Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a gorilla trekking safari park in Uganda on an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m hosting the rare Mountain Gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National inhabits a single mountain gorilla family known as Nyakagezi that is tracked on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris. For details on location, history, activities, attractions, accommodation and trips to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Location of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda

Covering an area of about 33.9 square kilometers (13.1 sq mi) Mgahinga Gorilla Park is situated in south western Uganda. The park is found within the Virunga Mountains formed by three inactive volcanoes namely Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is about 560km from Kampala taking about 8-10 hours. The park is just about 6 hours drive from Kigali-Rwanda.

Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Created in 1991, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was formed in an area that used to be a game reserve between the 1930’s and 1950. In 1989, wire traps were destroyed, rangers trained ad trees planted and later on settlers relocated outside the park in the 1990’s. Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the smallest park in Uganda created to protect the Mountain Gorillas that are within the trans boundary Virunga massif adjacent to the Rwanda gorilla safari destination of Volcanoes National Park and the Congo gorilla trekking safari park of Virunga National Park.

Best time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Situated in the southern corner of the country where there two seasons in the year, the best time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla Park for Uganda gorilla safaris and other activities is during the dry season months. This is mostly during the months of June –August and December – early February. The dry season is more recommendable because the roads are passable and the trails are not much slippery.

The terrain within the park is affected with heavy rains in the rainy season and this can make access to the park difficult. However, the park is open year round and depending on your planned trip time you can visit the park.

Getting there / How to get to Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla Park is fully dependant on the choice of the traveler. It’s possible to get to Mgahinga National Park by either road or by air. Here are the distances on how to get to Mgahinga Gorilla Park either by road or by air

By road

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is about 493km from Kampala – Uganda’s capital using the shortest route. This route that goes via Kabale-Mbarara road takes a drive time of about 8h 39min. The other route via Masaka road covers 561km on a road drive of about 11 hours.

From Kigali –Rwanda’s capital, Mgahinga Gorilla Park is 141km away on a road drive of about 3 hours on the fastest route. Using the Kigali-Ruhengeri road it covers a distance of about 184km and a road drive of about 4h 21min to reach Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda. Its faster reaching the park from Rwanda and still cheaper trekking gorillas in Uganda.

By air

From Entebbe International Airport-Uganda, chartered flights can be booked with Aerolink to Kihihi airstrip in Kisoro district. This is 1h 10min flight and then connect to the park by road on a drive lasting about 4h 27min via Kabale –Kisoro road.

Your Route to Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Activities / Things to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Mountain gorilla tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the top safari activity in the park. Uganda gorilla safaris are undertaken each day as a total of 8 tourists above the age of 15 and have purchase a Uganda gorilla trekking permit go in search of the Nyakagezi gorilla family. Each morning, before setting off for trekking, tourists are first briefed on the gorilla trekking etiquette then after head to the jungle alongside armed park rangers. The search for these gentle giants is referred to by many as a lifetime experience. Mountain gorilla tracking lasts about 2-8 hours since the gorillas are mobile and therefore the time spent is unpredictable. However, only one hour is spent in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas then after return to the park headquarters where trekkers receive a Uganda gorilla trekking safari certificate.

The Uganda gorilla trekking permit costs 600 USD for foreign non residents, 500 USD for foreign residents and 250,000 Ugandan shillings for East African citizens (2019 prices). Effective 1st July 2020, a gorilla permit will cost 700 USD for foreign non-resident and 600 USD for foreign residents.

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Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Golden Monkey trekking is less exhausting than the popular gorilla trekking in Uganda since they are not so mobile and prefer staying in almost the same area. A glimpse at golden monkeys is priceless since they are beautiful and playful through the bamboo stems. However, with their very playful character a trekker needs a high quality camera to capture their pictures since they leap so fast.

To have a golden monkey trekking safari in Uganda, one needs to purchase a permit prior and this can be done through a tour operator. Golden Monkey trekking starts at 8:00am each morning with briefing then after head to the Gahinga trail. On reaching the presence of the golden monkeys, only 1 hour is spent in their presence out of the 2-4 hours spent on the trek.

Golden Monkeys in Uganda Safaris - Wild Jungle Trails Safaris Uganda

Bird watching in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Bird watching safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla park are rewarding with about 184 bird species seen within the park. The best bird watching spots include the gorge between Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo, through the bamboo forest and in the montane forest. This trail lasts about three to four hours with possible sightings of the Dusky turtle Dove, Kivu-ground thrush, Regal Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Streaky Seedeater, Olive Thrush and many more. The other good bird watching spots include the bamboo belt at about 2,500m above sea level an altitude where the Rwenzori Turaco can easily be spotted.

Bird watching in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Hiking and nature walks in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Hiking and nature walks are the best way of exploring the Mgahinga Forest. The trails entail a traveler an amazing walk through the forest with an opportunity to see several flora and fauna species. The three volcano peaks of Mgahinga Gorilla Park can be hiked each on a single day when one chooses to take a hiking trip in the park. Mount Muhavura rises to 4,127m high and can be climbed in 8 hours with a glimpse of the Rwenzori Mountain and Volcano peak. Mount Gahinga hike takes about 6 hours and Mount Sabinyo is about 8 hours hike with the peak on the border of the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

Nature walks can be done around the edges of the mountain within the bamboo and scenic vegetation of surrounding lakes like Lake Mutanda.

Hiking and nature walks in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Batwa Trail

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park offers you a chance to have a close experience with the Batwa pygmies an activity done by the Batwa to preserve and share their culture with the world. The Batwa pygmies are the only peoples who lived in the forest alongside other wildlife species including the rare Mountain Gorillas. For conservation purposes, the Batwa were relocated to the areas around the forest and only Batwa guides enter the Batwa trails with tourists. The Batwa trail is a half day cultural tour as the Batwa demonstrate to you their hunting techniques, medicinal plants and many more instruments they made and used for survival.

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