Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park covers the Ugandan slopes of three Virunga volcanoes; Muhuvura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. Though small in size, just 33.7km², it adjoins Volcanoes NP in Rwanda and Virunga NP in Congo. These three parks form the transboundary Virunga Conservation Area (VCA), which protects half of the world’s 780 mountain gorillas.
Gorilla conservation on the Virungas dates back to 1925 when the Belgians gazetted the portion of the range in present-day Congo and Rwanda as a national park. The British administration declared the Ugandan section as a game sanctuary in 1930. This was upgraded to National Park status in 1991.
Mgahinga Gorilla NP is home to 76 mammal species, including the endangered mountain gorilla and golden monkey. Other large mammals include elephant, buffalo, leopard and giant forest hog though these are rarely encountered in the dense forest. Though the Park’s bird list currently stands at just 115 species, this includes many localized forest birds and Albertine Rift endemics, including the striking Rwenzori turaco.
What to Do:
- Bird watching – Keen birders can seek rare Albertine Rift endemics and other forest birds
- Volcano climbing – The Park rises upwards to three of Virunga’s six volcanic summits, all of which can be climbed in a day. Views from the peaks – into Rwanda and Congo, and towards the rift valley and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
- Gorilla tracking – following a trail of trampled and snapped vegetation across the slopes of the Virungas to spend an hour in the company of a family of mountain gorillas.
- Golden monkey tracking – the volcanoes are the last stronghold of the golden monkey, which can be tracked through its bamboo habitat on the slopes of Mt. Gahinga.
- Cultural Encounters – Batwa cultural trail and caving
- Mgahinga can also be reached by daily flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro airfield.
- The Park is 524km from Kampala – a surfaced highway that runs via Mbarara and Kabale to Kisoro. The 80km road between Kabale and Kisoro is a winding drive through mountainous terrain with steep ascents and descents. Beyond Kisoro, a rough, 14km road with steep, rocky sections ascend to the park headquarters at Ntebeko.
Best Time to Visit:
The Park can be visited any time of the year because both dry and wet seasons are perfect for different activities in the Park, including gorilla trekking, Golden monkey tracking, and hiking.