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A 4-days safari to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda offers an opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and the chance to trek the rare mountain gorillas. Mgahinga National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and to the west by the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is part of the larger Virunga Conservation area that spreads over the three countries. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7sq km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because, throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as the climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. There are several things to do within the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Activities To Do At Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Flora And Fauna
Mgahinga’s slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowest zone is an area of grass and bush which was formerly encroached and cleared by farmers and is now regenerating. Undisturbed vegetation starts with montane woodland, followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone which contains giant tree heathers. The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which occurs only on East African mountains above 3000m and includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel. The park contains at least 39 species of mammal and 79 birds. Larger mammals include elephant, leopard, buffalo and bush pigs but these are rarely seen. Mgahinga’s most famous resident is the mountain gorilla. Less famous but equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the Virungas and in one other forest in Rwanda. Notable bird species include the Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane.
Mountain Sabinyo has three peaks, this mountain is an extinct volcano in Eastern Africa. Sabinyo is found in three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain is located northeast of Lake Kivu in Rwanda and west of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. Sabinyo is found in three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain is located northeast of Lake Kivu in Rwanda and west of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. Its summit lies at 3,645 metres (11,959 ft) and marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. It also lies within the adjoining national parks established by these countries to protect the mountain gorillas: Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Volcanoes National Park (PNV) in Rwanda, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The slopes of Mt. Sabyinyo are a habitat for the endangered Mountain Gorillas.
Mountain Gahinga lies between Sabinyo and Muhavura and rises up to 3,474 meters. Mount Gahinga has a swampy caldera on its peak believed to be as wide as180 meters. The vegetation across the mountain can be described as afro-montane with bamboo composing the main vegetation. Like Muhabura and Sabyinyo, the bamboo forests on Mount Gahinga are a habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas that live within the park. There are several other species of animals and birds that form part of the Mount Gahinga ecosystem. The golden monkeys are notable to these.
Mountain Muhavura is also known as Muhabura. This is one of the eight volcanoes known as the Virunga Ranges. It is an extinct volcano and lies on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. Rising to 4,127 meters as, Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains of the Virunga ranges. It lies within part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Muhabura lies in both Uganda and Rwanda. It lies partly in Volcanoes National Park (PNV) of Rwanda and in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. This classic volcanic cone is capped by a small lake. Seeing this lake is a modest reward for a 5-hour trek that rises from 1700m to over 4100m. The mountain slopes are characterized by marvelous alpine vegetation.
Gorilla Trekking is the most popular activity that is done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Most travelers to Mgahinga visit the park for mountain gorilla trekking. There is one habituated gorilla family i.e Nyakagezi Gorilla Family. Volcano Hiking- Though gorilla trekking is the park’s most popular activity, Mgahinga merits a visit simply to appreciate the scenery. A choice of hikes allows for all abilities, ranging from the 8-hour return trip to the summit of Mt. Muhabura to gentle strolls across the lower slopes beneath the magnificent three-peak backdrop.
Golden Monkey Trekking
Golden Monkey trekking is one of the top activities that make this park an interesting place for tourists to visit for a primate safari. Challenge yourself and engage in this life-changing activity and achieve an excitement of a lifetime.
The Batwa Trail leads from the base of Muhavura Cave. This walk is conducted by Batwa guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture. The Batwa used to live with the gorillas in harmony within the Mgahinga Forests.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is ideal for birding. Bird through different places including the Buffalo Wall, forests, wetlands and other habitats. Some of the birds to see include ibis, speckled mice, fire finch and many others found in the area. Read More.
Garama Cave Exploration
The 342m long Garama Cave lies beneath a plateau northern edge of the park, 3km from Ntebeko. It is set in the former farmland zone but in earlier times, the cave forest when was occupied periodically by Batwa who used it as a council chamber and a retreat.
Border Trail Hike – No Visa Required
This hike takes you first toward Sabinyo. The trail climbs up the base of Sabinyo for a while through fine montane forest before turning toward the Congo. Along the way, you will get a great view of Sabinyo’s gorge and peaks. Upon reaching the Congo you cut back along the international border. The return leg to the Park Head Quarters is a great section for birding. The two rest huts along the way are good places for a break. Look closely for the golden monkeys and signs of elephants. Hiking time is 5 hours and distance 10 km.
Volcano Hiking/Mountain Climbing
This is a fabulous experience done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that your eyes will not go missing such as the three volcanoes that form part of the Virunga Ranges in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Uganda. Their names include Sabinyo which means Old man’s teeth, Gahinga means Pile of stones and Muhavura which means a guide. Mount Muhavura is the highest among the three Volcanoes with the advantage of viewing other Virunga Mountains from its peak. It can also be viewed from as far as Kisoro town. However, Mount Sabinyo is a gateway to Rwanda and DR Congo while in Uganda, while at the peak you’re geographically standing in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the same time. And the way that heads to the summit of Sabinyo is filled with mushy vegetation whose uncomfortable impact can be voided by dressing code in waterproof hiking boots. One to be able to climb up Mount Gahinga requires a hike through a bamboo forest. All three of these mountains can be climbed up to their summits in a day as long as you are in good health.
This 4-day itinerary offers a balanced experience of gorilla trekking, tracking golden monkeys, and immersing yourself in the culture of the Batwa people. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is known for its breathtaking scenery, and the chance to see gorillas in their natural habitat is a truly unforgettable experience. Be sure to secure your gorilla trekking permits in advance, as they have limited availability and are in high demand.
Please note that this is a general itinerary, and the actual duration, activities, and accommodations may vary depending on your preferences, available time, and the specific arrangements made with you. It is advisable to consult with us to customise your itinerary and make any necessary adjustments.
- 4×4 safari vehicle with fuel
- Local english speaking Guide/Driver
- Full Board Meals Plan
- All park entry fees and Activities
- All local taxes
- Wi-fi and Bottle of Water
- Entry Visa Fees
- All Air fares
- Meals where not provided
- Alcoholic drinks
- Porter fees while trekking
- Personal Insurance
- Personal shopping bills
- Items of personal nature