Mgahinga National Park:- A guide to gorilla safaris,hiking and tracking tours, primate safaris and wildlife experiences,hotels, lodges, car hire in Uganda's National Parks of Bwindi National Park, Kibale, Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Mt Elgon, Mghahinga.

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Mgahinga National Park / Uganda/ Mgahinga Gorilla Tracking, Trekking/Hiking Safaris

Mgahinga National Park is the smallest in Uganda with an area of  about 33.7 km.  Mgahinga National Park is famous because of its population of endangered Mountain gorillas. The park is located to the South west of Uganda in Kisoro district.

Mgahinga National Park  is part of the 434 Km Sq. 
Virunga Conservation area.  It adjoins Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park to the South and DR Congo’s Virunga National Parks to the West. Mgahinga National Park experiences two rainy seasons. The long rains between February - May and the short rains between September- December of each year.  Dry month are January, June, July and August.

 

ACCESS TO MGAHINGA

Distance:  540 km from Kampala.  Drive via Kabale takes 8 Hrs. You can use public means to Kisoro and hike upto the park headquarters. .  which set  

You can fly from Entebbe to on Mondays and Fridays. Cotact Eagle Aviation.

 

The People

Around Mgahinga National Park, the local people are Bafumbira who are mainly cultivators and the Batwa (Pygmies) a hunter gatherer community.

 

Ecosystem And Wild Life

Mgahinga has Afro-montane vegetation with  cool climate. Bamboo accounts for 60 % of the vegetation. Others include Lobelia and Haegenia spp.

Animals include mountain gorilla, buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, and the endangered golden monkeys.

 

Birdlife is profuse and include, Ruwenzori turaco, Fiscal shrike, Crowned hornbill, Black kite, Augur Buzzards, Crowned Crane.

 

Gorilla Tracking in Mgahinga National Park

There is only one group of gorillas habituated for tourists in Mgahinga-The Nyakagezi Group.  It comprises of 9 members; 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and infants.  Tracking can take three to eight hours. However it is always advisable to enquire of the groups where about since it strays into Rwanda sometimes.

 

Volcano Climbing

While in Mgahinga, one can easily engage in Vocano climbing. The volcanoes to be climbed are:

  •  MT. SABINYO (3669m) 'Old man’s teeth'

Hiking time 8 Hours return 14 Kms.

This volcano offers one three peaks to climb.  However the best is peak three which offers breathtaking sceneries in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. To be specific the peak offers you an opportunity to be in the three countries at the same time.

 

  • MT. GAHINGA (3474m) ‘small pile of stones’

Time 6 hrs Return

 

¨       MT. MUHAVURA (4127m) ‘The Guide’

Distance 12 Kms Time 8 Hrs round trip.

Being among the highest of the peaks, it acts as a guide.  Hiking to the top offers the best views in the country. Once at the top hikers are rewarded with the view of other virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain.

 

The hike requires at least two days.  The first day you will camp at the base of the volcano and the next day you hike to the peak.  You have to bring your own gear.

 

Other activities in Mgahinga

  • Cave exploration

  • Bird watching

Accommodation in Mgahinga

  • Traveller's Rest Camp

  • Mt.Gahinga Rest Camp

  • Virunga Hotel

  • Mgahinga Safari Lodge

  • Rugigana Camp Site

  • Mubano Hotel

  • Community Camp ground with ample space for ' Do it you Self-Camping

  • Mount Gahinga Rest Camp.

 

GORILLA TRACKING REQUIREMENTS

 

Please bring the following for tracking gorillas.

  • Hiking boots- ankle level boots are ok but make sure it is something handy.

  • Gloves

  • A warm cardigan

  • Thick trousers and a long sleeved top are ideal for tracking.

  • Rain Coat

  • Video- filming is allowed in the parks though not outside the park

  • Water proof container for their cameras

  • A pair of binoculars if you are a keen bird watcher.

  • If you prefer wearing a hat, a baseball cap is recommended.

 

Encounter with the gorillas

 

Submissiveness

When you encounter the gorillas always remember to be submissive

  • Do not look at them straight in the face rather give a sideways glance. 

  • Do not stand over them-crouch instead, stay in a tight group

  • Speak in whispers

  • Do not use flash photography

 

Gorillas are wild

Most visitors might be tempted to think that the gorillas are tame.  On the contrary, our gorillas are wild and they should not be provoked in any way.  The ORTPN does not take any responsibility for any injury sustained by wild animals in their habitats, hence

  • Keep your flight distance about 7 metres from them and bear in mind that gorillas have freedom of way

  •  Do not feed the gorillas

  • Do not entice them to get into contact with you in any way.

  • Do not eat in the vicinity of the gorillas

 

Environmental Consciousness

¨       Do not litter the park

¨       Always burry your faecal

 

Health of the Gorillas

There are currently approximately 700 mountain gorillas in the wild.  Thus these animals are classified as endangered species.  To avoid transmitting human diseases to them,

  •  Avoid tracking if you suffer from contagious disease.  In case you develop a sever case of flu, your money will be fully refunded if you make this known in advance. However if you attempt to track and fail for whatever reason, or if the guides discover that you cannot track due to disease, you do not qualify for any refund. 

  • Do not sneeze towards them

  • Do not spit in the forest or defecate carelessly.  If you need to the guides will help you with a matchet to dig a hole to bury your waste. 

  • Do not track if under age- Only 15 years and above can track.

 

Hiking, trekking and Tracking gorillas- the facts

 

How hard should one prepare for gorilla tracking in Rwanda?  The facts below will help you to answer this question.

  • Tracking takes place at altitudes of 3000 metres-this means that moderate/ average physical fitness is what is necessary and not athletic fitness.

  • Tracking gorillas is conducted by patient, qualified and knowledgeable ranger guides with wide experience in natural history with particular attention to gorilla behaviour

  • Trekking hiking and tracking is conducted at a moderate pace with plenty of stops for resting, fielding questions further briefs etc.  Competitive hiking is discouraged as the aim of the guides, porters and rangers is for all the group members to make it to the gorillas and back to the base.  Believe it or not, the slowest hiker/ trekker will determine the pace of the trek.

   
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