Mgahinga National Park is one of the gorilla safari destination in Uganda. The Park covers 38 kms in size, is the Ugandan part of the bigger Virunga Conservation Area, which is a jointly protected area with Congo and Rwanda. It includes three extinct volcanoes: Mount Sabinyo (3.669 m.), Mount Gahinga (3.474 m.) and Mount Muhavura (4.127 m.).
Mgahinga is part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434km sq) which includes two adjacent parks in Rwanda and Congo. The park which is a cultural heritage featuring in the history, folklore and traditional healing practices for local people, covers the north slopes of the three northern Virunga volcanoes Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. The park derives its name from Gahinga Kinyarwanda word for a pile of volcanic lava stone heaps around which cultivation is carried out. Mgahinga is named after Mount Gahinga plus the initial of Mount Muhavura.
Species in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The vegetation is the one typical of afro-montane areas, with a consistent bamboo forest. There are 76 mammal species recorded, including buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden monkeys, leopards. 115 bird species have been recorded, including Rwenzori Turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane. Mgahinga hosts a population of golden monkeys and a few families of mountains gorillas called Nyakagezi a trans-boundary species to Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tourist Activities in the Park
Each of the three volcanoes can be climbed with a day trip hike as recommended by the lonely planet, without special mountain equipment. Visits are organized to the Garama Cave, near the Park Head Quarter in Ntebeko, which is 432 m. in length and was once inhabited by the pygmies population. The main attraction is the Gorilla tracking to the only one habituated family of mountain gorillas which is not reliable due to its crossing the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Congo). A number of one day nature walks are available from the gate at Ntebeko (the Sabinyo Gorge trail and Rugezi Swamp trail), especially for bird watching activities, visit to the Batwa cultural centre and the Golden monkey trekking is now famous.
Accessibility of the Park
Mgahinga National Park can be accessed by road or air transport. Kisoro Town at the foot of Mt. Muhavura is about 540km from Kampala and takes about 8 hours via Kabale on an excellent paved road surface. Public transport by bus is available on a daily basis. Mgahinga is located 13 km from Kisoro town and can be accessed by Public transport. Kisoro Town can also be accessed by air. The town boasts of a bitumen runway Airfield at Nyakabande.
For clients who want to visit this park accommodation can be organized from the basic Camp-site to the luxurious full board hotels, these include Traveler’s Rest, Sky Blue, Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp, Virunga Hotel, Mgahinga Safari Lodge, Rugigana Campsite and Mubano Hotel.