Mgahinga Gorilla National Park albeit the smallest in the nation, with around 33.7 kilometers. It’s so important for it is one of the only two parks in Uganda which give home to the hurt mountain gorillas, that’s to say the Gorilla safaris in Uganda Destination.
This national park is found in Kisoro in Southwestern Uganda which is around 540 kilometers from Uganda’s capital Kampala. It is an 8 hours drive through Kabale and for those without personal transport, the bus transport services are always there each and everyday. They set off at 0700hours. If you get to Kisoro town, you hike, that is if you are flexible or get a special hire up to the park gate. It is also possible to go by air to Kisoro. Flights can be organized with Eagle Air, with its usual flights on Mondays and Fridays from Entebbe to Kisoro.
Mgahinga National Park was protected in the year 1991 as part of the great Virunga Conservation Area, which is 434 kilometers. It joins Rwanda’s volcano and the Democratic Republic of Congo via Virunga National Parks.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park experiences two rainy seasons in the year; February-May and September-December. The highest amount of rainfall in a year is 250mm in October and lowest in July with 10mm
Kisoro district is densely populated, with the Bafumbira living a simple life-style mainly as cultivators on a small scale. The major tribes include the Batwa or pygmies who once lived in caves and fed on wildlife is the minority group.
The park has Afro-montane vegetation and a relatively cool climate. The largest type of vegetation is the bamboo with 60 percent, which is a highly regarded food to the mountain gorilla. Other types of flora include Haggenia spp, the Labelia and the like. The animals found in the park include; the mountain gorillas, buffalos, the threatened golden monkeys elephants, bushbucks, to mention but a few.
This is one the most interesting and notable activities, which might take one through a thick jungle. The Tourist group (The Nyakagezi group) has 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and infants. Tracking can also consume 3 to 8 hours.
These birds include; the Rwenzori turaco, Fiscal shrike, crowned hornbill, Black kite, Augur Buzzards, and crowned crane. Birding on the edge of the park is now present. If requested, the guides are just more than glad to take you out from 5 – 6pm in the evening if you book by 10am that morning. A stroll on the buffalo wall towards Congo takes you through a wetland where there are Ibis, Whydah, Specked mouse bird, and Fore Finch. Also Waxbills, Stone chart, Grey-capped warbler, and Yellow vented Bulbul are usually near the campground. Always request your guide you show you the best spots. Do not be afraid of taking your time always take your own pace. Do not forget your Binoculars as they are quite vital at such moments!
Mgahinga National Park provides its extinct volcanoes for flexible hikers albeit they do not require special mountaineering gears.
MOUNTAIN MGAHINGA [3474 m]
Mountain Mgahinga is a bit bigger as compared to the average ‘Gahinga’ but sitting near Muhavura mountain does not make it appear small. Look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields as you head to the park. The local people refer to such a pile as ‘Gahinga’: A hike that takes you about six hours round trip, goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Actually at one time, Gahinga possessed a crater lake on top of the mountain. However with time, it changed into a bush swamp. The distance up to the swamp is 8 kilometers.
MOUNTAIN SABINYO [3669 m]
Just like an old man, time has destroyed Mount Sabinyo’s crown. This volcano provides 3 challenging summits to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge on the eastern section of the climb to one summit. If you are to continue with the climb to the peak, it even includes walking a ridge with extraordinary into gorges of Uganda and Rwanda.
Finally, the hike up to the summit III is steep with many ladders and several scrambling.
You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty on the way to summit II. Otherwise when you get to the top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Uganda at the same time. The journey may take you some eight hours round the trip to cover the 14 kilometer stretch of the tour.
MOUNTAIN MUHAVURA [4127 m]
This mountain is seen from all angles of Kisoro, and this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped mountain offers some of the best sights of the nation. Most part of the climb passages, a rocky surface occupied by grasses and some small shrubs. When hikers get to the top, they are rewarded with the sight of the other Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the summits of Rwenzori Mountain, at times referred too as Mountains of the Moon. The hike takes about 8 hours round the trip to cover the 12 kilometers. Its of great advantage to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before. The site however has no facilities and therefore you ought to move with your tent, sleeping bag water and food.
The distance between the park Headquarters and the cave entrance is 3 kilometers long and it takes roughly 4 hours.
This is one of the caves where at one time, the crafty Batwa, who were once warriors, settled and battled with their neighbours at the same place. Your guide will show you how the Batwa settled and fought out of the cave. The cave is 342 meters in length and 14 meters deep. It is currently occupied by the bats.
This covers 800 meters from the gate of the park. As you get to the top, you will have a clear view of the park and the surrounding area. The activity is free and does not require a guide. The display panel at the hill point will give some information about what you can see while there.
Kisoro provides a relatively wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from the basic camping sites, to the luxurious full board hotels. These include; Traveller’s Rest Camp, Sky Blue, Mount Gahinga Rest Camp, Mubano Hotel, Virunga Hotel, Mgahinga Safari lodge, Rigigana camp site and others.
At the park gate, there is a community camp ground with enough space for ‘Do it yourself-camping’ and Mount Gahinga Rest Camp.
Its now upon your own wish!
GORILLA TRACKING REGULATIONS
For conservation purposes, tours to the gorillas are strictly limited. The rules below apply and must be strictly followed for safety.
* While with the gorillas, do not surround them and make sure you sty together in a tight group.
* No person is allowed to get into the park with a communicable disease such as flue, diarrhoea among others.
* Do not get nearer than 5 meters or 15 feet to the gorillas.
* Do not litter. All litter must be taken out of the park and properly disposed.
* No body below 15 years of age is allowed to track gorillas.
* Do not make loud noise or suddenly move.
* You are given a maximum of One (1) hour with the gorillas.
* While in the park, do not spit on the vegetation or soil. Use your handkerchief or any other garment.
* When taking photographs, do not use camera flashes.
* While with the gorillas or within the distance of 200 meters from them, do not eat or smoke.
* All human feaces must be buried at least one foot deep and make sure the hole is covered very well.