Embarking on a gorilla and golden monkey tour in Mgahinga National Park promises an unparalleled wildlife adventure, as it is the only park in Uganda to host both of these endangered primates. Nestled in the remote southwestern corner of Uganda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park protects the Ugandan side of the Virunga Mountains, which includes Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo. This biodiverse park offers a unique opportunity to witness the rare golden monkey and the majestic mountain gorilla in their natural habitat.
Despite being the smallest national park in Uganda, Mgahinga boasts an impressive array of forest mammals, with 39 recorded species, including the renowned mountain gorilla. Other notable mammals include buffalo, forest elephants, golden cats, spotted hyenas, leopards, and various antelope species. The golden and blue monkeys are some of the most endangered primates found only in the Virunga Mountains, and in Mgahinga, you can encounter the golden monkey family during your trekking excursions.
Mgahinga is also a haven for birdwatchers, with approximately 79 bird species calling the park home. Many of these birds are endemic to the East Congo Montane region, making birding an essential part of the gorilla and golden monkey tour.
Gorilla trekking is the highlight of any trip to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The park, along with nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, conserves more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. Each day, only eight permits are issued for the Nyakagezi Gorilla Group, the one habituated gorilla family available for tourism in Mgahinga.
Trekking to find the gorillas typically begins at 08:00 after a briefing at the park’s headquarters. Led by two armed rangers and an expert tracker, you’ll venture into the forest, searching for the gorilla family. The trek can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the gorillas’ location. Once located, you’ll be allowed to spend a magical hour observing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.
Gorilla permits cost $700 for foreign non-residents and $600 for foreign residents. Due to the limited number of permits, booking in advance is essential to secure your spot for the gorilla and golden monkey tour.
Similar to gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga involves tracking smaller and more active primates. The trek takes you into the bamboo forest zone, where you can encounter the delightful golden monkeys. Unlike gorilla trekking, there is no limit on the number of visitors, making it easier to secure permits on-site. However, to guarantee your slot and maximize your time with the golden monkeys, it is advisable to book your permit in advance through your tour operator.
A golden monkey permit costs $100 per person and allows you one hour with the habituated golden monkey family. Alternatively, if you wish to spend more time observing these fascinating creatures, you can opt for a golden monkey habituation permit, which costs $140 per person per trek.
A standard gorilla and golden monkey tour in Mgahinga usually spans at least 5 days and 4 nights. Starting from Entebbe, your entry point into Uganda, you’ll embark on a journey to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. The drive from Entebbe to Mgahinga takes around 10 hours via Mbarara – Kiroro cities, with the option to break the journey and spend a night at Lake Mburo National Park for a game drive safari. Alternatively, you can take a one-hour scheduled local flight from Entebbe to Kisoro airstrip and then a 2-hour drive to Mgahinga.
Once in Mgahinga, you’ll spend a night in Kisoro town, where most accommodations are located. The next day, your adventure begins as you head to the starting point by 7:30 AM, ready to commence either gorilla or golden monkey trekking, depending on the date of your permits.
After an exhilarating half-day in the forest, you’ll have the opportunity to explore other attractions around the park, such as visiting the forest Batwa people’s villages or hiking to the caldera. The following day, you’ll venture back into the forest for another unforgettable experience with the primates.
Accommodation options in Mgahinga are limited, with Kisoro town being the most convenient base for the trekking excursions. Some travelers opt for active adventures, exploring the Virunga Volcanoes or engaging in birding activities.
The best time to embark on a gorilla and golden monkey tour in Mgahinga is during the dry seasons from June to August and December to February. The trails are more manageable during these months, and your time with the primates is more enjoyable without heavy rainfall.
During the wetter months of March, April, May, October, and November, the park experiences heavy rains, and trekking conditions can be challenging. However, some travelers take advantage of the low-season discounts offered by lodges during this time. If you don’t mind the rain and want to travel on a budget, the wet season can be a suitable option.
Booking a gorilla and golden monkey tour can be challenging, especially for first-time visitors to Uganda. To ensure a seamless and memorable experience, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a licensed tour operator like Trek Africa Tours, which has years of experience in organizing such trips.
By reaching out to our consultants at email@example.com, you can secure your permits, plan your transport, arrange accommodation, and ensure a well-organized and enjoyable holiday. Let us take care of the logistics so you can focus on savoring every moment of your gorilla and golden monkey tour in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.