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Uganda’s smallest yet most scenic National Park is situated in the extreme South-Western corner of the country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to include Parc des Volcano in Rwanda and Parc de Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area, and provide a striking backdrop to Mgahinga’s gorgeous scenery. Mountain gorillas form the main attraction of the Park, and are the reason for its existence, thought the habituated group frequently crosses the border to Rwanda. The Park also protects golden and colobus monkeys, buffaloes, leopards, elephants, bushbucks and giant forest hogs. The Park’s varied medicinal plants and fascinating Ngarama Cave can be explored with a Batwa guide – this tribe of hunter-gatherers were the region’s original inhabitants, and their ancient knowledge of the forest remains unrivalled. One of the Park’s most exciting experiences is the trip into the Ngarama Cave – once home to the Batwa king.
Size: 33 sq km
Gorilla tracking: Permits ($500 per person) are limited and must be booked in advance at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala. They will be able to confirm that the group has not crossed the border to Rwanda.
Golden Monkey tracking: Hike through stunning bamboo forests to see this attractive and endangered primate.
Volcano climbing: A tough day’s hike will take you to the peaks of Muhavura, Gahinga or Sabinyo – whose summit is crossed by the Uganda-Rwanda-Congo border.
Bird watching: Trek to the Rugezi Swamp, the Sabinyo Gorge or the bamboo forest for the best bird watching opportunities.
Batwa Forest Trail: This unique cultural trail is led by Batwa guides, and visitors will learn about day-to-day life as a hunter-gatherer in the forest, and watch an astonishing performance in the sacred Ngarama Cave.
A young mountain gorilla hangs from a tree. Photo Credit: Tertius BuneWildlife
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has 76 identified mammal species, including mountain gorillas, endangered golden monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, elephants, bushbucks and buffalos. Your guide will know which areas are most frequented by each species of animal.
Birding: 115 bird species have been recorded here, including several endemic to the Albertine Rift. Rwenzori turacos, handsome francolins, olive woodpeckers and western green tinkerbirds are among the species you can hope to spot in the forested hillsides.
Rare golden monkeys live in the Park’s bamboo forests. Photo Credit: Simon JonesPractical Information
Getting Here: It’s a full day’s drive from Kampala to Kisoro, and a further 30 minutes to the Park entrance. Kisoro is the nearest town – public buses travel here from Kampala.
Climate: While it is still warm in the sunshine, Mgahinga’s high altitude means it gets very cold. The nights are very chilly indeed – you will be glad for your lodge’s open fire in the evenings!