Mgahinga Gorilla National Park covers 38 km in size, is the Ugandan part of the bigger Virunga Conservation Area, which is a jointly protected area with Congo and Rwanda. It includes three extinct volcanoes: Mount Sabyinyo (3.669 m.), Mount Gahinga (3.474 m), and Mount Muhavura (4.127 m). Mgahinga National Park is part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434 km sq) which includes two adjacent safari parks in Rwanda and Congo.
The park which is a cultural heritage featuring in the history, folklore, and traditional healing practices for local people, covers the north slopes of the three northern Virunga volcanoes Muhavura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. The park derives its name from “Gahinga” Kinyarwanda word for a pile of volcanic lava stone heaps around which cultivation is carried out. “Mgahinga” is named after Mount Gahinga plus the initial of Mount Muhavura.
PARK AT A GLANCE
✓ Size: 38 km
Species found in Mgahinga Park
The vegetation is the one typical of Afro-montane areas, with a consistent bamboo forest. There are 76 mammal species recorded, including buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden monkeys, leopards. 115 bird species have been recorded, including Rwenzori Turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite, and crowned crane. Mgahinga hosts a population of golden monkeys and a few families of mountains gorillas called Nyakagezi a transboundary species to Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Each of the three volcanoes can be climbed with a day trip hike as recommended by the lonely planet, without special Mountain equipment. Visits are organized to the Garama Cave, near the Park Headquarter in Ntebeko, which is 432 m. in length and was once inhabited by the pygmies’ population. The main attraction is the “Gorilla tracking” to the only one habituated family of mountain gorillas which is not reliable due to its crossing the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo).
Several one-day nature walks are available from the gate at Ntebeko (the Sabyinyo Gorge trail and Rugezi Swamp trail), especially for bird watching activities, visit the Batwa cultural center and the Golden monkey trekking is now famous.
Accessibility to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga National Park can be accessed by road or air transport. Kisoro Town at the foot of Mt. Muhavura is about 540 km from Kampala and takes about 8 hours via Kabale on an excellent paved road surface. Public transport by bus is available daily. Mgahinga has located 13 km from Kisoro town and can be accessed by public transport. Kisoro Town can also be accessed by air. The town boasts of a bitumen runway Airfield at Nyakabande.
Accommodation facilities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
For clients who want to visit this park for Gorilla tracking, Batwa trail, or Volcano climbing, accommodation can be organized from the basic Campsite to the luxurious full board hotels, these include Traveler’s Rest, Sky Blue, Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp, Virunga Hotel, Mgahinga Safari Lodge, Rugigana Campsite and Murano Hotel.