pile of volcanic lava stone heaps where cultivation is carried out”. To add on “Sabyinyo” means “the old man’s teeth” and “Muhabura” means “Guide”. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established majorly to protect the mountain gorillas and in this same park also endangered Golden monkeys have made it their habitat.
Things To Do in Mgahinga National Park
Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
This is the most breathtaking activity done in the park, and it is only Nyakagezi gorilla group that is tracked in this park. Gorilla tracking starts the morning where by the trackers start from Ntebeko to track these giants. There are guides and park rangers that are well informed about the gorillas and the park at large so the trackers are advised to be free with them and ask questions. Doing this activity needs when you are physically okay since its quite challenging such as moving in the forest, valleys and the steep slopes. The length of tracking could be 2 hours, 4 hours or a day since it is dependent on the location of the mountain gorillas since in most cases they move to search of food. Make sure you have enough equipment such as light clothes, water proof cameras, packed lunch, enough drinking water, surgical masks for wearing while in the presence of Gorillas and any other thing just in case guides advise to have them.
There is nothing as thrilling and adventurous as climbing the 3 volcanoes. You can climb each to the summit in one day, they include; Mt. Muhavura means “The Guide”; This volcano is 4,127m high and can be climbed in 8 hours covering around 12km. as you climb this mountain you move majorly in the small shrubs, grasses and the rock ground, this will give you some of the best views in the country, because when you reach the top you are able to see the peaks of Mt. Rwenzori, Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi forest, L. Edward in Queen Elizabeth national park and other things. After the long hike travelers are advised to spend a night at the base camp, and you are advised to carry sleeping gears, water, tent and food with you before you start the hike. Mt. Gahinga means “a pile of lava stones heaps around which cultivation is carried out” Hiking this mountain takes around 6 hours, the hike is taken in the Bamboo forest as you reach the top, you will find a swamp, and the distance covered is about 8 km. As you will see the stone piles in some gardens since it’s from them that the name “Gahinga” was derived. Mt. Sabinyo means “Old man’s teeth” The hike takes around 8 hours, and hiking to the top is quiet challenging but it is a great and an adventurous experience you get while hiking the eroded Sabinyo and also sloping to the gorges and ravines. When you reach its top what you get is a remarkable experience whereby you are in 3 countries at ago; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Birding & Nature Walks
Mgahinga National park has different bird species around 79 species and birding can be carried out through the bamboo forest, in the gorge between Mts. Sabinyo and Gahinga, and in the montane forest where you can easily see the Rwenzori Turaco.
Hiking and Nature walks
This is done around the edges of the mountains and it is a very interesting activity where hikers do it around the wild vegetation, bamboo forests, the Rugezi swamp which gives them a chance to have beautiful scenic views of agricultural areas, surrounding lakes like Lake Mutanda and also forest birds.
Golden Monkey Trekking
This park happens to be a habitat for the endangered golden monkeys, these are amazing to watch with in the trees, and one should not miss out on this activity while on a safari in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Golden Monkey Trekking is a lot of fun, it is not as exhausting as is Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Golden Monkeys do not move around and build new nests each day. They remain pretty well in the same area, so there need to have pre-trackers our trying to locate them as is done with Mountains Gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda. The Golden Monkeys are beautiful to look at with their various colors, including long golden hair, orange mixed into it along with its black limbs.