MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK


The Mgahinga gorilla park is located in the Kisoro district of far south-western Uganda and the park totals about 33.7 square kilometers making it one of the smallest of Uganda’s national parks. 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 and as its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas in the dense forests, and a habitat for the endangered golden monkey as well as bush pigs, jackals, forest buffaloes, and hundreds of bird species including the ibis and paradise fly-catcher.


Mgahinga national park has three of the eight Virunga Mountains volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo and these dormant volcanoes are international mountains, with Muhabura and Gahinga on the Uganda - Rwanda border, and Sabyinyo a tripoint on the Uganda-Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) borders.


Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also protects tropical moist broadleaf forests of the Afromontane Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion and experiences two wet rainy seasons: February to May; and September to December where average amount of monthly rainfall varies from 250 millimeters in October to 10 millimeters in July.
Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group who are 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 and this tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.

Tourist Activities In Mgahinga Gorilla Park


Birding
In the gorge between Mt Mgahinga and Sabinyo, there are beautiful scenery for birding via the montane forest.
There are over 190 bird species such as Pin-tailed Whydah, Stone Chat, Grey-capped Warbler, Wax Bills, Speckled Mousebird, the Ibis, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Firefinch, White-naped Raven, Black Kite, Rwenzori Turaco, Blue-headed Coucal.


Gorilla Tracking
Gorilla tracking is the most popular activity done in this park home to only one gorilla family called Nyakigezi . Tracking in this park usually takes longer hours than in Bwindi mainly becasue you will be searching for only one family , which is quite hard to find especially during the rainy season. Gorilla permit in Uganda costs US$ 600 per person and a certificate is given to you after the completion of the trek.


Golden Monkey Tracking

Mgahinga foest is home to the rare golden monkey, an endemic of the Virunga ranges. A guided forest walk offers you an opportunity to encounter these beautiful gold dotted monkeys plus a varirty of other primate species including the Blue monkey plus various bird species to mentoin but a few.
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Volcano Climbing
The is also amazing activity of climbing the 3 majestic Virunga Volcanoes. You will have the most super views of and from the volcanoes – at times you can enter three countries on Mount Sabinyo – you do get the afro-montane vegetation with its lobelias, giant heathers and more. It would take you 3 days to take in all of the volcanoes but strength and stamina should be a top priority to consider before you even think of climbing.

Tourist Attractions In Mgahinga Gorilla Park


Virunga Volcanoes
The Virungas has eight volcanoes along the Ugandan, DRC AND Rwandan border. However, 3 of the conical peaks are in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Mount Muhavura (4,127m) is the highest of the peaks in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Having a crystal clear crater lake at its summit gives it panoramic view far into Uganda, Rwanda and along the length of the Virunga chain.


Mount Gahinga (3,474m) is the smallest of the Virunga volcanoes. These have volcanic debris that clutters around the local farmlands into neat cairns and has a swamp-filled crater.


Mount Sabinyo which is a local term meaning 'Old man’s teeth' as a reference to its jagged summit which is dissected by deep gorges and ravines. The countries that share the Virungas – Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo – meet on the highest of mount Sabinyo's peaks.


Caves
There are caves on the steep mountain slopes formed by the lava tubes. The famous cave is the Garama Cave located near the park headquarters. It’s a sacred place for the Batwa where it acted as a shelter during battles and as a place to store looted treasures.


Ntebeko Visitors’ Centre

This is a tourist center located at the base of Mt Muhavura used as base for nature walks, volcanoes climbing, golden monkey and gorilla tracking plus the short Batwa trail . A trail along the stone Buffalo Wall – built to keep animals out of neighboring farmland – provides good birding and views of the volcanoes.


Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is situated outside the park with atleast 20 small islands and surrounded with steep terraced hills and Africa’s second deepest lake. The lake is has over 89 small islands each with a distinct history plus some of the best scenic views of the sunrising and setting over the island hills and lake.

 

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