Things to do in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Things to do in Mgahinga gorilla national park; Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest protected area in Uganda located in southwestern part of Uganda bordering with Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The park covers a total area of 33.7 square kilometers and was gazetted in 1991 mainly to converse and protect the endangered mountain gorillas. The park is famously known for harboring the endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, mammals like forest elephants, buffaloes, variety of bird species and the three Virunga volcanoes that is Mount Muhavura which is 4,127 meters above the sea level, Mount Gahinga which is 3,474 meters above the sea level and Mount Sabinyo which is 3,645 meters above the sea level.
Things to do in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla trekking is the major activity in Mgahinga gorilla national park and it involves tourists moving on foot into the tropical rainforest in search of the endangered mountain gorillas and once found spend one hour with them in their environment. The park is a home of one habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi which is available for trekking on a daily basis. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park starts early in the morning with a briefing at the Ntebeko park headquarters where after you will be allocated a park guide and start trekking in the jungle. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on their location because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. During trekking you will be able to view other primate species in the park such as chimpanzees, l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, view different plant and tree species, bird species among others. Once the mountain gorillas are located you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat which gives you an opportunity to watch them carry out their daily activities like feeding, breastfeeding, playing, grooming young ones, learn more about their habits, behaviors, take photos and record videos.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Golden monkey trekking is the second best done activity in the park and just like gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking starts with a briefing at the park headquarters and after the briefing you will start trekking in the forest with a park guide following trails of left over bamboo leaves. During golden monkey trekking which takes about 30 minutes to 3 hours, you will be able to view other wildlife species and once the golden monkeys are located you will be able to spend one hour with them in their habitat which gives you a chance to watch them feed, play, jump up in trees, fight, take photos and record the beautiful moments to show people back home after the safari.
Bird watching in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of more than 180 recorded bird species including 12 Albertine rift endemics, forest birds among others. Bird watching in Mgahinga gorilla national park is best done in the gorge trail between Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo with an experienced bird guide who will help you to spot different bird species scarlet tufted malachite sunbird, African paradise flycatcher, black kite, pin tailed whydah, speckled mouse bird, cape robin chat, Ruwenzori turaco, olive woodpecker, kivu ground thrush, alpine swift, blue headed coucal, moorland chat, dusky crimsonwing, Ruwenzori nightjar, blue headed waxbill, streaky seedeater, red faced woodland warbler, cape robin chat, banded prinia, chubbs cisticola among others.
Volcano hiking in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Volcano climbing is one of the adventurous activities in the park and the park is a home of three Virunga volcanic mountains namely Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga.
Hiking mount Muhavura, mount Muhavura is the highest Virunga volcano in the park and the third highest of the eight Virunga volcanoes. Mout Muhavura rises at an elevation of 4,127 meters above the sea level and hiking takes about 8 to 10 hours to reach on top. During hiking you will pass through different vegetation zones, tough, slippery and muddy terrains and when you will the summit you will be rewarded with views of a Crater Lake, Rwenzori mountain peaks, Virunga ranges and views of Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Hiking mount Sabinyo, mount Sabinyo is the second highest volcano in the park that rises at an elevation of 3645 meters above the sea level. Hiking mount Sabiyno takes about 8 hours to reach the summit and during trekking you will pass through rugged terrain. When you reach on top you will be standing in three countries that is Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Hiking mount Gahinga, mount Gahinga is the smallest mountain of the three that rises at an elevation of 2, 474 meters above the sea level. Hiking mount Gahinga takes about 6 hours round trip and during trekking you will pass through thick bamboo forest. When you reach the summit you will enjoy views of a crater filled with swamp and giant lobelia.
Batwa trail experience in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Batwa trail experience in the park is an exciting activity which gives you an opportunity to interact with the Batwa/ pygmies who used to live in the Mgahinga forest before it was gazetted as a national park. Batwa trail experience is led by Batwa guides and it starts with a walk in the forest where they used to live, takes you through their tradition way of life, learn about their hunting skills, making fire, collecting honey, fruit gathering, visit Garama caves which used to act as a meeting point, hiding place and food store, enjoy traditional entertainments from Batwa women among others.
Best time of the year to visit Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season also known as the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads, hiking and gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable.
The park can also be visited during the wet season also known as the low season in the months of March to May and November because that’s the best period for bird watching where bird lovers will be able to view migratory bird species from Europe.
How to get to Mgahinga gorilla national park
The park is located in southwestern part of Uganda and can be accessed by road transport means whereby you will drive from Kampala or Entebbe via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro and then to the park headquarters which takes about 9 to 10 hours’ drive.
The national park can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda whereby you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to the park via Cyanika border which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
The park can as well be accessed by air transport means whereby you will book scheduled or charter flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip and then connect to the park headquarters by road.