At the extreme southwestern tip of Uganda on the borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo lies Uganda’s smallest national park covering 33.7 square kilometers. The Park was established in 1991 and is also one of Uganda’s newest national parks. It is an integral part of the Virunga Conservation Area and is contiguous with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most travelers who visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park come to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The park is home to about 60 wild mountain gorillas, only one habituated gorilla family is active for trekking every day. The Nyakagezi gorilla family consists of 10 individuals; 5 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 infants. The cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda is US$ 700 per person for foreign non-residents, US$ 600 for foreign residents, and US$ 70 for East African citizens.
Golden Monkey is a beautiful monkey with high rufous-red on the back, cheeks, and tail. The monkey has black legs, a crown, and a tip of the tail, pale patch around the nose and mouth. Golden monkeys live in groups of between 30-60 individuals; each group is led by one adult male.
In the whole world there are only three countries where you can see golden monkeys namely Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But in these three countries, only Uganda and Rwanda are the best sites for golden monkey tracking. There are about 4500 endangered golden monkeys left on the planet. Golden monkey permits in Uganda cost US$ 100 per person for foreign non residents.
There are also several exciting hiking options to take while at the park which showcase Mgahinga’s dramatic views, lush vegetation, and wildlife. Visitors may for instance attempt the full-day challenging climbs to the tops of three mountains namely Mountain Muhabura and Mountain Gahinga, whose summits offer a great view of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. You’re bound to see lots of unique alpine vegetation and a small volcanic lake hidden away at the top of Mount Muhabura.
It takes about 6 hours to ascend and descend Mountain Gahinga (3,474m) topped by swamp filled crater and lobelia. On this trek hikers may see a variety of primates namely golden monkey, blue monkey, L’hoest’s monkey, olive baboon, red-tailed monkey among others.
Mountain Muhavura is the highest peak and it takes 5 hours to summit, at the summit of mountain Muhavura you will be able to see breathtaking peaks of Mountain Rwenzori, Lake Edward, Virunga Massif, Kisoro town, and Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
Mountain Sabyinyo (3,669m) takes about 8 hours to ascend and descend; the summit of the mountain marks the intersection of the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cost of hiking Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Gahinga, and Mountain Sabyinyo is US$ 80 per person for foreign non-residents, US$ 70 for foreign residents, and US$ 15 for East African Citizens.
Approximately 120 bird species inhabit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; the best birding trail in Mgahinga is the gorge in between Mountain Gahinga and Mountain Sabyinyo which offers a breathtaking sighting of rare bird species like Yellow-vented bulbul, black kite, paradise flycatcher, Rwenzori Nightjar, rwenzori batis, rwenzori turaco, Pin-tailed whydah, speckled bird, fire finch among others.
For generations, Mgahinga’s dense forests were home to the indigenous Batwa-hunters-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food, and medicine. Now they lead visitors through the forests and introduce them to their old home and the techniques they used to survive in it.
Two means of transport can lead you to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; visitors to the Park can either use road transport or air transport depending on their budget.
The Park is 510km from Kampala, the most commonly used route passes through Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, and Kisoro district. Ntebeko, the main entrance to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is only 14 km from Kisoro town; Ntebeko park’s headquarters are located on the slopes of the scenic Mountain Muhavura and Mountain Gahinga.
The Park can also be reached by air transport using daily flights from Entebbe International Airport and Kajansi Airstrip to Kisoro Airfield, it’s about 15 km from Kisoro Airstrip to Ntebeko headquarters. There are daily flights to this destination.
There are so many accommodation options for travelers who want to trek mountain gorillas at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park ranging from luxury, mid-range, and Budget.
Luxury – Gahinga volcanoes lodge, Chameleon hill lodge, Mount Gahinga Lodge, and Mutanda lake resort.
Mid-range – Mgahinga safari lodge
Budget – Kisoro travelers lodge, Muhabura safari lodge and 3-way gorilla resort.