Mgahinga National Park is one of the Uganda’s smallest national parks. However this Park is famous for gorilla tracking and Volcano Trekking.
The park covers an area of 34 sq kms and is located on the south western end of the country on the border with Congo (Zaire) and Rwanda, 510km from Kampala.
The Park is the second home to the mountain gorilla found on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains. Just like Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park, Gorilla tracking is aloe controlled by allowing only small groups of people one time and always accompanied by a ranger. Bookings of the Gorilla tracking must be made in advance. Apart from the Gorillas other wildlife found in the park include bushbuck, elephant, leopard, aardvark, honey badger, jackal and a lot of bird life.
This is the major tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In the park there is one habituated gorilla family. It consists of 9 gorilla members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. Tracking from this park is easier given that this habituated family is no longer quite mobile since it has established its base at Nyakagezi
This is yet another adventurous activity that can be carried out within this park. Volcano Climbing is quite an interesting and challenging activity. From Mgahinga national park tourists have a chance to transcend to Mt. Sabinyo which is 3645m above sea level, Mt Gahinga of 3474 km and Mt. Muhavura of 4127 m. More still seeing the ‘Old man’s teeth’ on the top of Mt Sabinyo is another awesome adventure.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has got a number of unique bird species. The park has so far recorded about 79 bird species some of which are endemic to the East Congo Montane region. Common bird species in the park include Ibis, Whydah, Speckled Mouse birds, and Fire Finch Stonechat, Grey Capped Warbler, Waxbills, and Yellow-Vented Bulbul. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total known endemic species. For interested bird watchers, the local birding guides are available to guide you through the tour. You are also reminded to travel with all your birding equipments.
The distance to the cave entrance from the park Headquarters is 3 km long and it takes about 4 hours.
This is one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were warriors) lived and fought their neighbors. These pygmy related Africans lived a warrior lifestyle and they used to fight with the neighboring Bantu tribes. The Garama cave which measures 342m in length and 14m deep is now inhabited by only bats.
Guided Walks and Cultural Performances
Guided nature walks can take you up to the boarder trail. A visa is not required. The hike takes you through a trail that climbs up the base of Sabinyo through fine montane forest before turning towards the Congo. Upon reaching Congo, you cut along the international boarder. Traditional dances such as the emuya of the Naporra and Nyangiya, ethnic groups. Lara karaka and Apiti dances can be organized for you by the local community which normally has cultural entertainers available on request.
The major ethnic group are the Bafumbira who live most of their life cultivating. The Batwa (Pygmies) are the minority group and are believed to live in caves and feed on wildlife.
Accommodation facilities in and around the park
· Red Chilli Hideaway gorilla Camp; This camp is located at the starting point for trekking the Mountain Gorilla at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park 20000 per night per Banda.
Mgahinga Safari Lodge; Mid-range with 7 rooms, it is the ideal starting place for gorilla tracking. It is just 45 minutes drive; or by boat, to the Mgahinga National Park Headquarters, The lodge is an oasis in the middle of paradise. You will find Mgahinga Safari Lodge in a picturesque mountain area located on a peninsular in Lake Mutanda and situated in the three-county-corner Uganda/ Rwanda/ Congo.