Mgahinga is one of Uganda’s national parks habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas. Located in south western Uganda Kisoro district was gazetted in 1991. This Park is bordered by the Republic of Rwanda to the south and Democratic Republic of Congo to the west and part of the great Virunga conservation area. The majority of the ethnic groups surrounding this park are Bafumbira and Bakiga.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.
Things to See in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.
The partly forested slopes of Mgahinga consists of of the three extinct volcanoes namely Mt .Sabinyo (3669m), Mt.Gahinga (3474m) and Mt.Muhavura (4127m). With afromontane kind of vegetation characterized by cool climate makes it favorable for the mountain gorillas.
Apart from mountain gorillas, there are other animals like bush bucks, giant forest, duikers and the threatened golden monkeys. Birds of different species include crowned crane, Rwenzori Turaco, black kite, crowned hornbill.
Golden Monkeys are very rare primate species and endemic to the Virunga region which spans Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda golden monkeys are only seen in Mgahinga National Park and their striking golden patch makes them look so beautiful than other species of monkeys.
They live in large communities called troops which can accommodate up to 100 members and Mgahinga has so far only one habituated group which is available for trekking and research.
A Golden Monkey permit in Mgahinga costs US$50 while a whole day experience costs a staggering 100$ per permit, however this allows one to be with them for a few more hours while studying them, getting acquainted to their daily behaviors, eating habits, and their general communal chores on a day to day basis.
Things to Do
This park is popularly known for gorilla tracking though these exciting gorillas keep migrating to Rwanda.Therefore tracking depends on whether the gorillas are around.
Volcano climbing and hiking to the 3 peaks of Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhavura provides some of the best views in the country. Nature guided walks, bird watching, and golden monkey trekking and viewing of the Garama cave where the Batwa once lived.