Mgahinga National Park
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.
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.
More about Mgahinga national park
Safari Lodges in Bunyonyi
Accommodation in Ntebeko
Accommodation in Kisoro