Welcome to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park lies high in the Virunga Mountains in the Kigezi region of southwestern Uganda, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. The park is Uganda’s smallest and indeed most attractive national park protecting the rare mountain gorillas in its dense forests.
The park is also Uganda’s habitat for the endangered golden monkeys and has at times been referred to as a place where the Gold meets the Silver. Its three conical extinct Volcanoes and their peaks provide Mgahinga with the most scenic views.
In addition to the Golden monkeys and the mountain Gorillas, the park shelters over 39 species of mammals including Forest elephant, leopard, buffalo, bush pig and primates like Golden monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys and L’Hoest’s monkeys but these are rarely seen and 79 bird species recorded including the Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane.
How to get there?
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern region of Uganda in Kisoro district 493 km from Kampala to the border of Uganda with Rwanda and Congo covering an area of about 33.7sq km.
The park is part of the Virunga conservation area that spans through Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virunga Mountains, in the Parc National des Volcanoes and Parc National des Virunga respectively. Mgahinga National park neighbors Bwindi National park with in a 2 hours’ drive.
Mgahinga gorilla national park can be access by a flight from Entebbe to Kisoro airstrip. This will help reduce your travel time from Entebbe to Mgahinga gorilla national park by more than half. However, most of the travelers stick to the transfer on Land since it far cheaper compared to the flight expenses.
Things to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Gorilla tracking
Mgahinga is one of Uganda’s homes for the endangered mountain Gorillas with a habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi. It is no doubt that this park is one of the leading gorilla safari destinations in Uganda. The gorilla Safari should be done here because it has a thick rain forest with a wide variety of tree species and gorillas are known to be vegetarians. The Gorillas keep moving around the park because there’s enough food for them. Though not many, gorillas of Mgahinga National Park are easily seen in their natural habitats and this makes tracking easier compared to other parks.
- Golden Monkey tracking
Golden monkey tracking is one of the major of the tour activities in Mgahinga national park. The golden monkey is endemic to the Albertine Rift, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only place in Uganda where these endangered creatures (The Golden Monkeys) live high in the dense bamboo forests on the Gahinga trail. Over 60 of the 3000 to 4000 estimated golden monkeys in the Virunga area are habituated in Mgahinga. Read More>
- Batwa Trail
The Batwa trail involves a community visit that starts from the base of Muhavura Cave through the local people that formerly were occupying the forest. This walk is conducted by Batwa guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains matchless. There are two main ethnic groups in this region and the most numerous are the Bafumbira who are primarily farmers and the Batwa form a minority group.
- Hiking and nature walks
Nature walks & hikes through the Park leads you to fascinating attractions like the Sabinyo gorge as you enjoy bird watching, wildlife like forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pig and primates like Golden monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys and L’Hoest’s monkeys.
Several butterflies are there and tourists interested in them have a great opportunity to watch them. Hiking through the jungles of Mgahinga National Park involves Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, hiking through the sabinyo gorge trail, the Congo-Border trail hike, the riveting and popular Batwa trail and the golden monkey track.
- Birding in Mgahinga
Mgahinga is one of the best birding taking you to some of its most beautiful scenery in the gorge between Gahinga and Sabinyo mountains, through the bamboo and montane forest where birds like the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco may be observed.
The 3 to 4 hour Gorge trail between Gahinga and Sabinyo gives spectacular sightings of the Dusky turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Kivu-ground Thrush, Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, , Rwenzori Batis, Black-headed Waxbill, Bronze Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird and Streaky Seedeater.
The bamboo belt and the tall montane forest are also special points for bird watching. The Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia and Doherty’s Bush-shrike are vocal yet inconspicuous inhabitants of the tangled vegetation at the forest’s edge. Read More>
Where to Sleep Around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is Uganda’s smallest national park. For that reason, there is accommodation with in the national park itself but there is accommodation near and around Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Below are some of the lodges to consider for your overnight stay during your gorilla trekking safari to Mgahinga gorilla national park
- Mgahinga rest camp
- Mucha Hotel Kisoro
- Travelers’ rest hotel –Kisoro
- Kisoro Tourist Hotel
- Mutanda Lake Resort
- Mount Gahinga Lodge
- Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp
Where to Buy Mgahinga Gorilla Trekking Permits
Previously, gorilla trekking permits were bought either in Kampala or at the park gate. However in 2022, Uganda wildlife Authority issued a statement relinquishing any foreign non resident of the powers to buy gorilla permits in Uganda.
As of today, it is only the Uganda Tourism Board licensed tour operators that are allowed to buy gorilla trekking permits. However there is a provision for foreign residents to buy gorilla trekking permits for themselves without the help of any tour operator. This would require you to present your identity documents as well as your work permit.
How Much are the Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National park?
The rates for the activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park vary. For instance gorilla trekking is $700 (Inclusive of a guide and park entrances). Foreign residents are charged $600 per permit inclusive of a guide and park entrances while East African are charged Ugx 250,000. Gorilla habituation is not available in Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Golden monkey tracking is $100 inclusive of park entrances and guides for foreign non residents, $90 inclusive of park entrances for foreign resident and Ugx 40,000 for East Africans.
Golden monkey habituation experience is $140 per foreign non resident, $120 for foreign residents and Ugx 100,000 for East Africans.
The Batwa trail experience is $80 for foreign non resident, $70 for foreign residents and Ugx 50,000 for East Africans.
For those interested in nature walks, and hikes; Mgahinga Volcano Climbing is $80 for foreign non residents, $70 for foreign residents and Ugx 50,000 for East Africans. Mgahinga platform view is $10 for both foreign residents and non-foreign residents.
Gorge walks cost $30 for foreign non residents, $15 for foreign residents and Ugx 15,000 for East Africans.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a magical place where you get to see the silver and the Gold in one place, the presence of the rare golden monkeys and gorillas in this park gives it an upper hand in attracting more visitors for these two endangered species. The three mountains also make visits to Mgahinga a very unique experience with the beauty of the beautiful scenery at the mountain peaks as you hike through.