Mgahinga National Park is an iconic destination located in the southwestern region of Uganda, East Africa. This park is part of the famous Virunga volcanic mountain chain that stretches across Rwanda, Dr. Congo, and Uganda, which is best known for its breathtaking mountain gorilla safaris. Despite being the smallest national park in Uganda, Mgahinga shares its borders with the renowned Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This park boasts of three magnificent volcanoes, Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Sabyinyo, and Mountain Muhabura, all of which form part of the six Virunga Mountains. Mgahinga National Park is home to the endangered mountain gorilla and the charming Golden Monkeys. The park’s lush vegetation is composed of a tropical rainforest consisting of lowland equatorial evergreen forest, tropical seasonal forest, montane rainforests, and mountain Bamboo, providing a perfect habitat for the park’s diverse wildlife.
Mgahinga National Park is a top tourist destination and one of Uganda’s ten national parks, renowned for its gorilla tourism, making it the second national park in Uganda to specialize in this area. This park is a must-visit for those exploring Uganda, as its beauty and unique wildlife experiences are not to be missed. It is under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government agency responsible for overseeing all conservation areas in Uganda, ensuring that the park remains a protected haven for the wildlife that inhabits it.
Mgahinga National Park is a gem of Uganda and offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some of the must-see sights and things to do while visiting the park.
If you are a nature enthusiast looking for an unforgettable experience, Gorilla Trekking at Mgahinga National Park is a must-try adventure. The park is renowned for its rare mountain gorillas, which can be observed in their natural habitat as they feed, play, and move around. These gentle giants share 99% of their DNA with humans and watching them in their element is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Mgahinga National Park offers one habituated gorilla family for trekking, known as Nyakagezi. Only eight visitors are allowed per day, and they are allowed to view the gorillas for one hour. To secure a gorilla trekking permit, you need to obtain one from the Uganda Wildlife Authority at a fee of USD 700 for Foreign Non-Residents, USD 600 for Foreign Residents, and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens.
On the day of the trek, visitors will be briefed on the regulations to be followed in the forest and with the gorillas at the park headquarters. Experienced guides and park rangers will accompany the trekkers into the dense rainforest on the mountain slopes, which can be challenging with steep climbs and dense foliage. However, the effort is abundantly rewarded with the rare opportunity of viewing the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Visitors will get to experience the gorillas’ daily activities and get within 7-5 meters of these magnificent apes.
After the trek, visitors will receive a certificate for a successful gorilla trek, a memento of this memorable experience. Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park is an adventure that offers an unforgettable experience and is a must-try for nature lovers visiting Uganda.
Mgahinga National Park is not only known for its mountain gorilla trekking but also for its unique golden monkey trekking experience. The golden monkeys are one of the rare primates in the world, and Mgahinga National Park is privileged to have two habituated communities for tracking. To take part in the golden monkey trek, you need to acquire a permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority at a cost of USD 100.
The trek starts with an early morning briefing at 7:00 am at the park headquarters, where you will be informed about the rules and regulations to follow while in the forest. You will then embark on a guided walk through the lush green forest with park guides and rangers until you find the golden monkeys. You will be allowed to view them for an hour in their natural habitat, watching their playful behavior and social interactions.
Golden monkey trekking is a rare and unforgettable experience, as these primates are only found in Mgahinga National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in East Africa. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the golden monkeys’ unique and endangered beauty while visiting Mgahinga National Park.
Mgahinga National Park is not just about gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking. For adventure seekers, it offers a unique opportunity to climb three of the six Virunga mountains – Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Muhabura – collectively known as the Gahinga Ranges. Depending on your fitness level, you can choose to climb any one of these mountains. Mountain Sabinyo, the highest peak at 3,669m, takes about eight hours to complete the round trip. The trek follows a steep ridge up to the peak, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Mountain Gahinga, the smallest peak at 3,474m, takes around six hours to ascend and descend, rewarding hikers with a swamp-filled crater and giant lobelia at the top. Finally, Mountain Muhavura, the tallest peak at 4,127m, offers a 12km round trip that takes around eight hours to complete. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the Virunga Volcanoes, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountain. The hiking experience also presents an opportunity to see different tree species, spot birds, and if lucky, catch a glimpse of Forest Elephants, Primates, and Gorillas in Mgahinga National Park.
The Batwa Pygmies were once the inhabitants of the Mgahinga forest until their evacuation to conserve the endangered apes and primates. However, visitors to the park can still experience their unique culture through the Batwa cultural encounter. This cultural experience offers a glimpse into their traditional forest life, including their food, dance, and rituals. During the Batwa trail, the community members lead visitors into the forest to demonstrate their hunting, fruit gathering, and honey collecting techniques. These trails also support the livelihoods of the communities around the park, with fees and donations to children and women’s groups greatly appreciated. By purchasing souvenirs, visitors can also support the local economy. Embark on a memorable adventure with Trek Africa Expeditions to explore the fascinating Batwa culture in Mgahinga National Park.
Experience the wonders of bird watching in Mgahinga National Park, where nature enthusiasts can marvel at the park’s diverse avian population. With 79 recorded bird species, including some endemic to the East Congo Montane region, birding enthusiasts will find themselves in awe of the park’s feathered residents. Among the species that you may spot are the Dusky Turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Kivu-ground Thrush, Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Black-headed Waxbill, and Streaky Seedeater. Additionally, birders can also look out for inconspicuous inhabitants such as the Chubb’s Cisticola, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Banded Prinia, and Doherty’s Bush-shrike. Birding excursions typically take place at the gorge between Mountain Sabinyo and Mountain Gahinga as well as at the forest age. The birding trail is approximately four hours long, and experienced guides will help identify the different bird species and their distinct calls. Trek Africa Expeditions provides birding safaris and professional guides with extensive knowledge of birding for an unforgettable experience in Mgahinga National Park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda offers visitors an opportunity to explore the forest on guided nature walks. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has established nature walk trails that provide a unique experience for visitors to appreciate the park’s natural beauty. The guided walks can start at any time of the day, depending on the visitor’s schedule. During the walks, visitors will get to see a variety of tree species, forest birds, swamps, and lakes such as Lake Mutanda and Lake Chahafi.
The knowledgeable guides will take visitors on different tracks, providing a thrilling experience as they explain the different plant and animal species along the way. The nature walks are suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and visitors can choose from various trail options depending on their preferences. The guided walks are an excellent way to immerse oneself in the natural environment and learn more about the park’s ecosystem.
Mgahinga National Park, home to endangered mountain gorillas, is an easily accessible destination. Visitors can reach the park from Kigali in Rwanda, located just four hours away via the Chanika border crossing between Uganda and Rwanda. Another option is to travel from Entebbe/Kampala in Uganda, which takes approximately 9-10 hours via the Kampala-Mbarara-Kisoro highway. Alternatively, visitors can take a 2-hour flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kisoro Airstrip with scheduled flights departing daily from Aerolink Uganda and other airlines. Additionally, customized trips can be arranged to include visits to other parks in the area, ensuring an unforgettable experience.
Mgahinga National Park offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors to choose from. The lodges are situated on the outskirts of the forest, providing a stunning view of the forest and mountain ranges. Ranging from budget to luxury, the lodges include Gahinga Lodge, a luxurious hotel, Lake Chahafi Lodge, and Lake Muhele Lodge, which cater to both mid-range and budget travelers. Alternatively, visitors can opt to stay in hotels located in Kisoro town, which is only a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters. For those seeking a different experience, lodges and camps in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are also available, offering a one-hour drive to Mgahinga National Park.
Trek Africa Expeditions is your ultimate guide to exploring Mgahinga National Park, as well as other destinations across Uganda and East Africa. Our team of experienced managers and directors, alongside young and energetic staff, are passionate about providing our clients with authentic and unforgettable experiences. We offer tailor-made trips and discounted packages to suit your preferences and budget.
Our commitment to excellence is reflected in our high rating and reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor and Safari Bookings. By booking with Trek Africa Expeditions, you can trust that you are in good hands, with a team that is dedicated to ensuring your satisfaction.
Whether you are interested in gorilla trekking, cultural tours, wildlife safaris, or simply relaxing in the tranquility of nature, we have something to offer you. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us help you plan your dream trip to Mgahinga National Park and beyond.