MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
The magnificent beauty of Uganda’s tiniest park. One of the remaining still intact forests in Africa, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The makes Uganda to remain as the only park in the world with two mountain gorilla habitants together with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Mgahinga though it’s smaller size, but very unique from the rest of the parks in Uganda. It’s the only forest which is endemic to both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The reason why termed as the where “gold meets Silver” meaning finding the golden monkeys living alongside the silverbacks.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a bloc on the larger Virunga Conservation Area. The shares on remaining half of the world’s mountain gorilla’s population in Virunga. Then the other half resides in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mgahinga is the chain of three dormant volcanos. These volcanoes are; Mt Sabinyo, Mt Gahinga and Mt Muhavura.
The Park is located in the southwestern where Uganda shares borders with both Rwanda and DR Congo. This is a smaller park of 33.4km2, standing at an elevation ranging from 2000 to 4127m above sea level. Purposely Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was preserved to conserve the endangered mountain gorillas.
For tourist interest in visiting Uganda can use either Kilgali international airport and take a 4 hours’ drive to the park or using Entebbe international airport for a full day drive via Kisoro. However, one can decide to and can be accessed fly from Entebbe to Kihihi airstrip in Kisoro.
Tourist attractions and activities at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park hosts the least number of mountain gorillas. There is only one habituated gorilla family meaning only 8 visitors are expected to trek gorillas daily. When planning to trek gorillas here, one must community and make books earlier at least three months before trekking date. However, gorilla remains the major adventure attraction done at Mgahinga Gorilla National Par.
Trekking here starts early in the morning by the briefing before 8am. All trekkers present their permits, then with a lead of an armed ranger guide, roll into the forest. A walk continues into the valleys and hikes through thickets and bamboos until the apes are seen. The search can last from about 30 minutes to 4 hours before finding the gorillas and finding the gorillas you have a spot of an hour in their presence.
Golden monkey tracking
The only endemic forest for the endangered golden monkeys in Uganda. Golden moneys live in communities of about 100 individuals, very shy that they tend to run away on human appearance. However, the golden monkeys are habituated that can keep around even at human appearance. To trek the golden monkeys there is a chance to find at least some gorillas alongside. A permit to trek golden monkeys costs %60 issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Golden monkey trekking permits are reserved prior to tour trekking dates.
Batwa cultural trails
The Batwa trail starts right from the base of Muhavura caves. All about the cultural trail is led by a Twa guide who leads on a walk and gives an insight about the Batwa people. The Batwa lived a miserable life following their eviction from both Mgahinga and Bwindi forests for the sake for conservations. Their eviction came without their consent and received no compensation. This kept them for years as squatters on their ancestral land not until 2005. This is when the Batwa people were recognized and resettled and turned their story to earn a living. A visit to the Batwa community and take this cultural trial is a great support to uplift their standard of living.
The park is made up of three dormant volcanos which are Muhavura (4,127m), Sabinyo (3,669m) and Gahinga (3,474m). Volcanic hiking is another famous activity done at the park which leads you to appreciate the beauty of Mgahinga. No level of fitness is needed but must attain a standard of health as hiking these volcanos still is not for the heart faint. Hiking either Muhavura, Sabinyo or Gahinga takes about 10hours to 8hours and 6 hours respectively. This is a full day activity reaching the summit and return back. Climbing to the summit of Mt Sabinyo makes you standing at the border of three countries at once.
The moist and breezy forest is home to several bird species. The bird accommodates over 115 bird species of which some are endemic to the Albertine rift. A day of bird one can record over 50 bird species a day. A park has specialist birding guides who can lead you into various made trails.