Mgahinga National Park, Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda
Mgahinga National Park is situated 14 km from Kisoro in the south western part of Uganda neighboring Rwanda in the south and Congo in the west. The park occupies the northern slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes i.e Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), Mt. Muhavura (4127 m) and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m) and takes up an area of 33.7 sq.km i.e 8% of the Virunga Conservation Area. Reaching the park will take you only 15 minutes from the Ntebeko Gate. The park is gifted with exceptional climatic conditions that favor the growth and conservation of mountain flora and fauna which relocated to the top and bottom as according to the weather condition i.e warm/ cool. Some of the fauna include the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas.
Activities at Mgahinga National Park
Gorilla tracking refers to the process of transferring from one place to another searching for the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas in their habitat which is the thick montane rain forests. The park is occupied by an habituated Gorilla group called the Nyakagezi Gorilla group consisting of 9 individuals including 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants/ babies. The group relocates to various destinations oftenly so before trekking, we advise you to first find out the group’s current location. The whole activity will take 24 hours with a guide who has clear knowledge of what is happening and this will provide you with the necessary information you need about these endangered primates. While trekking, relax and look out for other mysteries of nature for example the birds of the air, thick vegetation, wild plants and flowers etc.
Want to experience cultural traditions and customs at a maximum; don’t miss out on visiting and exploring Mgahinga’s Batwa community which will entice you with your expectations. These natives inhabit the thick forests where they hunt animals, gather food and get medicine to help them in their day to day lives. These guide visitors through the forest where they will present to them their previous home along with the methods they implemented to survive with in the forest. After the foundation of the park, the indigenous community was expelled from the forest which made them change their lifestyles as pastoralists. The only period they are allowed to penetrate through the forest is during times when visitors want to explore the ancient lives of the Batwa people in their previous habitat. Here, you will encounter and like the nature walks/ trails along with traditional inheritance.
These illustrate unique methods of hunting, gathering honey, identifying medicinal plants as well as making bamboo cups. While in the forest, you will be invited to the sanctified Garama Cave which once acted as a safe haven for the Batwa and here, women in the community will present a grieving song which will echo strangely within the dark cave hence making the entire activity very exceptional because we believe that you will leave this place touched. These will be very pleased for your visit to their community will help in improving their standards of living due to the fact that a portion of the tour fee goes to them to cover different requirements like school fees, scholastic materials etc.
There are a variety of different bird species at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park ad these include about 79 different endemic species especially when having tremendous sightings of the gorge between Mt. Gahiga and Mt. Sabinyo. While on a trail through the forests in the gorge, you will view the following birds i.e, Cape Robin-chat, Dusky turtle Dove Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Kivu-ground Thrush Bronze Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, Rwenzori Batis, and Streaky Seedeater. At around 2,700m along the Uganda- Congo border you will spot the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco enjoying its habitat to the fullest. You will also spot and listen to high vocals coming out of different bird species like the Chubb’s Cisticola, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Banded Prinia and Doherty’s Bush-shrike.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Hiking in Mgahinga National Park provides guests/ visitors with an opportunity to explore extra mysteries of nature for example, you will view wild thick forest vegetation, bamboo forests, Rugezi swamp, forest birds along with the nearby lakes and agricultural communities. You will involve yourself on a hike of 4 hours through Rugezi swamp and the forest into the Sabinyo Gorge where you will spot birds flying in the air for example the Rwenzori Turaco. This destination is perfect for people interested in bird watching. The walk to the Congo border surpasses various vegetation zones where you will spot the calderas at the top of Gisozi hill. While here, ensure to visit the Kisoro and Bunagana towns where you will view the beautiful Lake Mutanda. One can also track the golden monkey though I 2 hrs along the gentle steep slopes through the farmland to the bamboo forest.
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m)
Mt. Sabinyo consists of 3 defying crests to climb despite the fact that it has worn out with time. In case one climbs up the mountain on the eastern side to the peak, they will encounter different crests/peaks and these will depend on how high you will climb. As you continue climbing, you will reach peak 11 which includes hiking a ridge into the gorges of Uganda and Rwanda hence getting an exceptional experience of both countries. Climbing to peak 111 is very challenging due to the fact that you will have to get filthy on your way up. You will also use various hectic methods like ladders, pulp struggling etc which are not flexible at all. After reaching the top, you will spot all the three countries i.e Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
Mt. Gahinga is situated close to Mt. Muhavura in form of a stack referred to as a “Gahinga” in the local language. This mountain appears bigger than the ordinary pile though when compared to Mt. Muhavura, it is very small. This hike will take you about 6 hrs while moving through the Bamboo forest till the top.The mountain once had a crater lake at the top which has unfortunately turned into a verdant swamp with time and only takes one 8 km to this place.
Mt. Muhavura (4127m)
Mt. Muhavura is a distinctive funnel shaped mountain situated in an area where one can spot the entire surrounding of Kisoro town hence providing tremendous views of the flora and fauna of the park and country. While climbing to the top of Mt. Muhavura, you will pass via the stony surface covered by grass and candid shrubs. The hike will take about 8 hrs in about 12 km upwards and when hikers reach the top, they will spot the beautiful Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi national Park, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, peaks of Rwenzori Mountains etc hence making the whole process exceptional.