Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda Gorilla in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda Gorilla in Mgahinga National Park was Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari.
Safari Attractions in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mgahinga national park is a second refigium of the world’s most endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda after Bwindi national park. Being a mountainous terrain with dense vegetation cover, the park is able to support the lives of these species. One gorilla family is found in his park and is habituated for tracking while on Gorilla Safari.
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family has 10 individuals including 1 silverback. This is the only Gorilla family group in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. The group is led by Mark, the dominant Silverback, who adores travelling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past few years however, the group has been unwavering and they are trying to settle on the Ugandan side since November 2012, and are likely to stay for a while. In May 2013 when a newborn baby gorilla arrived, increasing the group to 10 members. As a result of this volatile behavior, permits for this group can only be booked at the local Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Local people in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Kisoro district is heavily populated with two main ethnic groups. The most numerous are the Bafumbira who are primarily farmers and the Batwa who once practiced as subsistence hunter gatherer life in the forest. These are interesting groups especially the Batwa who spent much of their ancestral life in the caves of Garama and lived by gathering wild honey, roots and fruits before the park was gazetted. The heritage is rewarding and worth visiting while planning to undertake Uganda safari.
Scenery of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mgahinga national park is gifted with three volcanic peaks that is Muhabura (4127m), Sabyinyo (3669m) and Mgahinga (3474m). The names of the three peaks come to life in translation. Muhabura means the guide and its towering cone is a prominent land mark. During the 19th century its crater still glowed to provide a natural light house for travelers. The rim of older Sabyinyo has weathered into a ring of stubby peaks, earning it the tittle “Old man’s teeth”. These imposing cones over shadow the stumpy Mt. Mgahinga which is named for the local practice of tidying the volcanic rocks that clutter farm land into small piles of stones or gahingas. All the three volcanoes provide an amazing scenic view tempting the travelers to undertake a hiking encounter while on their Safari in Uganda.
Birds in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mgahinga’s diverse vegetation support a variety of birds that can be of interest to a traveler on a Safari in Uganda. This smallest park in Uganda shelters over 115 species of birds including; Handsome Francolin, Dusky Turtle Dove, Rwenzori Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-starred Robin, Equatorial Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Banded Prinia, Grauer’s Warbler, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Collared Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Strip-breasted Tit, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Montane Oriole, Strange Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, among other bird species.
Wildlife in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mgahinga’s eco system is very varied with a number of elements co-existing alongside each other providing those on Uganda Safari with remarkable memories. Regardless of the popular mountain gorillas well known for gorilla tracking, the park also contains wildlife species like golden monkeys which is endemic to the Albertine rift, Others include; golden cats, side-striped jackals, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, buffaloes and elephants though rarely seen.
Vegetation in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Mgahinga’s gradients are roofed with a sequence of different altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowermost region is an area of grass and bush which is undergoing regeneration after encroachment and clearance by farmers. Uninterrupted vegetation starts with montane woodland, trailed by the bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone which comprises giant tree heathers. The arrangement climaxes with the remarkable alpine zone which occurs only on East African Mountains above 3000 and contains bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel. This is of particular interest to eco-travelers on Uganda safari.
Tourist activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Gorilla tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Encounter mountain gorillas on your Ugandan tour by tracking the Nyakagyezi gorilla family. The group tends to move to adjacent forests of Rwanda ad Congo thus can be tracked when available. Tracking starts at 8:00 am at Ntebeko and can take 2 – 4 hours.
What to take.
Solid walking shoes or boots
Rain gear and hat
Drinks and snacks
Porters are available at a modest cost
To protect the gorillas and visitors, the following rules must be adhered to:
No one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhea, is allowed to visit the gorillas.
Do not surround the gorillas but remain in a tight group.
Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas.
If they approach you. Move back slowly
Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
While on Uganda Safari, take the gorge trail between mountains Gahinga and Sabinyo to be exposed to a variety of bird species including; Dusky turtle dove, Olive Thrush, Bronze sunbird, Regal sunbird, Cape Robin-chat, Kivu ground Thrush for 3-4 hours and the Rwenzori Turaco along the Bambo belt. A dry stone wall along the northern edge of the park guard buffalo from encroaching on residents’ farmland and crops but the trail along the wall is ideal for birding. A guided walk from 17.00 – 18.00 is ideal to spot a variety of birds at relaxed and easy pace however the guide should be booked in advance. While an inclination towards the Democratic Republic of Congo takes you through a wetland area where Ibis, speckled mouse bird and fire finch are found.
Cultural encounters in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Traditionally, Mgahinga belonged to the indigenous Batwa who were hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors that hinged on the forest for shelter, food and medicine. After the park establishment, these people were evicted and somehow abandoned their ancient life style but their values still live up to today and are always reinvigorated when undertaking the famous Batwa trail as masters of the land. They depict highest degree of hunting techniques, honey gathering, medicinal plants identification and Bamboo cups usage demonstration. Taking a tour to the sacred Garama Cave, the ancient Batwa refugee and listening to the sorrowful songs performance of the community women echoing eerily around the depths of the dark cave leaves travelers with a remarkable wonder of the fullness of this fading culture. This is one of those rewarding cultural encounters that travelers would ever undertake on their Uganda safari.
Mountain Hiking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
The interesting bit about hiking in Mgahinga while on Uganda safari is that all the three volcanoes can be summited. Mt. Sabinyo, at 3,669m, takes about eight hours to cover the 14km round trip, following a steep ridge up to the peak while it takes around six hours to ascend and descend Mt. Gahinga (3,474m), capped by a swamp-filled crater and giant lobelia. Mt. Muhavura is the highest peak at 4,127m, and this 12km round trip takes around eight hours. The views of Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable forest – the home of gorilla tracking and the Ruwenzori mist peaks are among the rewarding sights while on top of Mgahinga volcanoes.
Nature walks in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Hiking through deep Sabinyo Gorge a massive tear in the edge of Mount Sabinyo presents opportunity for birding including the sights of Rwenzori Turaco. It takes four hours, and traverses the Rugezi Swamp another bird watchers haven. The Congo border walk not only provides an encounter through different vegetation zones, it presents the unique sights of calderas on top of the Gisozi hill, an Ariel view of Kisoro and Bunagana towns and the rewarding physique of Lake Mutanda adding travelers memories of this Uganda safari. The golden monkey track is another encounter on a gentle steep taking over two-hours passing via former farmland to the bamboo forest.
Where to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda
Amajambere Iwacu Camp
This camp is located by the entrance to Mgahinga National Park and is only 12 km from the southwestern town of Kisoro near the Rwandan border. A variety of choice between the campsite, dormitories or bandas. The camp has a wide area for camping as well as five bandas, of which two serve as dormitories all which combine to settle the worries of overnight visitors on Uganda Safari.
Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge
This lodge is located at the boarder of Mgahinga national park providing an easy reach to the park while undertaking a Safari in Uganda. It has a warming open fireplace, massage room, delicious three course meals and blissful views of the mighty volcanic peaks, qualifying it worth of stay while on Uganda safari. Mount Gahinga Lodge has eight attractive bandas that sit at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes. All bandas have their own patio seating area, as well as private bathrooms with composting toilets and bush showers, which are filled with hot water upon request. Lighting is solar powered thus environmentally conscious.
Kisoro Tourist Hotel
Kisoro Tourist Hotel is the most pleasant and comfortable hotel at a budget tariff price. It offers first class accommodations with self-contained rooms. Enjoy the warm atmosphere of the lounge and the authentic fireplace. After your activities in the surrounding area, relax with a massage, sauna or steam bath. All rooms have fireplace, TV – Cable/Satellite, Local Stations, Fans, Hot water, Private Bathroom thus suitable for your stay while on Safari to Uganda.
Kisoro Travelers’ Rest Hotel
Located in Kisoro town 14 kilometers from Mgahinga national park. It is a colonial-style hotel which was more less a second home to famous American ‘gorilla-woman’ Dian Fossey in 1960s while undertaking her research about mountain gorillas in the Virunga area that later provided a basis for gorilla tracking. Available rooms include single, twin, double, triple and a suite.
Countryside Guesthouse Kisoro
This is located along Kisoro to Bunagana Road a few minutes’ walk from the town center and 500m from the Taxi and bus park. It has 14 clean, comfortable and affordable rooms for budget travelers. The rooms include; double and single rooms while there is a provision for self-campers with their camping gardens accommodating 6-10 people in their own tents. Shower and toilet facilities are available for Uganda Safari undertakers however the camping rates exclude breakfast.
How to get to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda Gorilla in Mgahinga National Park
This Uganda Safari destination is located at about 15kms by road south of Kisoro town and approximately 55kms by road west of Kabale, the largest town in the sub-region. From Kampala it takes 540km taking over 8 hours’ drive but if visited as part of the Ugandan tour can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth (3-4 hours) or Lake Mburo (5 – 7 hours). A 4WD is necessary.
The park can also be accessed by a chartered flight from Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip 14Kms to the park gate.
Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and it is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the north west of Uganda at the tip of the western rift valley also known as the Albertine rift, Murchison Falls National Park is in a distance of 311km about 5 hours’ surface drive from the city of Kampala. The national Park covers a surface landscape of 3,440km2 while the wider Murchison Conservation Area which embeds Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves combine to cover 5,308km2. . The Murchison Falls National Park is closer to Masindi town 85km about 2- 3 hours’ of surface drive. The Park is bisected by the River Nile which is the longest river in the world as it makes its way from Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea leaving a natural wonder famously known as Murchison falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the whole world. The feature derives its nomenclature after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal geographical society at the time of its discovery by Sir Samuel Baker. This feature is among the hotspots in Murchison National Park thus should not be missed while on safari in Uganda as it squeezes its self to make the way through an 8m ravine before plummeting 43m Read More About Murchison Falls Park
First established as Kazinga National Park in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated in the west of Uganda nearing the Rwenzori Mountains with snowcapped peaks towering at 5,109m above sea level. The National Park of Queen Elizabeth covers a cross section of the western rift valley floor stretching for1, 978km2 land coverage. Queen Elizabeth National Park is currently the most visited park in Uganda and is listed as a world biosphere reserve. It has rich biodiversity concentration with 95 species of mammals, 600 species of birds which makes it the first in Uganda regarding the bird populations, ten (10) species of primate and 20 predator species. Queen Elizabeth is also a habitat for the tree climbing lions dwelling in its sector of Ishasha, the famous Kazinga channel stretching to 45km long connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, the amazing Kyambura gorge with counts of Chimpanzees not forgetting the range of explosion craters some of which are salty lakes while others contain sulphur. This conglomerate to make Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal destination that can be encountered while on safari in Uganda. Read More About Queen Elizabeth Park
Located in the south west of Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park stretches for 321km2 at an altitude of 1,160 – 2,607 m above sea level. The area is among the East African areas with largest tract of Afromontane forest which existed since the pre historic era and endured through the last ice age forming the ground for great biodiversity concentration with highest number of trees in relation to other areas of its altitude stature. The park has enormous numbers of butterfly species some of which are endemic to the park and it is also holding great concentrations of mammal numbers. Containing about 400 out of 880 mountain gorillas that apparently thrive in the wilderness with none existing in captivity, the impenetrable forest of Bwindi holds the mantle as a great gorilla trekking safari destination. Surrounded by high population density with great agricultural attachment, it’s very interesting that Bwindi still has great biodiversity concentration including; 163 species of trees, 104 species of fern alongside other taxa. 16 species of trees are restricted to the Uganda’s south western region including Lavoa swynnertonii which is globally threatened. Read More About Bwindi Impenetrable Park
Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari. Read More About Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Kibale National Park is found in Western Uganda sharing the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. It covers an area of about 795Sq.km and it one of the last surviving tropical forests in Uganda with over 351 tree species some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall, 70 mammal species, 13 primate species including chimpanzee and over 375 species of birds. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park creating a 180 km wildlife corridor. It is a significant eco-tourism and safari destination, well known for its populace of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It also acts as the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS). The park is surrounded by two major tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga who rely on the park for food, fuel, and other resources with the assistance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Read More About Kibale Forest Park
Traditionally, two brothers settled on the land that the park currently occupies. These were Mburo and Kigarama. One night, Kigarama dreamt of an area flooding and cautioned his intimate brother to relocate from the area. His brother (Mburo) disregarded the dream and refused to relocate to the adjacent hills like what Kigarama had done. Unfortunately, the dream came true and Mburo was drowned by mass floods the filled the valley to form the lake that was later named Lake Mburo while the adjacent hill was named Kigarama in reference to these two brothers. Before the gazettion of Lake Mburo as National park, the place acted as royal grazing area for king of Ankole vis-à-vis other Bahima pastoralists who refer the area to “Nshara – ensinungyi erikwera”. Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kilometers, by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. At 260 square kilometers, the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more Read More About Lake Mburo National Park
The fabled mountains of the moon as described by Ptolemy in 150AD present the most exciting treasure that a visitor on a Uganda Safari would live to remember in his journey memoir. Gazetted as a national park in 1991 covering an area of about 996 Sq.km, received a designation status by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its outstanding natural beauty with Margarita peak standing over 5,109m above sea level and without forgetting its coverage by snow throughout the year despite its closeness to the world latitude (Equator) makes it an attraction worth of encountering. Being a mountain range, it was once described as one of the challenging mountains to climb in the Africa travel magazine. The glaciers like Nyamwamba add spice to its scenic view and the park status assures the wild life of their safety making it their closest habitat. The park shelters 70 mammal species, 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation that differ in its five zones including; montane forest zone, bamboo forest zone, tree heath vegetation zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Read More About Rwenzori National Park
Kidepo National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city. Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah. Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife. Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching. The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which Read More About Kidepo Valley Park
The park covers an area of over 1,121 Sq.km with the fourth tall mountain in East Africa which was the once the highest mountain in Africa far from Kilimanjaro but only to be reduced to 4,321m due to denudation forces. With the last eruption occurring 24 Million years ago, Mt. Elgon can be considered oldest and largest solitary volcano not only in Uganda but East Africa in general. It houses one of the world’s intact largest caldera stretching to over 42Sq.km supported by 4,000 Sq. km base which is the largest volcanic base in the whole world.It was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1929 and in 1940 the area became the Mt. Elgon Crown Forest while in 1951 it became a Central Forest Reserve. Due to encroachment by the Benet-Ndorobo people, the government alloweda 6000 hectare portion of the Reserve for settlement in 1983 though more 1500 hectares were settled illegally and in 1993 the area received a national park status thus can currently be incorporated in your itinerary while planning your Safari to Uganda. Read More About Mount Elgon Park