Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga is smallest national park in Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National park was at first a game reserve in years between the 1930s and 1950s then later in year 1991 it was established as Mgahinga Gorilla National park though it was primarily converted to crop field in lower altitudes. In 1989 Biological surveys were initiated, rangers trained, wire traps destroyed and trees planted. In early 1990s local people were moved to areas outside the national park’s borders. In year 2013 there was a M23 movement where the Congolese rebel group had to surrender the park to the Congolese army after a M23 rebellion.

Mgahinga Gorilla National park is smallest national park in Uganda of about 33.7km.It is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda and it also covers the northern slopes of the three northern most Virunga Volcanoes:  Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m). The park is borders the western parts of Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the southern parts of the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National park is part of larger Virunga conservation area which spreads over three countries but each country protects its percentage or portion of the Virunga’s, in the Park National Volcanoes and Park National Virunga respectively. These three parks together make the 434-sq.km. Mgahinga National park is 33. 7sq.km, just 8% of the Virunga Conservation Area. The whole park is in Bufumbira county which is located in Kisoro district in Uganda.

The park is at 33. 7sq.km and it is covered by forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. The vast cones of the Virunga volcanoes take over the landscape and beckon as you approach. After reaching the park you can get a good overview of the park through walking up to the viewpoint, from Ntebeko gate is just 15 minutes.

Mgahinga Gorilla National park is very significant because of the climatic changes starting from the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains providing shelter for mountain animals and plants.  These move around the slopes due to climate becoming cooler or warmer. The Virugas are habitants for wildlife and not missing out for sheltering endangered mountain gorillas.

Important to note, the 80km segment between Kabale and Kisoro is a mountainous, winding drive on murram that takes at least 2 hours, while the park gate at Ntebeko sleeps on a bumpy 14km which is 30 minutes to the south of Kisoro.

Location.

Mgahinga borders Congo and Rwanda and is just 14km from town of Kisoro. The park is located in the south western corner of Uganda and from Kampala is 540km.

Geography

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is situated in the Virunga Mountains and it comprises three inactive volcanoes, specifically Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Muhabura. In terms of altitude the national park ranges from 2,227 – 4,127 m which is 7,306 -13,540 ft. This watershed area is part of the River Nile. It is adjoining with Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and then southern sector of Virunga National Park which is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Climate

This area receives rain in February-May and September-December. The monthly average rainfall differs from 250mm in October to 10 mm in July.

Biodiversity (Flora and fauna)

The park consists of mountain gorillas, western tinker bird and bamboo forest. Albertine Rift montane forests, and Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands with tree heath. Let’s talk about the biodiverse of fauna and vegetation here.

Fauna

The park has almost 79 birds and 39 species of mammals. The larger mammals include alpine zone at higher altitudes, bamboo forest, black kite and crowned crane, crowned hornbill, Rwenzori turaco, elephant. The uncommonly seen mammals are bush pig, buffalo and leopard. Mountain gorilla is the famous resident that is found in Mgahinga. Golden monkey is less seen and not well known in the park however it is in the Virunga’s and also in the forest found in Rwanda.  Bird species include western tinker bird.

The primates that are present in the park are, golden monkey known as Cercopithecus kandti and mountain gorilla known as Gorilla beringei beringei. Talking of the endemic birds in the rift valley, the following can be spotted in the park. That is, dusky crimson-wing, handsome spurfowl, red-throated alethe, Rwenzori turaco, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori batis, collared apalis, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, mountain masked apalis, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, Archer’s ground robin, regal sunbird, montane nightjar, red-faced woodland warbler and strange weaver and Grauer’s swamp warbler

Vegetation

Mgahinga has slopes that are covered with diverse altitudinal group of vegetation. The lowest zone has grass and bush that was once encroached and cleared by farmers but now it is again growing. The wonderful vegetation starts with montane woodland, montane forest, bamboo forest and Ericaceous zone which has giant tree heathers. The classification climaxes with a specular alpine zone that occurs in parts of East African mountains alone and in areas above 300mm. These comprise of bizarre giant forms of groundsel and lobelia.

In general, Mgahinga has a favorable climate that supports the sub alpine zone and the zone is in two divisions, that is, the Afro montane belt and the moorland zone.  The vegetation in the park has ground plants that are capable of growing even in cold conditions. During this level, mammals are rare but small rodents may be seen rushing to search insects as the butterflies’ fly over rare flowers and the raptors soar on the thermals.

Afro montane forest covers the smallest portion since the vegetation type is continent. The park has woodland but only a small portion of montane forest is still remaining at the base of Mount. Muhabura and thus a result of encroachment of the 1950’s. Montane woodland is a forest that has dense ground cover. Mgahinga trees that are at the slopes grow with wild herbs and shrubs since in the 1980’s there was encroachment on the park by local farmers who live near the park and thus the tilled gardens have grown into grasslands and shrubs. The local farmers used to cut the trees for their own purposes and a few survived. The small mammals like hiding from their predators in this forest and also they search for their food here undergrowth. The main montane forest tree species may grow even up to an altitude of 3,200m and mostly it can be used for medication. The ground cover is composed of mosses, liverwort, grasses and grasses.

Overhead off the Montane forest belt, their lies the bamboo zone which stretches from the western boundary of the Mountain Sabinyo and also underneath it is Gahinga Mountain. The Afro-Alpine belt is categorized by Lobelia species and giant senecio with well-known plants that happen in relatively mountainous areas. There is Ericacious belt that reaches its extreme advancement on Mt. Muhabura. The commonest plants in this area are Lobelia and Haege-nia spp.

Wildlife in Mgahinga gorilla National park.

Mgahinga has slopes that are covered with diverse altitudinal group of vegetation. The lowest zone has grass and bush that was once encroached and cleared by farmers but now it is again growing. The wonderful vegetation starts with montane woodland, montane forest, bamboo forest and Ericaceous zone which has giant tree heathers. The classification climaxes with a specular alpine zone that occurs in parts of East African mountains alone and in areas above 300mm. These comprise of bizarre giant forms of groundsel and lobelia.

In Mgahinga gorilla National park, there is around 39 mammals and 79 bird’s species. Mammals include leopard, buffaloes, elephant and bush pig but they are not common within the park. Mountain gorillas are mostly well- known mammals in the park than golden monkeys because they are very rare in Mgahinga but normally found in the forest of Rwanda and in the Virunga’s hence golden monkeys need protection. Birds are black kite, crowned hornbill, Rwenzori turaco and crowned crane.

Activities in Mgahinga gorilla National park.

In the southwestern Uganda is where you meet Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. It is located on the border of Congo and Rwanda covering 33.7sq kilometers of land.  The park has mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas move around the whole forest in search for food. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has primates that are rarely seen in the world this makes it one of the most attractive tourist site in Uganda and worldwide.

Mgahinga has a thick rain forest with a variety of tree species thus making it a favorite habitat for vegetarians like Gorillas. The food in the park is enough thus migration of people from Congo and Rwanda to this place. Gorilla tracking in Mgahinga National Park is easy to access better than other parks since they’re easily seen in their natural habitats.

Gorilla Tracking in Mgahinga gorilla National Park

Usually, when you arrive at Mgahinga, you will find a guide who takes you through the behaviors of gorillas’ and this will increase your interest to know more about these intelligent gorillas. The lifetime experience with natural beauty gorilla trekking safari begins from Ntebeko entrance gate. It good for one to utilize well his/her time with these beautiful gorillas’ since maximum time allowed to spend with them is one hour.

Transportation Means

If you are from Kampala and you wish to use the road means of transport like a car, you can drive from Kampala via Kabale to Kisoro. It is an 8-hour drive. The easiest and fastest means of transport to access the park is by air. You can book in advance with AAV so that a daily scheduled flight can be booked for you. It takes only 1 hour to reach the park if it is by boarding of a plane from Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip which is near the park.

Best Seasons To Track Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The best tracking period is during the two dry seasons. During this period the park is easily accessed since the paths are not as muddy as it is in the rainy season. In this period the thick forests are easily penetrated into. The two dry Seasons best for Gorilla Safari are; end of February and June to October and mid-December. Though these are the best seasons for gorilla tracking, gorilla tracking tourism is possible throughout the year.

Birding In Mgahinga Gorilla

Birding in Mgahinga is also something that cannot be missed out because of the beautiful scenery it has got. In-between Mt Sabinyo and Gahinga you will observe beautiful birds of different feathers flying together in groups or sometimes you will sight one bird flying alone thus making the scenery look attractive. Rwenzori Turaco can be observed through montane forest and bamboo forest.

The Rwenzori Turaco is seen at about 2,700m on the Congo-Uganda border. There are wonderful birding places at the bamboo belt of about 2,500m above sea level. There is also a tall montane forest of about 2,660m.  there are also vocal inhabitants at the forests edge of the tangled vegetation and they include; the Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Banded Prinia, Red-faced Woodland Warbler and Chubb’s Cisticola.

The Cape Robin-chat, Streaky Seedeater, Kivu-ground Thrush, Black-headed Waxbill, Olive Thrush, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis and Dusky Turtle Dove are sighted in the gorge trail between Sabinyo and Gahinga.

Cultural Encounters In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Batwa Trail

For decades, Mgahinga acted as a defense forest for the Batwa. It was like their home. Batwa were hunter gatherers who depended on the forest for food. They were also fierce warriors who depended on the forest for war and medication. The forest was also a source of shelter for them.

Emerging of the national park caused he eviction of the Batwa hence had to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and try something else. The cherished culture of Batwa still exists and this is expressed by allowing the Batwa to act as tour guides in the forest and talk about the Batwa trail. The only way to preserve culture is allowing the community to participate in the preservation of their own heritage. The cultural heritage of Batwa and their magic is felt when touring their ancient homes. I can tell you it I interesting.

The Batwa gather honey, show the techniques of hunting and the medicinal plants used to heal different diseases. They teach also how to make bamboo cups. The sacred Garama Cave is a heritage cave for the refuge Batwa. Visitors are allowed to access this cave and they are entertained by the women of the community. They perform a sorrowful song which brings in mind the rich of culture the Batwa have but is in vain of fading away.

When tour fee is paid, these musicians are paid a portion and also the community gets a share so as to facilitate and improve the livelihoods of the Batwa.

Hiking And Nature Walks In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Hiking through Sabinyo Gorge forest gives a chance to sight good birding opportunities and also provides opportunities to spot Rwenzori Turaco. The walk is estimated for four hours and you will have to pass through Rugezi swamp where a good birder will be overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery of birds.

Hiking on the foothills of the volcanoes of the Virunga gives tourists an opportunity to sight wonderful agricultural villages and surrounding lakes, forest birds, bamboo forests, Rugezi swamp and wild vegetation.

Golden monkey track is a wonderful two-hour trek from the former farmland to the bamboo forest. When on Virunga Volcano range you can sight duiker and buffalo but it is best viewed during a clear day. More so when walking to the Congo border you find different vegetation zones. Hiking around Gisozi hill makes a hiker to sight Kisoro, lake Mutanda and Bunagana.

Mountain Climbing in Mgahinga 

The three volacanoes can be covered in three days each taking a day. On the peaks you take a look in Rwanda, the Rwenzoris, DR Congo, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Virungas and Lake Edward. Mt. sabinyo is at 3,669m and it takes eight hours to cover it. It is around trip of 14km. it takes six hours to cover Mt Gahinga which is at 3,474m.  it is a swampy topped filled crater with giant lobelia. On climbing Mt Gahinga, a lucky climber will spot golden monkey on their way to the bamboo forest.

Mt. Muhavura has the highest peak at 4,127m.  It has 12km round trip and also takes around eight hours. Once at the top, on a clear day hikers will spot Lake Edward, Virunga Volcanoes, Impenetrable Forest,Bwindi and the peaks of the Rwenzori.

To know more about fees and bookings visit out Africa Adventure Vacations page.

Things to watch out for while on a safari in Mgahinga Gorilla National park.

  1. Mountain Gorillas.

Talking of Mgahinga Gorilla National park’s main attraction, the main attraction is mountain gorillas, Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga National park make a big portion and Uganda protects its portion on the Virunga’s, where the imposed strings of 9 freestanding active and extinct volcanoes run across the borders of Rwanda and Congo.  These Gorilla groups frequently come in and have temporary habitation for a few months at the stretch.

These Mountain Gorillas stay in the high hills and mountains of elevations that are almost 8,000-13,000ft above the sea level. Mountain Gorillas have thicker fur if compared to ape’s like bonobos, chimpanzee and baboons. Their thick fur that provides. Mountain Gorillas warmth enables them to survive in a residence where you find temperatures drop below the freezing point.  Because of human innervations, the gorillas have opted for staying up in mountains for a quiet long time thus forcing them to survive the dangerous and deadly conditions.

Important to note.

Mountain gorillas are the most endangered primate species and in the entire world, they are only found in just three countries, that is, in Uganda, Democratic Republic of congo (DRC) and Rwanda. There are four parks of which two are found in Uganda, another one in Rwanda and finally one in Democratic Repulic of Congo (DRC). Mgahinga gorilla National park is one of the four parks with mountain gorillas and it is located in the forested mountains in southwestern Uganda.  Therefore, mountain gorillas are largely found in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla National park in Uganda, Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  According to the statistics, mountain gorillas are more visited if compared to Cross River Gorillas and Western gorillas.

Gorilla Watching in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable National parks are the only parks in Uganda with the endangered mountain gorillas. The parks were gazetted by the Uganda government. Since mountain gorillas are the main attractions in the park, so many guests come for gorilla trekking.     However, there are a lot of other wildlife living in the forest. Nyakagezi Gorilla group that is habituated, is the only group currently there to help the gorilla tourists.

In Mgahinga Gorilla National park, mountain gorillas live in different types of families, whereby each family is headed by the strongest male mountain gorilla that is normally known as a silverback. The silverback is responsible for protecting or caring for each of its member in the family against any interruption and mostly it decides the daily routine. Silverback also leads its family into different parts of the park looking for a fresh plants leaves and places where they can build on their new nests for the night.

Tracking mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National park is somehow tiresome since mountain gorillas are mobile animals and so it can take you about 1-8 hours while searching for them.  You can track them through hiking the forest looking for their movements by following their trails as directed by guides. Some mountain gorillas can be seen in short period of time like 1-2 hours as you know that mountain gorillas are stubborn, they tend to go far away to the highest slopes of the mountain and this one will take you longer hours while walking and looking for them.

Gorilla Families found in Mgahinga National park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National park has only one habituated family of mountain gorilla which is known as Nyakagezi gorilla group. In this group, there are nine (9) members of which 1 is juvenile, 2 are child another 2 are female adults and 4 are silverback. Since they are always moving while searching for their food and other needs, so it is advisable to first check the current location. Gorilla tracking is energetic and usually takes the whole day. The guides take you through hiking and even explain to you about mountain gorilla’s lifestyle and their behavior along the way. The tracked mountain gorillas are habituated and they can be seen standing in their environments during the tourist’s presence. Tourists are also permitted to be with them so that they can have fun like taking photographs with mountain gorillas but all this must be done within one hour. This is because mountain gorillas are similar to human beings with almost 98% DNA, so being closer to them for long hours it may easily cause contracting of human diseases. Visitors being with mountain gorillas for long hours reduce the chances of behavioral change among the mountain gorillas. After tracking mountain gorilla’s, visitors are taken back by their guides to the national park headquarters to be rewarded and this is done by giving them certificates of participation.

All you need to know About Mountain Gorillas.

 Mgahinga Gorillas’ natural habitats refuge tropical and sub-tropical forests. They stay in the Albertine Rift Montane forests of the Virunga Volcanoes that range on an altitude of 2,200-4300 meters. Therefore, the natural home for Gorillas is to live in rich and green vegetation.

Food & Diet

Mountain gorillas feed on plant leaves, fruits while lowland mountain gorillas mostly feed on fruits. Mountain gorillas also eat seeds and tree bark and most especially during dry season when there are few fruits available. Fruits normally grow on trees thus each gorilla climbs one of these trees to pick them and eat. Male gorillas especially adults can eat more than 18kg of vegetation in one day. Since mountain gorillas usually eat juicy fruits, they do not take much water. Gorillas feed on plants such as thistle, wild celery and nettles which is about 150 types of plants. Bracket fungus and bamboo are the most important trees. The bamboo shoots contain 84%o of water and flowers, stems, trocatea, roots, blackberries and soft bamboo leaves especially during the rainy season.

The teeth of mountain gorillas look like those of human teeth and they have a strong chewing muscles which help them to process these masses of plant materials.

  1. Golden Monkey Tracking.

Mgahinga gorilla National park has another activity that not in any other parks. The activity is called golden monkey tracking and it has common ones as blue monkey, the bamboo- associated taxa primate mentioned as “endangered” by the World Conservation Union. Golden monkey has some black limbs, cheeks, bright orange- gold body, crown and tail end. They are endemic to the Albertine Rift.  The golden monkeys were common in Gishwati Forest Reserve that is located in Rwanda. But later most were destroyeds due to the 1994 Rwanda genocide and some sources assume that few in population returned after the genocide and are spotted in the south of Nyungwe Forest National Park that is also located in Rwanda. In Mgahinga National Park, a population of 3000- 4,00o golden monkey have a home here.

Golden monkeys are endangered and also are endemic to the Mgahinga region. The fact that they share the same home with mountain gorillas forest elephants, reptiles, buffaloes, birds and more mammal species. In the past and present it is very hard to see monkeys owing since they are small in size compared to gorillas. They don’t leave their presence evidence behind and also they don’t make nests and also they are always quiet especially when the main predator, eagle is available. If they are not used to you, they just run away.  But when they get used to you, you will have an insight on their life styles. The biggest problem to golden monkey trekking is weather.

Weather contributes a lot on the trekking of golden monkeys. When its windy, you can track the golden monkeys as you slope and sometimes they keep silent in the mid canopy since they like hearing their predators from distant and when trees are blowing you can’t hear and know whether it is a monkey moving or it is wind blowing. When it is raining, monkeys don’t move instead they take their shelter and this enables visitors to have a closer look at them.

Golden Monkey Tracking Permit

Permit for golden monkeys in Uganda have different prices for example, permits for foreign non-residents costs $50 per person, $40 per person for foreign residents and Shs 20,000 for East African Residents, the costs also include park entrance fee, an hour a visitor spends with the golden monkey and the guide fee, then permit for golden monkey habituation experience costs $100 per person

 For more information about how to book a Permits you can visit our web site of Africa Adventure Vacations.

Conducting golden monkey tracking.

After the arrival of the tourists at the park headquarters for briefing on the dos and don’ts of golden monkeys tracking. The activity starts at 8:00am immediately after briefing that means tourists are supposed to reach at around 7:30am. It is advisable to keep time when you are going for golden monkey tracking. Hiking forest searching for golden monkey is not too energetic like mountain gorilla tracking, the reason is that golden monkeys usually live in lower areas, in many cases tourists take 1-2 hours to see them something that is not common to mountain gorillas. After tourists tracking a golden monkey family, they are allowed to spend time with them for one hour as you take photographs as well as observing their behavior. Another thing during this activity is that there is no limited number of tourists but the age limit is 12 years.

Things you need for golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga.

Golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga gorilla National park is a memorable experience that someone will never forget, therefore, there are several requirements that a tourist needs so as to have wonderful moments. These include long sleeved shirt, long trousers, waterproof hiking boots, packed lunch and snacks, drinking water, documents and a walking stick to help you during hiking. You can also hire a porter to support you when hiking in slippery areas and insect repellant is very important to you.

  1. The peaks

Mgahinga has three volcanoes, these include Mgahinga (3474m), Sabyinyo (3669m) and Muhubura(4127m). They can be climbed with one specialized equipment for other activities while the level of fitness is necessary to enjoy this experience.  Muhabura when translated means the guideline and its very high cone is a prominent land mark. The crater offers natural lighthouse for the travelers. The frame of the grown-up Sabyinyo has weathered into a circle of thick peaks thus being the called Old Man’s Teeth.

Mt. Sabyinyo.

For Sabinyo sake, it has 3 peaks. There is an ascent that first leads you to Peak 1 before climbing towards Peak 2 which is on a narrow ridge that oversees magnificent drops into deep gorges on each side. Peak 3 reaches the steep and muddy ascent. The boundaries of the three countries converge on this peak and you will discover yourself when you are in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The round trip that is 14km takes you 8 hours.

Mt. Gahinga.

A rise of Mt. Gahinga starts by climbing through bamboo forest as you head to the lush swamp which is found in the crater at the summit. This round trip from Ntebeko is almost 6 hours.

Mt. Muhavura.

Mt. Muhavura is a volcanic cone that is capped with small crater lake and the trek takes you 5 hours to climb 1700m – 4100m. It has wonderful alpine vegetation and the Muhavura trail gives a visitor the shortest and quickest route to spot the vegetation, Virunga volcanoes, lake Edward, rift valley and Mountain Rwenzori. It is almost 8hours for this round trip. If you have equipment’s and you feel like camping, you can camp at the ranger post which is found at the base of the volcano. This will give you a chance to wake up and start the day early and you are going to have a clear view.

  1. Local people.

Kisoro district is populated with over 331 people and it also has two ethnic groups, that is Bafumbira who have the frequent number and they are predominantly farmers.  Batwa culture are the minority group and they practice subsistence hunter-gathering life in the forest.

  1. Ntebeko Visitor Centre.

Ntebeko is the place where park activities are arranged from, it is a great viewing point of the park and its surrounding areas because it is just 800m uphill from the visitor Centre. Ntebeko visitor Centre is for free and guides are not necessary.

Best time to Visit Mgahinga gorilla Natioanl park.

Many of travelers wonder about the best time to visit Mgahinga. The answer is that this park can be visited throughout the year. Its climate is favoring and makes adventure activities to be possibly accessed throughout the year. Many activities can be participated in throughout the year but the best time to visit the park is during the dry season of June – September and December – February. During this period of time, the hikes aren’t muddy and slippery.

Dry Season

During the dry season, gorilla permit and accommodation facilities demand is high. Therefore, travelers who are planning to travel to Uganda are advised to book 5 months’ advance permits so as not to be disrupted or disappointed.  However, during the dry season, the view is not clearly well due to the hazier air that is related with the dry season hence gorilla trekking not being extraordinary.

Wet Season

During the rainy months of April – May and October – November are not recommended to tourists since the tracking conditions are not favorable due to the muddy and slippery trails which make the tracking very difficult. In the same season, there is a lot of hailstorm and misty that make it difficult to spot birds and wildlife from distant places. However, the season is better than the dry one in terms of offering the best scenic view. This is because after raining, the mist disappears and the scene is clear which is not the case with hazy air of dry season. The vegetation is greener in the wet/rainy season and a breather of the scenery is felt.

During rainy seasons, even gorills permits are discounted for all the non-residents and foreign residents, East African citizens also enjoy the discount thus allowing each to save some good money if compared to the normal prices of gorilla permits during dry season. Wet season is also the best season for bird watching since the migratory bird species such as Brown chested lapwings can be seen within the park.

Visitors travelling to Mgahinga National park should remember that weather and climate predictions cannot be 100% correct due to the high degree of global warming.  You can be expecting it to be a dry season and only to see, you can see the place abruptly receiving rainfall thus tourists get dissatisfied since they did not plan for it. Therefore, it is good to wear a rain jacket, rainproof backpack, long trousers, rainproof hiking boots and long sleeved shirts before venturing into the jungles regardless of the seasons. This will allow you to be ready for the unforeseen.

Finally, Mgahinga National park can be accessed at all time that is best for the tourist. Extreme tracking experiences are attained when travelers visit the park in the dry seasons of June – September and December to February. The tracking circumstances during the wet season of months April, May and November are not satisfactory.

Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla National park.

Mgahinga is 14km from the smallest town of Kisoro which is located on a rough ascent road and this will take you 45 minutes to reach. A 4WD vehicle is the best to use on this road all the time and is more recommended during the Wet seasons. The park is 510km from Kampala and it is nine-hours’ drive.  It can also be accessed by use of the road which is from Queen Elizabeth or Lake Mburo.

By Road:

When coming from Kampala going to Kisoro takes you about 540 km and the journey to the park will take you 10 hours with no rests or stops and to reach Kabale, it will take you about 8 hours.

Public transport means are available and the commonest used ones are buses and minibuses. They usually break off at 7: 00 am from Kampala Uganda’s capital city up to Kisoro town. The distance from the town to the park is not big for those ones who are strong enough or you can hire a cab to the park gate.

By Air:

Visitors can also decide to charter flights and this can be arranged from Kampala- Entebbe airport as you fly to Kisoro airstrip. Your entrance point into Uganda is Entebbe International Airport which is placed about 46km from Kampala capital city. You are likely to board a domestic flight from Entebbe

Costs for Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks

Gorilla Permits

In order to watch the gorillas in the park of Mgahinga, it is a required to have a valid gorilla permits. A gorilla permit is a consent that is given to all those interested in hiking/ trekking gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC. Gorilla permits for Mgahinga National Park are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda.

Holding a gorilla permit gives you a chance to watch the mountain gorillas for a maximum of 1 hour in the wildernesses of Mgahinga National Park. Mountain gorillas live in three countries of DRC in the Virunga National park, In Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and in Bwindi’s impenetrable national park of Uganda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National park is available for tourists who are interested in mountain gorilla trekking, it is one of the best places where mountain gorillas can be spotted. Gorilla permits of Mgahinga Gorilla National park are at the same price as those ones of Bwindi impenetrable forest National park and according to the Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA). The costs of Mgahinga gorilla permit is $700 per person for foreign non-residents, $600 per person for foreign residents and Shs. 250,000 for East African citizens. You can book gorilla permit through our web site of Africa Adventure Vacations. The age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years and above and only 8 tourists are allowed to visit mountain gorillas each day.

Things a Gorilla Permit has.

Once a visitor gets a gorilla permit, he or she is allowed to track and see gorillas for one hour and the permit also includes park entrance fees. So you are not charged other park entry fees for gorilla tracking while practicing other activities in the park, you will pay park entrance fees separately. In addition, gorilla permit also includes the guides or ranger fee but the tourists can decide to tip them on their own wish for appreciating what they did because these guides are the ones who help visitors in the forest searching for mountain gorillas, so one can decide to tip him or her.

The security is also included on the gorilla permit, since this activity is carried through walking in the forest so the security is very important. The tourism police and Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) rangers are the ones responsible for security in the park. While other things like meals, accommodation and transport are excluded on the gorilla permit. These are booked separately by the help of your local tour operator.

How Many Permits are available for Mgahinga?

Mgahinga gorilla National park has only one habituated gorilla family and this family has 9 members that is the Nyakagezi gorilla group unlike to Bwindi impenetrable forest National park where there are 13 gorilla families. This means that Mgahinga gorilla National park has only 8 permits available per day hence visitors for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga gorilla National park are advisable to book their permits as soon as possible for better arrangement so that they do not miss out the tour. We recommend that you check for availability and book in time, at least three months in advance, those ones who are interested for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga should please contact us or send us an email and we help you to check its availability at Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA).

Accommodation in the Mgahinga National park.

Mgahinga Gorilla national park has got finest and various lodges nearby that make you feel you are in your own home. Therefore, no worries when it comes to accommodation in the area. These are located in Lake Mutanda, Kisoro and Ntebeko. Volcanoes mount Gahinga Safari lodge and Amajambere Iwacu camp are located in Ntebeko.  Lake Mutanda Chameleon Hill Lodge is situated at Lake Mutanda.  Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel and River Mucha Hotel are located in Kisoro.

Mgahinga gorilla National park ranges lodge of different types like budget, midrange and luxury with good guest rooms and suites for comfortable stay at lower rates. These include;

Top Safari Lodges in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mount Gahinga Lodge.

Mount Gahinga lodge gives you the best luxury accommodation to the Mgahinga Gorilla National park tourists exploring.

Mount Gahinga Rest Camp

Mount Gahinga rest camp is good for tourists who wish to visit the camp, there is sufficient space at the park gate and Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp. There is an excellent traditional Banda’s that is being managed by the local community.

Bwindi Jungle Lodge.

Bwindi jungle lodge is nearby lake Mulehe and it also provides accommodation to the tourists of Mgahinga gorillaNational park.

Volcanoes camp.

This lodge is located at Ntebeko, it offers luxurious accommodation.

Community Campground

Community Campground is a budget lodge and it is also good for camping, they also have basic cottage.

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