Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Like three other National Parks in Africa, Mgahinga provides a refuge to some of the world’s remaining population of world mountain gorillas. Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National park, together provide shelter to over half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population.
Mgahinga National Park is positioned in the far southwestern part of Uganda in a district called Kisoro about 510km from Uganda’s Capital City Kampala. The park is Uganda’s smallest national park with a total area of 33.7km2. Joined to the Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park the park forms the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) which all together covers a total area of 434 square kilometers. Read More
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park provides tourists an opportunity to track the famous mountain gorillas. The Park’s only habituated mountain gorilla group can be visited by a maximum of eight (8) people per day and once the gorilla group has been found, tourist can enjoy a full hour with the family taking photos and simply gazing at the gorillas. Mgahinga’s only habituated mountain gorilla called Nyakagezi has a total of ten (10) members with a number of silverbacks including Bugiingo, Marfia, Mark and Matthew. Mark is the alpha silverback and he took leadership in from Bugiingo. Bugiingo is around 53 years and is the father to most of the family’s members. Also known for its playful juveniles (Ndungutse and Rukundo) who rarely flee from the camera, Nyakagezi mountain gorilla family has a number of females including Nshuti and Nyiramwiza.
Mgahinga has over 179 bird species in her many habitats which provide satisfaction to birders while on Uganda Safaris to Mgahinga. The bird list features species like the Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Rwenzori Turaco, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Wax Bills, Strip-breasted Tit, Regal Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Pin-tailed Whydah, Speckled Mousebird and the White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher. Twelve (12) of Mgahinga’s bird species can only be found in the Albertine Rift Valley area.
The mountain gorillas, Mgahingga has over 75 other species of mammals including 60 habituated golden monkeys. This is a percentage of the 3000 – 4000 golden monkeys in the Virunga Conservation Area; surely something to look out for while hiking through Mgahinga. Many of the park’s other mammals are not commonly seen but once in a while, lucky tourists will get their eyes on a couple of them including the forest elephants, the forest buffalos, giant forest hogs, bush pig and the South African Porcupine.
The wild vegetation
The park’s changing altitude offers an awesome variety of vegetation with each level unveiling a different type of vegetation. At the lower slopes of the park, tourists are greeted by grassland put side by side with forest vegetation. By climbing higher into the next zone, climbers begin to sight the beautiful montane woodlands and then the bamboo vegetation where many of the golden monkeys can be tracked. The next zone is called the Ericaceous zone which mainly comprises of giant tree heathers. The park’s vegetation reaches the summits in the Alpine type of vegetation with unique plant and tree species that cannot be seen elsewhere but in the East African highlands located 3,000m above sea level.
Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
This is one of the major reasons tourists will want to visit Mgahinga National Park. Mgahinga’s only habituated mountain gorilla family can be tracked down by a maximum of eight (8) travelers per day. The activity sets off from Ntebeko at 8am with a short briefing by the park management about what to expect and basically how to behave when encountering the mountain gorillas. The hunt for the exact location where the gorillas are that particular day can last between two and eight hours including a full hour spent with the family where tourists can take photos (non-flash photos) and just gaze at the beautiful gorillas; an experience that is limited to just four National Parks in the World including Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The prices of the gorilla permits vary a lot with the change in seasons (the total number of travelers per period of the year). In the low season, East African residents can get a permit at 150,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX) and 250,000 UGX for the high seasons. Foreign residents can get permits at 500$ in the peak season and as low as 250$ in the low season. Foreign residents can purchase gorilla permits in the high season at 600$ and get them at as low as 350$ in the low season. Currently, because of the migrating nature of the Nyakagezi family, Uganda Wildlife Authority has maintained that the gorilla permits are sold at the park.
Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; The Park’s long bird list provides opportunities for tourists to enjoy birding safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla National park. With a long list of over 115 bird species this satisfying experience can last between 3 and 4 hours sighting bird species like the Cape Robin-chat, olive Thrush, Dusky turtle dove, the Rwenzori Turaco, bronze sunbird, Kivu ground Thrush and the Regal sunbird. The most rewarding spots are in the Sabinyo and Gahinga mountains. On the eastern boarder of the park, a stone wall was built to keep the park’s buffalos away from the neighboring farmlands. Along this wall, birders can also enjoy incredible sightings of bird species. It is advisable to move along with a guide who will easily identify the many bird species for the tourists during the birding experience.
Tourists also stand the opportunity to make visits to the neighboring communities and furthermore to mingle with them and just experience how they do their daily duties and also listening to many of their survival technics. An interesting time is the one spent with the Batwa community; some short-structured people with a fascinating history and traditions. The Batwa trail takes tourists through the a number of Batwa daily activities like wild honey harvesting, extracting medicine from plants, and harvesting wild fruits. Tourists will also be entertained by music and dances from the Batwa women. The Batwa trail also includes visits to the famous Garama cave where the Batwa’s king used to have his palace. Going through the Batwa trail should take about six (6) to seven (7) hours to complete.
Guided Nature walks.
Another very exciting activity for tourists to participate in is the guided nature walks. During the nature walks, tourist get the opportunity to discover a lot of unique biodiversity including the fauna and flora species not forgetting the remarkable view of the Congo boarder, Lake Mutanda, the towns of Kisoro and Bunagana and the amazing Gisozi hill’s caldera. The nature walk is conducted with the aid of a guide ranger who not only provides tourists with security but also helps in identifying the different fauna and flora species along the way. The nature walks last about four (4) hours and pass through the Rugezi swamp.
Mountain Hiking/Climbing in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The park also caters for the needs of tourists who enjoy mountain climbing. However, this activity is open to all and only requires an average level of fitness. Tourists do not really need to use expert gear during the mountain climbing; a pair of solid shoes, preferably jungle boots would do. It takes about six (6) hours to hike up the Gahinga Mountain (3,474m); seven (7) hours for mount Sabinyo (3,669m) and eight (8) hours for the park’s highest peak called Muhavura (4,127m). At the summits, tourists can enjoy captivating views of the surrounding ranges, Uganda’s boarder with Congo and the legendary Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Horseback safaris Lake Mburo National Park, Lake Mburo is the only park which offers horseback safaris. This is an entirely new way of encountering the African wilderness on the back of a domesticated animal. Unlike in the game drives where some shy animals run when they hear the sound of the car engines, during the horse rides most of the animals stay because the horses are like fellow animals. The horseback safari is currently being organized and managed by the Mihingo lodge and can last up to four (4) hours. Along the way tourists can see animals like the topi, bushbucks, impala, eland, zebras, duikers and warthogs. The lodge also offers tourists the opportunity to enjoy a bush breakfast as part or exclusive of the horseback safari.
Cultural encounters, Lake Mburo is surrounded by two major local communities, the Bahima and the Banyankole who are both large-herd cattle keepers. There is a cultural center just outside the park which showcases the cultures of the Hima people and preserves the Ankole long horned cattle, a unique breed of cattle which is quickly disappearing due to the introduction of exotic breeds in the region. Tourists can visit the homesteads of these people which are just outside of the park and are free to watch as they carry out their daily duties. The communities have grown used to the tourists and some of them are permissive to tourists to participate in some of their daily activities. The peoples tell very interesting stories and make awesomely entertaining music.
Getting to Lake Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda – How to Access Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
How to get to Mgahinga national park
On a good day with no traffic, the park can be accessed by road over these distances
|From||To Mgahinga Gorilla National Park||Estimated Travel Time|
|Kampala||481km||7 Hours 19 Minutes|
|Queen Elizabeth National Park|
|Ishasha||154km||3 Hours 34 Minutes|
|Mweya||285km||4 Hours 44 Minutes|
|Lake Mburo National Park||283km||4 Hours 37 Minutes|
|Kigali, Rwanda||131km||2 Hours 1 Minute|
|Kisoro||14km||Less than 1Hour|
|Kabale||79km||1 Hour 53 Minutes|
Travelers can reach the park using a long fine tarmac for 434km Kampala to Kabale, (8 hours). From Kabale, travelers can drive through the mountains on a well tarmacked road for 79km with numerous steep mountings and descents for about approximately 2 hours) which leads to Kisoro town. Read More
Safari lodges in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Safari Lodges in Bunyonyi
Birdnest at Bunyonyi Resort
Birdnest Resort can be found just a few kilometers from the three boarders of Uganda with Congo DR, Tanzania and Rwanda. It is next to Lake Bunyonyi an ideal birders pride. Accommodation is offered in very comfortable self-contained rooms which have facilities and amenities like big comfortable beds and private en-suite washrooms. The rooms are regularly cleaned by a dedicated team of staff members. Guests can relax in the lounge in the main lodge area and can enjoy facilities like a pool table, DSTV and free Wi-Fi internet. Meals and drinks are available in the restaurant but guests are free to request for room service for any of the three meals of the day. The Kitchen is open throughout the day and for some hours of the night until 9:00 pm. for guests who travel with little ones; the lodge provides excellent babysitting services between 8:00am and 9:00pm.
Uganda Safari Parks – Uganda Safari Destinations
As of now, Uganda features a count of 10 national parks including Mount Elgon National Park in the east, Kidepo Valley National Park in the north east, Murchison Falls National Park in the north west, Kibale National Park, Semliki National Park and Rwenzori National Park in the west, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Lake Mburo National Park in the south west.
Right from the colonial era, a range of national parks have been gazetted in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo over time and the independent national governments have continued with the initiative.
Uganda is a land gifted by nature. Uganda stands among the many on the continent as the Pearl of Africa teaming with a count of ten National Parks that are spread all over Uganda. The range of biodiversity thrives in these protected areas from which they find their natural protection to push their existence to posterity.The Uganda National Parks present opportunity for a myriad of tourist activities like gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, the forest hiking, birding, classic wild game viewing among other activities explored on safaris in Uganda. Read More
Kibale Forest National Park has thirteen (13) recorded primate species including the L’Hoest’s monkey and its 1,450 chimpanzees which cannot be seen anywhere else in Uganda in such big numbers. The park also has an additional sixty (60) mammal species including the migrant, the warthogs, bush pigs, buffalos, 500 elephants and hippos. Kibale National Park also serves its visitors to four (4) species of wild felids including the leopards and the lions which migrate between Kibale Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kibale National park adjoins with Queen Elizabeth National Park to form a 180km (111 mi) wildlife corridor, and for this reason a number of ground-dwelling mammals cannot be seen regularly. Read More
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the Uganda gorilla safaris & Tours park is conveniently situated in the Kigezi Highlands of south-west Uganda, adjacent to the frontier of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. It was created due to its exceptional biodiversity, with more than 163 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. Various bird species and butterflies, as well as many endangered species, including the mountain gorilla. Read More
Lake Mburo national park has a number of bird species including the uncommonly seen shoebill, the white winged warbler, the African fish eagles and the red faced barbet which can only be viewed in Lake Mburo National Park. In total birders can be delighted to see over 300 bird species in Lake Mburo National Park. Read More
Like three other National Parks in Africa, Mgahinga provides a refuge to some of the world’s remaining population of world mountain gorillas. Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National park, together provide shelter to over half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population. Mgahinga National Park is positioned in the far southwestern part of Uganda in a district called Kisoro about 510km from Uganda’s Capital City Kampala. The park is Uganda’s smallest national park with a total area of 33.7km2. Read More
Mountain Elgon National Park is located on the eastern part Uganda and bisected by the border of Kenya and Uganda. The park is also the largest and oldest solitary, volcanic mountain in East African region. Its enormous areas form, eighty (80) km in diameter and rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna. Read More
Queen Elizabeth National Park which is described as “Uganda’s Great Rift Valley” by Andrew Roberts is the second largest national park in Uganda spanning in the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri. The park was established in 1954 and it covers almost 1,978 square kilometers. It is bordered in the West by Lake Edward and in the North by the Rwenzori Mountains, and is separated into two parts, the Northern and Southern park. Read More
Uganda Gorilla Safari Tours – Uganda Gorilla trekking Safaris
Uganda Gorilla Safaris comes with an exceptional experience that is not only got from encountering the Mountain gorillas but also a tour to different wildlife safari destination of Queen Elizabeth national park alive with tree climbing lions, Kazinga Channel, undertaking an ultimate primate trekking encounter and wetland nature walk in Kibale forest park or visiting the different cultural sites spread in different parts of Uganda.
These together with their unique rich cultural heritage combine to trigger or offer an utmost Uganda Gorilla safari experience.
Long Uganda Safaris – Long Uganda Gorilla Safari Tour & Wildlife Tours
Other Related Uganda Safaris – Uganda Gorilla & Wildlife Safaris
The 7 days Uganda Primate safari tour provides travelers on primate trekking that rare chance to trek the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat of Bwindi Impenetrable national park conveniently positioned in south western part of Uganda. The safari takes travellers through Kibale forest national park. Read More
The 3 days Kibale chimpanzee trekking tour enables you to explore Kibale National Park dubbed the primate capital of the world with largest counts of habituated chimpanzees in the whole of Uganda. The 3 day’s Chimpanzee trekking safari offers you an opportunity to encounter the habituated chimpanzees in their natural habitat.. Read More
The 3 Days Murchison falls Wildlife tour is good tour package that will take you to Uganda largest national park –Murchison falls located in the North Western part of Uganda .The tour will offers you an opportunity to explore the world’s most powerful water fall and have an account of unique wildlife species like giraffes, elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopard among others. Read More
The 4 days Uganda Wildlife Safari to Kidepo Valley National Park is good wildlife tour that entails you encountering Africa’s wilderness park-Kidepo National Park conveniently located in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja region on the far northern frontier of Uganda and Sudan. The 4 days wildlife safari to Kidepo allows you to view wide –range of exciting faunas like the greater and lesser kudu, eland and cheetah, lion, leopard, spotted hyena. Read More
The 4 day Bwindi gorilla trek &Lake Mburo Wildlife Tour is short interesting tour that gives you chance to have life changing experience of trekking the mountain gorillas thriving in the ancient Impenetrable forests in Bwindi. The safari starts from Kampala and it takes you to south western Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable where you will have the best experience on earth to interact with the stunning apes of the mountain gorillas. Read More
This 4 Days Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari will enable you to participate in the highly experiential tourism activities in Uganda‘s Second largest National Park-Queen Elizabeth national park. The 4 Days wildlife safari will allow you to encounter the adventurous launch cruise on the picturesque waters of the Kazinga Channel, undertake an early morning game drive in the well-coordinated Kasenyi tracks and chimpanzee trekking at Kyambura George. Read More
The 12 Days Uganda Classic Wild Safari is one of the comprehensive safari packages that are organized by prime Safaris & Tours for tourists interested in wildlife viewing experience in the Pearl of Africa. This complete Safari package will allow you to explore Kampala Capital City which is destination endowed with different attractions ranging from historical to cultural and religious attractions. Read More
The 15 days, Uganda Wildlife safari is complete safari package that will take you through the most marvels of Uganda the pearl of Africa. The safari offers you an opportunity to take park in the top tourism activities within Uganda’s national parks including wildlife viewing in Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth, Chimpanzee tracking in the primate Capital-Kibale forest Park. Read More
The 16 days Uganda Wildlife Safari Tour is a comprehensive Safari package that entails wildlife viewing, adventure activities, culture tours, scenery viewing, Chimpanzees and Gorillas trekking. It takes you through the cosmopolitan city of Kampala, Jinja adventure Capital of East Africa, Kidepo national park and local Karamojong community, habituated chimpanzees of Kibale, wild game of Queen Elizabeth, gorilla trekking in Bwindi. Read More
5 Day Queen Elizabeth & Kibale Wildlife Tour is an interesting tour package that is organized for visitors interested in trekking the chimpanzees and participating in boat cruise, game drive, forest walk, wetland walk and community tours. The safari tour take you to explore Kibale National Park, home to a total of 70 mammal species, most popularly the thirteen (13) species of primate including the chimpanzees and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Read More
The 6 Days Uganda Wildlife Safari is good safari packages that visitor on Uganda Safari should opt for. The Safari package enables you to explore the two outstanding protected areas in Uganda –the pearl of Africa. The 6 days Uganda wildlife safari starts from Kampala and it takes you to Kidepo Valley National park strategically positioned in the unexplored Karamoja region in the North Eastern part of Uganda. Read More
This 7 Days Uganda Wildlife Safari is complete safari package that is targeted for visitors interested in wild game viewing. The Safari takes you to Murchison Falls National Park- Uganda ‘s Largest National Park with the world’s powerful falls and an account of unique wildlife species like Elephants, Lions, Hippos. Read More
The park’s coordinates are 01°22′S 29°39′E; just 15km south of Kisoro town. The park receives a reliable amount of rainfall with two rainy seasons (February to May and September to December) annually. The least rainfall received is in July while the most rainfall is in October. Being at a relatively high altitude, the park receives a relief type of rainfall mainly.
Mgahinga was first declared a game sanctuary in 1930 by the British administration in order to protect its biodiversity especially the fauna from being hunted down by the surrounding communities. In 1991 the park was upgraded to its current title of a National Park. The park today is operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and organ that is in charge of protecting and managing all Uganda’s ten (10) National Parks.
Although the park is more famous for her only habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyakagezi and its population of habituated golden monkeys the park also has a number of other rarely seen mammal species. The most recent count recorded about 76 mammal species in Mgahinga National Park including giant forest hogs, mountain elephants, forest buffalos, the South African porcupine and the side striped jackal.
This small habitat also has a long and diverse bird list of birds which can be viewed very well while in the Gahinga and Sabinyo ranges. Birders will be delighted to see bird species like the Paradise Fly-catcher, Speckled Mouse bird, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Nightjar Grey-capped Warbler, Double-collared Sunbird, and the White-napped Raven which are just a pinch off the 179 plus bird species in Mgahinga National Park.
The park also offers a well-drawn topography dominated by its three high peaks of Gahinga, Muhavura and Sabinyo which can be hiked by even an amateur mountain climber. The hike does not need expert equipment but a relative fitness level would be an advantage for the tourists who will choose to participate in mountain climbing.
The park is surrounded by mainly two groups of people the Bafumbira and the Bata people; both having uniquely interesting cultures. The Bafumbira are primarily farmers and therefore form the majority. The Batwa on the other hand form the majority and are one of the world’s most marginalized, disregarded groups of people. The Batwa live traditionally; perhaps one of Uganda’s most traditionally authentic community. Along the Batwa trail tourists can see how the Batwa live daily and can also make visits to the Garama cave where the former king of the Batwa used to live. The Garama caves are on the northern edge of the park, just 3km from Ntebeko.
The park’s visitors are accommodated in lodges, guest houses, tourist hotels, resorts and camping sites in and around the park; which cater for the needs of the budget, midrange and luxury customers.