Mgahinga national park is the smallest park composing of 33.9 square kilometers. The park is located in the south western part of Uganda in Kisoro district and bordered with Virunga national park in Congo and volcanoes national park in Rwanda at edge of rift valley. The park is at low and high altitude of about 2,227 – 4,127 meters of its rain forest.
Mgahinga national park was gazetted in 1991 to protect the great apes known as mountain gorillas and other primates like golden monkeys, black and white monkeys, over 300 species of birds like blue headed sun birds, regal sun birds, red throated gleth, Rwenzori turaco, dusky crimson wing and many others.
The park is one of the famous places with the endangered mountain gorillas which has impact on Uganda gorilla safaris. Gorilla trekking can be done in the Nyakagezi trails which inhabit these great apes. The trekking safaris consists 8 people per group being conducted by the guide leading the tourist to their tails. Tourists keep on moving and checking on the current direction where the gorillas were allocated.
Mgahinga National park is on low land and covers 33.9 square kilometers. In 1991 it was established a forest reserve, with a tropical montane forest that can be accessed on foot with diverse species of trees & vegetation which are habitant for over 200 bird species such as olive pigeon, mouse birds, pin tailed whydah, black kite, white necraven and many other. These can be spotted at the rim of Albertine rift valley. The various wildlife species are under the protection of Uganda wildlife Authority and it became a UNESCO heritage site since 1993.
The word mgahinga was derived from the Kinyarwanda word and gahinga which means “the piles of volcanic stone at the edge of foot hills of the volcanoes”. The park covers three parts of the volcanoes namely Mount muhavura, Mount gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo measures 3645 meters long.The three mountains are habituated with various species & features like over 300 birds, water bodies such as swamps, small crater lakes which are found in East of mount muhavura. These wetlands support a variety of species such as 300 primates, 300 tree species, 200 species of mammals and many more.
Gorilla trekking can be done for few hour as 2 to 8 hours depending on where they are being located. Tourists can be allowed maximum of 1 hour with the gorillas and they are trained to stay close to human beings or go face to face with these mountain gorillas.To have this emotional experience of gorilla trekking requires a tourist to book in time before the expected date of trekking. A traveler can as well buy the gorilla trekking permits online by communicating to a trusted tour operator and gorilla trekking permits cost USD 600 per person.
The park is a gazetted area for game sanctuary and forest reserve with variety of tourist attractions and activities in which tourists can engage in such as; guided nature walk, golden monkey trekking, visiting the batwa people (cultural safaris), volcanoes hiking, bird watching, gorilla tracking and many more.
Mgahinga national park can be accessed from Kampala within 8 to 9 hours by road and tourists can enjoy Uganda’s green land like tea plantations and the rolling hills. Alternatively, a traveler can use a charter flight from Entebbe airport or kajjansi air strip with in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The park has got unique accommodation facilities in terms of lodges with comfortable beds where a tourist can sleep and these includes Travelers rest, Mt Gahinga Rest, Nkuringo safari lodge, Cloud Mountain Gorilla lodge and many others, depending on the tourists’ budget.
The best time to visit Mgahinga national park is in dry season from the month of January, march, June, November to December. Travelers can as well visit the park in wet season though the area is steep & slippery. You are requested to carry gumboots, jackets, concaves, sweaters for your own use. In wet seasons the prices for lodges and activities become cheaper compared to dry seasons.