Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda at just 36sq Km. It is in far southwest of the country in Kisoro District, south of the town of Kisoro. It makes up the northeastern part of the Virunga Volcano range which extends into RD Congo and Rwanda. This comprises of Mount Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.
The summit of Mount Muhavura is the highest point of the park at 4,127 m and has a small crater lake that tourists may want to visit. The view from the summit is frequently obscured by the cloud. The vegetation in the park includes montane, alpine and sub-alpine flora at each of the different levels up the volcano, varying the altitude. It is possible to climb to the peaks of Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhavura, although the pace set by the ranger and armed escort may be exhausting unless you are fit. Climbs can be organised at the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park office in Kisoro.
Mount Sabinyo offers the opportunity of straddling Uganda, Rwanda and RD Congo simultaneously. There are three peaks to climb: peak one is reached along a ridge on the eastern side. Reaching peak two involves a traverse along the ridge with Rwanda on one side and Uganda on the other. Trekking to peak three involves the use of a series of ladders to help cover the terrain. The mount Gahinga climb includes a pleasant walk through bamboo forest, known locally as rugano, before the gradient increases up the summit. There was a small crater lake at the summit but it has turned into a swamp over time. The round trip takes six hours.
Alternatively, shorter walks include a visit to the enormous Garama cave, which is over 340 m in length and 14 m deep. This was where the Batwa (Pygmies) warriors used to live during their long-running conflict with their neighbors, the Bantu almost 1000 years ago.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was gazetted in 1991 and covers an area of 36 km2. It is found in the extreme South Western corner of Uganda that borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It includes parts of Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sabinyo Volcanic Mountains. The summit of Muhavura has a small crater lake and forms the highest point (4127m) in the park. The summit areas are dominated by wort and dwarf heath vegetation. This emerges into bamboo and broad leaved montane forest down the mountains. The lower slopes have high altitude Savannah woodland with lost of lichens and mosses.
The Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla brengei) are the most awe-inspiring animals to be found in Africa. Unfortunately regional human population growth and poaching activities within the park have destroyed much of their natural habitat and the population size. Having faced extinction, today sound Conservation policies have slowed down their decline. In the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park the authorities have been successful in establishing community tourism projects that have lead to a harmonious environment now existing between man and wildlife in the reserve.
Here on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, in South Western Uganda, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (33.7 Km) has been established to provide a secure habitat for these massive, but gentle creatures.
Access to the resident family at Mgahinga is strictly controlled. Only small groups of visitors (6 persons) always accompanied by a ranger/guide are able to observe the habituated Gorilla family here for a period of up to 1 hour. The time restriction and visitor numbers is maintained to keep the disturbance to the animals to a minimum. Remember these animals are in their natural environment, they are wild and unpredictable in their movements.
Mgahinga forms a portion of the Virunga Volcano conservation area, gorilla movements are affected by the distribution of plant species on which they feed. The availability of bamboo shoots, the seasonally preferred gorilla food item, affects the movements of the gorilla group across and into the Uganda-Congo border area. This is a biological behaviour of a wild species, and cannot be controlled or predicted.
The park can be reached by road through Kabale and Kisoro 510 km from Kampala.
Visitors to this park can be accommodated in nearby motels in Kisoro or Kabale.
Colobus monkey, jackal, porcupine, Golden cat, Gorilla, Honey Badger, Duiker, Aadvark, elephant. This park is the second home of the rare mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in Uganda. Other animals in the area include golden monkey, leopard, giant forest hog, bushbuck and buffalo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest national park at just 36 sq km. It spreads far southwest in Kisoro District.
Mgahinga is part of the Virunga volcano range which extends into Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is an amazing location to trek the mountain gorillas, and the backdrop of the Virunga volcanoes is something straight out of Gorillas in the Mist. Besides the Gorillas, the park harbours a lesser population of elephants, Buffaloes, giant forest hogs, uncommon blue monkey and the golden monkey.
Golden monkey is only found in the Virunga Volcano range and two other forests in central Africa. This rare primate derives its name from the colour of its fur, which unfortunately puts it under threat from poach. The golden monkeys are 3000 to 4000 in number.
Presently, Uganda Wildlife Authority completed the process of habituating a family of Golden monkeys for experiential tourism as a strategy to diversify tourism activities within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
This habituation experience takes place in the mornings and afternoon and lasts for about four hours each session.
During habituation, you might escort the researchers and have a unique opportunity to get in close proximity with the primates.