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Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga national park has gone down in history as one of the few national parks that provide hostage to the strikingly amazing mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in its flourishing dense forests of bamboo and pristine. The park is located in the undulating highlands of Kisoro District in south western part of the Pearl of Africa

Mgahinga national park is abutting with both the other two national parks known for hosting the endangered gigantic apes; one being Virunga national park and Volcanoes national park since it straddles between Rwanda and D.R. Congo.

The park was reborn from a game reserve to a national park in 1991 but it was fully surrendered by the M23 rebels in 2003 after they were taken down and out by Ugandan and Congolese government.  Since it’s the smallest national park in the country, it generally receives the minutest annual tourist arrivals among all other national parks.

Activities to do in Mgahinga national park

Golden monkey trekking.

Definitely these monkeys brim as a glowing flame when the sun shines on their golden skin shining at all points like a constellation. The reflections of this sunshine like color sparked off from the monkey is surely fascinating and proves to the visitors that it’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.

Moving through the thick green grasses and shrubs is a challenging activity but worthwhile during the search of these golden goodies found in the park. This activity starts as early as 8am in the morning with a brief summary of what the trekkers are expected of while on the search. This forest cannot be lifeless with the noises, plays and jumps of these monkeys sighted in different bamboo plantations while in the park. This activity is not as demanding as trekking gorillas since they prefer staying in lowland areas and definitely skipping and jumping high in tree branches.

Gorilla trekking.

The wavy areas of Kisoro district boast harboring about 200 mountain gorillas with one family habituated rendering gorilla tracking as the leading safari activity carried out in the park. Nyakagezi is the only habituated family and has a lot to offer to tourists especially regarding the family’s alarming leadership protocols that are peculiar from what other gorilla families normally have.

Hitting the wilderness as early 8:00am with an experienced game ranger passing through punching tree wings in search of these glorious gigantic apes is what a trek through the brushwood offers before reaching the epitome of the trail. Upon sighting the long-awaited dazzling gorillas, tourists are permitted an hour to watch and appreciate the creatures as they feed, play, groom while in their natural habitats. Usually, only 8 people are allowed per trek as a group excluding children since these mountain creatures are as timid as a mouse and they shouldn’t be provoked in any way.

Hiking the volcanoes.

Not only does the park straddle across D.R. Congo and Rwanda, but also the Virunga volcanoes. This is just fun for Mgahinga visitors because not only do they engage in gorilla trekking but also hiking to one of the three mountains found in the park. Muhabura which locally means the guide offers the most challenging hike in the park since it is the third tallest in the pearl of Africa.

As early as 7:00am, tourists engage with about 10 hours of viewing nature from sightings of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Edward and Rwenzori mountains. The old man’s teeth as a local translation for Mount. Sabyinyo is the oldest of all Virunga ranges and a hike to its summit involves 8 hours to and fro.

The easiest of all the three hikes is along Mount. Gahinga that involves 6 hours of sighting various wildlife like buffaloes, duikers and its summit that initially had a crater before it turned into a swamp.

Batwa cultural tours.

The good old days had Batwa natives inhabiting the lush green thick Mgahinga forests and other magnificent mountains before they were resettled to outside of the park. The Batwa cultural experience takes visitors back in time on a typical cultural experience of these pygmies that involves traditional hunting techniques, cultural songs and dances. And while majority of the individuals left their territories, home is where the heart is for a few endemics that remained close to the park and are always eager to walk the tourists around different cultural trails.

Birding for Albertine rift endemics.

Bird species only endemic to the Albertine rift valley add nature to the pristine surroundings of the park from their enchanting chirps, their beautiful colors, watching them steering their tails and flap their wings so high in the sky. Tourists will stumble about 180 birds including species like handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, olive pigeon, black headed waxbill, green tinker bird, brown woodland warbler, cape robin, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori turaco among other indigenous bird species.

Top attractions in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Mountain gorillas.

The closely related creatures to humans can be sighted from Mgahinga gorilla national park. Here there is only one habituated family that originally migrated from the Virungas. Generally, gorillas attract tourists in parks where they are found but this family is worth sparing for time with its epic peculiar organization. It has four silverbacks including the previously overthrown silverback.

Golden monkeys.

This is also another group of the endangered species considering the fact that its found only in four national parks in Africa. These enchantresses are greatly enjoyed by tourists because besides their beautiful sun shining color, their playful nature of jumping and bouncing from one bamboo tree to another. They are frequent nomads especially in search of areas of bamboo trees and plentiful fruits.

Birds in the park

The birds in this park are endemic to the Albertine rift valley region with the different sounds made by birds like the handsome francolin, grey head, red legs make the park alive and convincing the tourists that nature is what anyone needs to have a feel of life

Volcanoes in the park

Harboring three of the famous Virunga mountains, the park invites avid mountain climbers who find pleasure in challenging summits. Sabyinyo, Muhabura and Gahinga are the peaks from which visitors can choose to hike while getting panoramic views from the surrounding areas like mountain Rwenzori, Lake Edward and Queen Elizabeth national park.

Wildlife in Mgahinga.

Although it’s the smallest national park in the country, it also encompasses about 76 mammal species from other wildlife that includes forest buffaloes, gigantic elephants, bush pigs, bushbucks among other animals.

Best time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

The park is open to tourists throughout the year but peak times occur during dry seasons that span from June to October and December to January. Dry seasons are preferably better than wet seasons, since it presents less strenuous treks and also clear skies helps in capturing better and clear memorable photographs.

Getting to the park.

Tourists can access the park at their own convenience either by road or air transport from Entebbe airport. A road trip from Entebbe through Masaka, Mbarara to Kisoro gives tourists a whole new experience during a 9- 10 hours’ drive ranging from views of the surrounding, various food stuff sold along highways and so much more.

A morning flight from Entebbe sets off at 7:00am and lands at Kisoro airstrip at 8:10 am.

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