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Mgahinga National Park; Gorillas, Golden Monkeys & Scenery

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park at just 33.7sq km is the smallest national park in the far south-west of Uganda near the town of Kisoro where gorillas are also tracked.

Mgahinga is one of two locations in Uganda in which mountain gorillas can be found; the other being Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park has one habituated gorilla group, although this group sometimes crosses the border into Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, regarded to be the best gorilla safari destination in Africa, which means Mgahinga is not a reliable spot for viewing gorillas.

The national park also covers three of the eight Virunga volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabyinyo, all of which lie on the Uganda/Rwanda border. Any of these can be climbed in one day from the park headquarters.

Though gorilla tracking is the most exciting and popular activity in the park, in Mgahinga a visit merits you into appreciating the scenery in the park.

HOW TO GET THERE
This Park is located in the south-western part of Uganda, with an 8 hr drive of 540 km via Kabale and Kisoro.
Or Charter flights can also be arranged from Entebbe or Kampala ( Kajjansi) to Kisoro airstrip.

TOURIST ACTIVITIES
Gorilla Tracking
This is the most exciting and memorable tourist activity in this thick jungle, a habituated gorilla group (The Nyakagezi group) consisting of 9 members; 2 silver backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. (Tracking can take three to eight hours).

Mt. Sabyinyo (3669m)
This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb, on these three peaks you 3 in 1 ie you will find your self simultaneously in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda.With this 14 km trip of about 8 hrs, an ascent will first lead you to peak 1 before climbing a long a narrow ridge on peak 2 that over looks breath taking drops into the deep gorges on each side. Peak 3 is reached by a steep and muddy scramble.

Mt. Gahinga
This round trip of a round 6 hrs that begins from Ntebeko gives an ascent climb through the bamboo forest to reach a lush swamp.

Mt. Muhavura
Seen from all over Kisoro, this classic volcanic cone capped by small but pretty crater lakes acts as a guide and provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs and the real incentives for the climb are the mountain’s beautiful and marvellous alpine vegetation and panoramas. The Muhuvura trail provides hikers with a rewarded view of the other virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12km. You are advised to camp at the muhavura base camp the night before the site has no facilities so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear, this will also improve your chances of having a clear view.

Garama cave and Batwa trail
The Batwa trail leads from the base of Muhuvura to Garama cave. This is one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were warriors) lived and fought their neighbors, the Bantu, with such a guided Batwa guide walk there is provision of insights into their traditional forest life style and culture. The distance to the cave entrance from the park headquarters is 3km long and takes about 4hours. Y. The cave is 342m in length and 14m deep, and is now inhabited only by bats.

Birding
Birding along the edge of the park is now available on request. The guides are happy to take you out from 5-6p.m. if you book by 10am that morning. A stroll along the buffalo wall towards Congo takes you through a wetland area where Ibis, Whydah, Speckled, mouse bird, and fire finch are found. Stone chart, grey-capped warbler, wax bills and yellow-vented bulbul are always seen around the campground.

ACCOMMODATION
For accommodation, there is Mount Gahinga Lodge, Nkuringo Safari lodge and Volcanoes Mt. Gahinga Safari Lodge for up market luxury.

Travelers rest hotel for moderate.