Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda (Where Silver meets Gold) – Mountain Gorillas, Golden Monkeys and Batwa
Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest but scenic safari park in Uganda. It is situated in South Western part of Uganda in Kisoro District, Bufumbira County, with a size of 33.7 sq km, and borders Rwanda in the South and Democratic republic of Congo in the west. Mgahinga gorilla park is located in Virunga Mountains, which covers three of the eight Virunga volcanoes; Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo, which cover only 8% of the whole of Virunga conservation area, with the rest of the area extending to Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo.
Situated about 540km from Kampala, Mgahinga National park was gazetted in 1991, and is best recognized as one of the two National parks in Uganda that harbors the endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Mgahinga gorilla national park experience includes vegetation and a cool climate with Bamboo as the dominant vegetation covering 60%, it is of course mountain Gorillas’ favorite delicacy. The area is mostly inhabited by Bafumbira who are the majority dwelling on cultivation as their economic activity, with a minority group of crafty Batwa who were Marjory hunters.
The park experience two wet seasons annually; February-May and September-December, which causes the place to have a tropical rain-forest type. Mgahinga Gorilla National park is a home to over 76 mammalian species, with mountain Gorillas being the major attraction. Other mammals include golden monkeys, buffalo, rodents, forest elephants, and bush-bucks to mention but a few.
There is also 79 recorded bird species with some endemic to the Albertain Rift valley. Some of the bird species include Ibis, speckled mouse Birds, fire finch stone chatgrey capped warbler, waxbills, etc
Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include;
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking experience involves moving around the park with the guides in search of mountain gorillas. There are only two groups of mountain gorillas habituated for tourists in Mgahinga. The Nyakagezi group which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, and infants. The Hirwa gorilla family that migrated from neighboring Rwanda.
Bird Watching Safari
There is also birding safari, where one gets an opportunity to see different species of birds some endemic to east Congo Montane region. Examples include fiscal shrike, crowned hornbird, black kite, augur buzzards, and crowned crane among hundreds more.
Mountaineering / Hiking
Volcano climbing is another recipe for the park, where physically fit individuals get a chance to hike the mountains, where they enjoy a beautiful view of most parts of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda and the park in particular.
Volcano climbing involves Mount Sabinyo (old man’s teeth) which is 3669m high, taking about 8hrs with 14km on return. Mount Gahinga (small piles of stone), which is 3474m,taking 8hrs on return. Mount Muhavura(the guide) which is the highest with 4127m. Once one is on top of this Volcano, one gets a beautiful view of the park, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Lake Edward, peak of Rwenzori, Virunga volcanoe, and Queen Elizabeth National park.
There is also cave exploration, where the crafty Batwa used to stay. This is 342m in length and 14m deep,now inhabited by bats. There is viewing platform, where on hikes up on free will and gets a chance to have a beautiful view of the park.
The Batwa also are interesting group of people to visit as they are good entertainers and have unique ways of life. So one can visit the group if interest in cultural exploration.