Mgahinga is a part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434sq. km) which includes two adjacent parks in Rwanda and Congo. Mgahinga Gorilla national park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. It was formed to protect the rare Mountain Gorillas that inhabit dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered Golden monkey. Its most striking features are its three conical,extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular virunga ranges that lie along the border region of Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger virunga Conservation Area which includes the adjacent parks in these countries.
The park offers a soothing aura of majesty with cool temperatures owing to the mountainous nature of the park. It’s a home to part of 300 gorillas located in the Virungs massif. It is indeed where gold meets silver where gorillas are house with the same habitat of the golden monkeys. The cultural heritage featuring folklore and traditional healing practices for local people covers the north slopes of the three northern Virunga volcanoes-Muhavura, Gahinga and sabinyo.
The park derives its name from “Gahinga” a Kinyarwanda word for a pile of volcanic lava stone heaps around which cultivation is carried out. On the other hand, Muhavura means “guide” as you can see it from many directions while Sabinyo means the “Old Man’s Teeth”. It is bordered to the south by Rwanda and to West by DR Congo.
While Sabinyo is deeply eroded with jagged crown and deep gorges and ravines, Gahinga has a swamp filled- crater about 180m wide and Muhavura has a small crater lake about 36m wide at its summit. While at the top of Sabinyo, youget to be set foot in all the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo at the same time. Its view of the Volcanoes and gorges with the cool breeze of freshness is unrivaled. On some of the steep mountain slopes are caves formed by lava tubes, one of them being the famous Garama cave located near Ntebeko, The park headquarters.
Activities in Mgahing gorilla national park;
The best birding in Mgahinga also takes in some of its most beautiful scenery in the gorge between Mt. Gahinga and Sabinyo, through the Bamboo forest, and in montane forest, where the beautiful Rwenzori turaco may be observed.
For generations, Mgahinga dense forests were a home to the indigenous Batwa- hunter gatherers and fierce warrior who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine. Now they lead visitors through the forest and introduce them to their old home and the techniques they used to survive in it.
The guide leads you through the gorillas’ world, surrounded by wild forest and impressive birdlife, exploring the gorilla behavior along the way. Tracking excursion leave from Ntebeko Entrance Gate at 8:00am daily and last between two and five hours.
Hiking and Nature walks:
Hiking around the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes gives visitors the chance to spot forest birds, the Rugezi swamp, wild vegetation bamboo forest and glorious views of the surrounding lakes and agricultural villages.
Mountain and Volcano climbing:
All three Volcanoes in this park can be summited, taking a full day each view from the peaks are well worth the effort-taking in Rwanda DR Congo, the Virungas, the Rwenzoris, Bwindi impenetrable forest and the lake Edward.
Accessibility to this park:
By road:Mgahinga gorilla national park is 510km from Kampala, the most commonly used route passes through Kabale and Kisoro. The 434km journey from Kampala to Kabale can be completed in 8 hours on a good tarmac road; it is the 76km to Kisoro town on a mountainous tarmac road with steep ascents and descents.
An attractive alternative route leaves the main road at Kabale and follows the shoreline of the superbly scenic lake Bunyonyi to rejoin the Kabale -Kisoro main road and its half-way point at Muko.
Ntebeko the main Entrance to Mgahinga gorilla national park is 14km from Kisoro at the end of dirt road with some steep and rocky sections.
By Air: Mgahinga can also be reached by Air using the daily flights from Entebbe international Airport to the nearest Kisoro Airfield.