Mgahinga National Park, Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Mgahinga National Park is located in the South Western Part of Uganda after the busy town of Kisoro covering an area of 33.9 km2 (13.1 sq mi). It is one of the Virunga Mountains with three different Volcanoes i.e Mountain Gahinga Volcano, Mountain Sabinyo Volcano and Mountain Muhabura Volcano. It adjoins with the prominent Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park in DR Congo. It takes 15 kilometers by road from Kisoro and 55 kilometers from Kabale Town.

It experiences two wet seasons in the months of February to May and September to December with the average rainfall received ranging from 250 mm (9.8 in) in October to 10 mm annually.

It comprises of different species of Flora and Fauna and these include; bamboo forest, Albertine Rift montane forests, Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands with tree heath and Alpine Zones at apex altitudes. Primates include; Mountain Gorillas, Golden Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys etc.

Flora and Fauna

The scenery of mgahinga's slopes is at all time covered with a series of distinctive altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowest zone is occupied by grass as well as bush which was formerly encroached in addition to cleared by farmers and is now regenerating. For those interested in undisturbed vegetation.

Its starts with montane woodland, followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest as well as the Ericaceous zone which further contains giant tree heathers. The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which usually occurs only on East Africa Mountains above 3000m along with includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.

The most exciting thing about the park is that it has at least 39 species of mammals as well as 76 birds. Larger mammals are also present and these include elephant, leopard, buffalo and bush pig although these are rarely seen. Mgahinga's most well known resident is the mountain gorilla. less famous although equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the virungas.

Local people

Kisoro District is largely populated with just about 331 people/km2. The area has two main ethnic groups. The most common are the Bafumbira who are originally farmers. The Batwa, who once practiced a subsistence hunter-gather life in the forest, form a minority group.

Activities to Do in Mgahinga National Park

Bird Watching

Bird Watching is a prominent Safari Activity carried out n Mgahinga National Park due to the numerous species of Birds that inhabit the green forest vegetation around the Park. These include; the handsome francolin, dusky crimson-wing, red-throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, Archer's ground robin, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, strange weaver, montane nightjar, red-faced woodland warbler and Grauer's swamp warbler.

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking is the most prominent Safari Activity carried out in Mgahinga National Park and requires you to transfer from on place to another in the Park’s Forest vegetation searching for the Mountain Gorillas for a period of 3-5 hours. You will transfer with an experienced ranger guide who will inform you about the Gorillas then later, when you meet them, only an hour is allowed to stay in their presence taking numerous photos to keep for memories. After, return back to the headquarters to receive your Gorilla Trekking Certificate to take with you back home. The Gorilla Trekking Permit costs US $600 per person interested.

Hiking and Nature walks

Mgahinga National Park is very ideal for travelers interested in experiencing Nature due to the hiking and Nature Walk experiences it offers to all. These involve trekking to various places in the Park offering unique experiences and these include; the Batwa Trail, Border Trail, Sabinyo Gorge Trail etc. You will watch numerous bird species, wildlife animals as well as primates interact with their natural vegetation habitat.

Cultural Encounters

While at Mgahinga National Park, travelers can as well as visit the Local Batwa Communities to experience remarkable cultural encounters and participate in various activities with these local people. You can do Music, Dance and Drama which will give you a deep insight into the lifestyles of these local people that reside close to the Forest vegetation of the Park.

Mountain/ Volcano Climbing

Mgahinga has three volcanic peaks,muhubura(4127m), sabyinyo (3669m) as well as mgahinga (3474m).These may well be climbed even though no specialist equipment is needed, keep in mind that a reasonable level of fitness is necessary whenever you intend to enjoy the experience.

The names of the peaks happened to come to life in translation. Muhabura means ‘the guide' as well as its towering cone is a very prominent landmark. During the 19th century its crater more still glowed to give a natural lighthouse for travelers.

Furthermore the rim of the older sabyinyo has weathered into a ring of stubby peaks, thus earning it the title 'old man's teeth'.Thes imposing cones overshadow the stumpy mountain. Mgahinga which is cited for the local practice of tidying the volcanic rocks that clutter farmland into 'small piles of stones'-or gahingas.

Mt. Sabyinyo

Sabinyo has three peaks. An ascent leads first to Peak 1 prior to climbing towards Peak 2 along a narrow ridge that overlooks breathtaking drops into deep gorges on each side. Peak 3 is further reached by as well as muddy scramble. The borders of three countries converge on this summit and so you will find yourself simultaneously in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. The 14km round trip takes about 8 hours.

Mountain Gahinga Volcano

An ascent of Mountain. Gahinga climbs through bamboo forest to reach a lush swamp which lies in the crater at the summit. The round trip from Ntebeko takes just about 6 hours.

Mountain Muhavura Volcano

This classic volcanic cone is capped by a small lake; a modest reward for a 5 hour trek that rises 1700m to over 4100m. The real incentives for the mountain's marvelous alpine vegetation.

The Muhuvura trail gives the quickest as well as shortest route to experience these dramatic plants while the View includes the five other Virunga volcanoes, the rift valley, Lake Edward and (in clear weather) the Rwenzori mountains. The 12km round trip takes around 8 hours. whenever you have your own equipment you ought consider camping at the ranger post at the base of the volcano to make an early start (and improve your chances of clear views). Buffalo Wall and Bird Watching