Mgahinga national park is the smallest national park and it’s found in the southwestern part of Uganda in the region of kisoro bordering Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo. The national park was gazetted in 1991 in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas with an area cover of 33.7 square kilometers. The national park is a home to 39 mammals including the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, elephants and giant duikers, over 115 bird species as well as three virunga volcanoes that is sabinyo, muhavura and gahinga that can be viewed while on a Uganda safari.
ATTRACTIONS IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK
The national park is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas and it’s the second national park besides bwindi national park which is a home to half of the world’s population. Mgahinga national park is a home to only one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi which consists of 9 members with one dominant leader with a silver back mark. Therefore these can only be spotted while on a Uganda safari.
The national park is a home to 39 bird species which are found within the forest. These include crowned hornbill, black kite, crowned crane, rwenzori turaco, white-necked raven, pin-tailed whydah, dusky crimson wing, kivu ground-thrush, olive pigeon, rwenzori batis, and Ruwenzori nightjar and many more.
The national park is a home to the golden monkeys and are found in the bamboo and forest zones. The golden monkeys live in groups of 60 to 80 members and they are easily found in the park. Golden monkey trekking is usually carried out in the morning hours where you can spot many of them and one requires to have a trekking permit.
The national park is surrounded by 3 in active volcanic virunga mountains that is mountain gahinga, mount sabinyo and muhavura.
Garama cave is found in the north edge of the national park and it’s of a great importance to the batwa community who were the early inhabitants of the forest before they were forcefully driven out. The cave can be visited while on nature walks on the batwa trail.
Besides being a home to primates, the national park is a home to wildlife species where it has 39 mammals such as the elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs and antelopes and many more.
ACTIVITIES IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK
Gorilla trekking is the major activity that is carried out within the national park. The national park has only one habituated gorilla family that is ready to be trekked. The trekking starts with a briefing at the parks headquarters and after you will be grouped and then enter the forest in search of the mountain gorillas. Once they are located, you will spend an hour with them as you monitor their behaviors. Besides the gorillas, you will spot other primates and bird species among others.
GOLDEN MONKEY TREKKING
The national park offers golden monkey trekking which is an amazing activity that involves moving into the forest in search of the golden monkeys. Mgahinga national park is the only park that harbors the endangered golden monkeys and the trekking starts early in the morning. The trek takes 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on their location. Once the gorillas are located, you spend with them an hour as you watch them play, hunt, feed, as you take photos and record the moments among others.
Mgahinga national park is surrounded by 3 dormant volcanoes where tourists who love hiking can do it from. The mountains include Gahinga volcano which is 3474 meters above sea level and it’s the smallest among the volcanoes and hiking takes 6 hours round trip, mount Sabinyo with 3669 meters above the sea level and hiking takes 8 hours as well as mount Muhavura which is 4127 meters above sea level and hiking takes 10 hours.
The national park is a home to over 115 recorded bird species that makes it one of the birding destination in Uganda. The birding destinations within the national park include the gorge trail between Gahinga and Sabinyo, bamboo belt and montane forest among others. Birds that are spotted include brown crowned Tchagra, blue headed sunbird, streaky seedeater, rwenzori batis, olive thrush, cape robin chat and alpine chat among others.
The national park was formally a home to the batwa people before it was gazette into a national park. The trail starts with a prayer and gives you an opportunity to interact with the batwa people, experience their ancient ways and explore their ancient cultures. While on the trail, the batwa will demonstrate their hunting skills, honey harvesting, gathering skills, how to make bamboo cups and how to make fire from two dry sticks. You will as well visit the garama cave which acted as a food storage and hiding place. After you will have a story telling as well as dances presented by the Batwa women