Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is situated at the tip of the south-western Ugandian border and its connected with the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All of these three parks are situated in the beautiful Virunga Mountains and form an enormous 434 Km² Virunga Conservation Area. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, though the smallest national park in Uganda, is quite famous and attract a good amount of tourists every year. The reason behind its popularity is that it’s the only place in Uganda other than the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where you can find mountain gorillas. Also, it is a great place to find the endangered golden monkeys that are endemic to the Albertine Rift of which this national park is part of.
The Virunga Conservation Area comprises of eight major volcanoes, of which only two are still active and both happens to be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park encompasses three of these eight volcanoes: Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, and Sabinyo. Out of these three, Muhavura is the highest (at 4,127m) and the third highest of all eight. Whereas, Sabinyo is the oldest of all eight and its highest peak rises to 3,634m. Garama Cave, one of the numerous caves within these mountains, is quite popular as it happens to be a sacred place for the indigenous Batwa pygmies and is situated at a short distance from the park’s headquarters. All of the excursion activities such as hiking through these three mountains, gorilla safari & golden monkey tracking, Batwa trail (shorter one), etc. commence from the Ntebeko Visitors’ Centre. The longer Batwa trail that allows tourists to closely observe the culture of this indigenous tribe starts from the base of Mount Muhavura.
The centre of attraction in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are mountain gorillas that were habituated and are known by the name Nyakagezi gorillas. They are found in the bamboo forests in the aforementioned three mountains that lie within this park. Apart from these mountain gorillas, tourists could also find golden monkeys in these bamboo forests. The varied ecosystems found at different altitudes in these mountains support various types of flora & fauna that includes around 180 bird species and 76 mammal species such as hogs, pigs, buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden cats, jackals, and many more.
There are two possible itineraries for exploring the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: 5-day general itinerary and 3-day birding itinerary. The 5-day general itinerary includes activities such as gorilla and golden monkey safaris, Batwa cultural trail, hiking three mountains within the park, and visit to the Lake Mburo and Lake Bunyonyi. The 3-day birding itinerary includes bird safari to Kisoro through the Echuya forest and papyrus swamp, birding within the park, and then bird sighting at the Lake Mburo.