Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Down in the southwestern corner, is Uganda’s smallest park- Mgahinga Gorilla National park sitting high between 2227m and 4127m. The 33.7km2 park covers 3 volcanoes of Muhabura, Sabinyo, and Gahinga, a local dialect word for piles of volcanic rocks where the park derives its name. 

In 1930, the British declared the forest a sanctuary for the game to protect the now endangered mountain gorillas that dwell in the dense forests and bamboo that cover the Virunga volcanoes. In 1991, the park forest was gazetted as a national park. Mgahinga National Park is home to over 75 species of mammals, including elephants, side-striped jackals, forest buffalo, and the endangered golden monkey. It is also recorded to have over 115 bird species, including the crowned crane, Blue-headed coucal, and White-naped raven. It is also one of the two locations in Uganda where one can track the mountain gorillas and is home to a population of golden monkeys that can be seen here and Volcanoes National park in Rwanda. The forest is regarded as of biological importance for its ability to provide shelter for mountain plants and animals that migrate along the slopes due to climatic changes.

The park has two wet seasons, one from February through May and the second from September through December, during which temperatures are generally cooler, averaging 15 C (59 F) and dropping to about 10 C (50 F) at night. The drier months are the best times to go, especially for gorilla trekking. 


Gorilla tracking

A one-day trek to the habituated Nyakagezi Gorilla family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a rewarding experience. The Nyakagezi Gorilla Group is the only family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park Gorillas in Mgahinga look far much bigger than those in Bwindi.

The gorilla group is led by Mark, the dominant Silverback, who likes traveling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Over the past few years, however, the group has been stable on the Ugandan side.

Due to the nomadic nature of the Nyakagezi gorilla family, tracking permits for this group can only be booked at the local Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Mgahinga

Golden Monkey tracking 

The volcano park is a stronghold of the golden monkeys which can be tracked through their bamboo habitat on the Slopes of Mt. Gahinga. As with Gorillas contact time is limited to an hour. Visitors who sign up for habituation experience can however spend all day following these striking orange-coated monkeys in the company of researchers.

Batwa trail and Ngarama caves

For generations, Mgahinga’s dense forests and bamboo were home to the Indigenous Batwa-pygmies, hunter-gatherers, and worriers who depended on the forest for shelter, food, and Medicine. Today, Batwa guides lead visitors through the lower slopes, introducing them to their old home and demonstrating the skills they used to survive in it. The highlights of the Batwa trail is the descent into the Garama cave for a subterranean performance of music and dance.  


All three volcanoes are open for hiking and Seen from all over Kisoro and the surrounding districts, Mt Muhavura acts as a guide. Its Original name was Muhavura (meaning guide) before it was misspelled by Europeans as Muhavura. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. While hiking, much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grass and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi, and the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. Mt. Sabinyo (3,645m) – ‘Old man’s teeth’ is the hardest to climb to the peak involves walking on a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda at the same time.  Mt. Gahinga (3474m)- “Stones”

Gardens in Kisoro are dotted with small piles of small volcanic stones called ‘Gahinga’.  The piles are the origin of the name of the Mountain Gahinga. A hike of the mountain takes about six hours round trip and goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake which has since turned into a swamp. The distance to the swamp is 8km.


The Park has a unique birdlife that has over 115 bird species recorded including several species prevalent in the East Congo Montane region. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species are prevalent in the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total of known endemic species.  Birders check out for the rare Albertine Rift Endemics and other forest birds in a range of these mountain locations like the  Sabinyo Gorge, the Saddle between Gahinga and Sabinyo, and the boundary trail at Ntebeko.


There are different options of travel to the park; however, the most common route runs through Kabale and Kisoro from Kampala (540 km, or 335 miles, away) at an estimated 8 hours of travel time—including 80 km (50 miles) stretch of winding mountainous roads. There are also air travel options from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro (Nyakabande Airstrip).


There is accommodation for every type of traveler and these are all located outside the park. In the fringes is Gahinga Lodge, a luxury lodge, Gorilla heights, set overlooking the hills, Lake Chahafi Lodge, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, Wagtail Eco lodge, and others in Kisoro town. 

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