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Mgahinga National Park

Mountain gorillas are the big attraction in Mgahinga. Tracking the gorillas is a unique experience that will lead you into an intriguing land to meet unusual creatures on their own terms and in their natural environment.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Volcanic peaks
  • Endangered mountain gorillas
  • Lava caves
  • Rare golden monkey
Activities
  • Trekking - Gorilla
  • Walking safari - Garama cave excursion, volcano
  • Bird watching
Size
  • 36 sq km
Location
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest national park in Uganda. It is the Ugandan section of the Virunga National Park.

ABOUT

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park, but among the most scenic. It is located on the south western tip of the country on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and covers a small area of only 34 square kilometres. It encompasses the Ugandan side of the 3 Bufumbira Volcanic Mountains of Mgahinga(3400m), Muhavura(4127m) and Sabinyo(3645m) on the boundary with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga Volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up to the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate. Here, you can contemplate the beauty of the volcanoes.

The National Park is known for its mountain gorilla population and was gazetted as a gorilla sanctuary in 1930. The Virungas are currently home to more than half of the world’s total population of endangered mountain gorilla. Approximately 380 mountain gorilla roam the slopes of the volcanoes while the remaining 340 live nearby in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest.

Mountain gorillas are the big attraction in Mgahinga. Tracking the gorillas is a unique experience that will lead you into a strange land to meet unusual creatures on their own terms and in their natural environment.  The experience is breathtaking, humbling and poignant.

Tracking the gorillas is an intense experience that can take all day. The guide will lead you through their natural habitat explaining aspects of their ecology and behaviour along the way.  The gorillas have been habituated to people. The composition of any troupe changes as individuals are born, die, or transfer between troupes and your guide will be able to give you up to date details of the group dynamics.

Though gorilla tracking is the parks most popular activity, Mgahinga merits a visit to appreciate the scenery. A choice of hikes accomodates for all levels of hikers, ranging from the 8 hour return trip to the summit of Mt Muhabura, to gentle strolls across the lower slopes beneath the stunning backdrop of the peaks of the 3 volcanoes.

WILDLIFE 

The park contains at least 39 species of mammal and 79 birds. Larger mammals include elephant, leopard, buffalo and bush pig. Mgahinga’s most famous resident is the mountain gorilla. Less famous but equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the Virungas and in one other forest in Rwanda.

Mgahinga is blessed with a unique bird fauna. With 79 bird species having been recorded so far, a bird enthusiast will not be disappointed. Several species are endemic to the East Congo Montane region. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species in the Virungas are endemic to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total endemic species. Notable bird species include the rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, ibis, whydah, fire finch, speckled mousebird, black kite and crowned crane.

GEOGRAPHY

Mgahinga consists of the partly forested slopes of 3 extinct volcanoes and is a small part of a much larger ecosystem known as the Virunga Conservation Area, which includes 2 adjacent parks in Rwanda and Congo.

Mgahinga’s slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowest zone is an area of grass and bush which was formerly encroached and cleared by farmers and is now regenerating. Undisturbed vegetation starts with montane woodland, followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone which contains giant tree heathers. The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which occurs only on East African mountains above 3000m and includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.

CLIMATE

The park experiences 2 rainy seasons March through to May and September through November.

There are 2 dry seasons being January through February and May through August. The wettest months are March through April and September through November. The driest months are June and July.

October is the wettest month with 250mm of rain and July the driest with just 10mm.

NOTE

Gorilla tracking can be long and arduous so be prepared for all weather conditions.

While you have an excellent chance of seeing gorillas, success is not guaranteed. They are wild animals with no fixed routine.

WHEN TO VISIT

Tours are available year round for all activities.

Accommodation at Mgahinga National Park

Mount Gahinga Lodge, Virunga Mountains, Uganda, SafariHQ

Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge

Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge nestles in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes on the border of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC.