Mgahinga National Park is situated 14 km from Kisoro in the south western part of Uganda neighboring Rwanda in the south and Congo in the west. The park occupies the northern slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes i.e Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), Mt. Muhavura (4127 m) and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). It takes up an area of 33.7 sq.km i.e 8% of the Virunga Conservation Area. Reaching the park will take you only 15 minutes from the Ntebeko Gate. The park is gifted with exceptional climatic conditions that favor the growth and conservation of mountain flora and fauna which locates to the top and bottom as according to the weather condition i.e warm/ cool. Some of the fauna include the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas.
Gorilla tracking refers to the activity of searching through the thick mountain rain forests for the endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. The park is occupied by a habituated Gorilla group called the Nyakagezi Gorilla group. The group consists of 9 individuals, including 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants/ babies. The group relocates often to various locations, so before trekking, we advise you to first find out the group’s current position. The whole activity will take 24 hours together with a guide who has a lot of knowledge about the area and species which are home to the rain forrest. He will be able to share his knowledge with you and provide you with the necessary information you need to know about these endangered primates. While trekking, relax and take a look around for the other mysteries the rain forrest has to offer. The birds, thick vegetation, wild plants and flowers are already a unique sighting of their own.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Hiking in Mgahinga National Park provides guests/visitors with an opportunity to explore the extra mysteries of nature. For example, you will view wild thick forest vegetation, bamboo forests, Rugezi swamps, forest birds along with the nearby lakes and agricultural communities. You will involve yourself on a hike of 4 hours through Rugezi swamp and the forest into the Sabinyo Gorge where you will spot birds flying in the air, for example the Rwenzori Turaco. This destination is perfect for people interested in bird watching. The walk to the Congo border surpasses various vegetation zones where you will spot the calderas at the top of Gisozi hill. While here, ensure to visit the Kisoro and Bunagana towns where you will view the beautiful Lake Mutanda. One can also track the golden monkey though a 2 hrs hike along the gentle steep slopes through the farmland to the bamboo forest.
There are a variety of different bird species at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. About 79 different endemic species can be found in the park. Especially between Mt. Gahiga and Mt. Sabinyo you will be able to have spectacular sightings of these magnificent birds. While on a trail through the forests in the gorge, you will be able to spot the following birds i.e, Cape Robin-chat, Dusky turtle Dove Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Kivu-ground Thrush Bronze Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, Rwenzori Batis, and Streaky Seedeater. At around 2,700m along the Uganda- Congo border you will spot the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco enjoying its habitat to the fullest. You will also spot and listen to high vocals coming from the different bird species like the Chubb’s Cisticola, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Banded Prinia and Doherty’s Bush-shrike.
Do you want to experience cultural traditions and customs at the maximum; don’t miss out on visiting and exploring Mgahinga’s Batwa community which will entice your expectations. These natives inhabit the thick forests where they hunt animals, gather food and get medicine to help them in their daily lives. They will guide the visitors through the forest where they will present to them their previous homes along with the methods and skills they used to survive with in the forest. After the foundation of the park, the indigenous community was expelled from the forest which made them change their lifestyles as pastoralists. The only period they are allowed to penetrate through the forest is during times when visitors want to explore the ancient lives of the Batwa people in their previous habitat. Here, you will encounter and like the nature walks and trails along with traditional inheritance.
They will illustrate unique methods of hunting, gathering honey, identifying medicinal plants as well as making bamboo cups. While in the forest, you will be invited to the sanctified Garama Cave which once acted as a safe haven for the Batwa, and here, women in the community will present a grieving song which will echo strangely within the dark cave hence making the entire activity very exceptional. We believe that you will leave this place touched. They will be very pleased by your visit to their community. It will help to improving their standards of living due to the fact that a portion of the tour fee goes to them to cover different requirements like school fees, school materials etc.
Mt. Sabyinyo (366m)
Mt. Sabinyo consists of 3 defying crests to climb despite the fact that it has worn out with time. In case one climbs up the mountain on the eastern side to the peak, they will encounter different crests/peaks and these will depend on how high you will climb. As you continue climbing, you will reach peak 11 which includes hiking a ridge into the gorges of Uganda and Rwanda hence getting an exceptional experience of both countries. Climbing to peak 111 is very challenging due to the fact that you will have to get filthy on your way up. You will also use various challenging methods to reach the top like ladders, pulp struggling etc which are not flexible at all. After reaching the top, you will spot all the three countries i.e Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
Mt. Gahinga is situated close to Mt. Muhavura in form of a stack referred to as a “Gahinga” in the local language. This mountain appears bigger than the ordinary pile though when compared to Mt. Muhavura, it is very small. This hike will take you about 6 hrs while moving through the Bamboo forest till the top. The mountain once had a crater lake at the top which has unfortunately turned into a verdant swamp. It only takes you 8 km to get to this place.
Mt. Muhavura (4127m)
Mt. Muhavura is a distinctive funnel shaped mountain situated in an area where one can spot the entire surrounding of Kisoro town hence providing tremendous views of the flora and fauna of the park and country. While climbing to the top of Mt. Muhavura, you will pass via the rocky surface covered by grass and candid shrubs. The hike will take about 8 hrs in about 12 km upwards and when hikers reach the top, they will spot the beautiful Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi national Park, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, peaks of Rwenzori Mountains etc. making the whole journey exceptional.