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Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest parks situated on the slopes of the Ugandan part of the great Virunga volcanoes, it is home to one habituated gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family, it’s the only park where the golden monkeys can be found covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers on an altitude of 2227m-4127m above sea level, Mgahinga adjoins the great series of the Virunga in Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. The national park was declared a game sanctuary by the British government in 1930 as a way of conserving the critically endangered species that called it home and by the 1991 it was upgraded to a national park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park covers occupies the Virunga slopes of Sabinyo, Ghaninga and Muhavura part of the 8 great series of the ranges it adjoins to the Rwanda and Virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo, the three volcanoes provide a beautiful backdrop to the region Gahinga is the smallest it was called a pile of stones by the locals. Muhabura means the guide years back the mountain used to light giving travelers access to it during the night hours. And Sabinyo was named according to its teeth like nature as a result of weathering hence the say ‘an old man’s teeth’.

The park hosts a number of over 30 species of mammals the mountain gorilla being its main resident despite the migratory nature it is the only park to find the endangered golden monkeys living in the bamboo zone of the forest other animal species in the national park include the elephants, giant forest hogs, leopards although they are rarely seen amidst the mountain gorillas. The park is home to over 79 bird species some of which are endemic to the region the black kite, Rwenzori turaco, crowned cranes to mention a few.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The vegetation of the national varies in distinctive altitudinal bands the lowest area is that occupied by the local farmers in bush and grass which are being abandoned and regenerating as part of the national park. The zones continue to the montane woodland, followed by a bamboo zone within which most of the species stay, a montane forest and the giant heathers as the altitude keeps raising up.

The national park was home to the batwa (pygmy’s) a group of last short structured people in Uganda, however as a result of conservation, they were evicted from the forest and continued living in the neighboring communities passing through their old life styles inform of cultural performances they were hunters, keepers and always lived by the forest the other settlers of the national park are the Bafumbira living in Kisoro district.

The national park can be visited all year round best in the dry seasons of December to February and June-august the dry seasons are not very long and it should be noted that it rains even during the dry time especially in the night. Temperatures in the national park range to 150ºc. the wet seasons range from march and April, September –November the national park is often covered in mist. Warm clothes, well fitted boots, hand gloves, raingear, water proof covers for phones and cameras is important for a better experience.

Around the park are magnificent features that bare tourism attractions in the national park as well they are used for boat cruises, canoes accompanied with several other activities on Lake Mutanda and lake Mulehe. Outside of the park is lake Bunyonyi deepest of the Ugandan lakes. Other activities include gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, mountain climbing, birding safaris, guided nature walks. It is advisable to buy gorilla and golden monkey permits on time to avoid inconveniences especially during the peak seasons of tourism.

The park is situated in the south western corner of Uganda at the edge of the Albertine rift region in the Virunga eco-system approximately 524 square kilometers passing via Mbarara and Kabale and Kisoro by road. Chatter flights can be organized to the Kisoro airstrip on domestic flights in Entebbe or Kampala-Kajansi. There is available accommodation in the national park ranging from luxury to the best budget for example the lake Mulehe gorilla lodge, chameleon hill lodge among other facilities.

TOURISM ATTRACTIONS IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga national park is home to mountain gorilla the Nyakagezi gorilla family. It is popularly slagoned as ‘where gold meets silver’ a Ugandan continuation of the eight series of the great Virunga mountains, smallest of the national parks, three peaks of Mgahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhabura are in the national park covering an area space of 33.7 square kilometers it is the smallest of the conservation areas in the country the parks most popular attractions are primates its ecological set up supports the existence of the species.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The flora and fauna, the slopes of the Mgahinga are covered by a series of vegetative covers lowest parts covered in grass and bush, to the undisturbed bamboo zone, montane forest, and the ericaceous zone containing the giant tree heathers, it keeps the rare golden monkeys and about 39 species of mammals although they are rarely seen. It is supplemented by the Rwandan volcanoes national park and democratic republic of Congo indicating that the gorillas in this particular park are migratory as they move freely from one ecosystem to another. It is a habitat to more than 70 species of birds including the rare Rwenzori turaco, black kites, to mention a few.

Primates of the national park include the mountain gorilla and golden monkey, they are residents of the national park, tracking them is one of the most outstanding experiences. Uganda is a primate destination with 13 species recorded in its national park, tracking mountain gorillas requires buying gorilla permits on time, it begins in the morning and the park hosts one group of gorillas the Nyakagezi gorilla family.Golden monkeys are critically endangered species living in the bamboo forest, they rare and exclusive monkeys compared to other primates they have a unique and outstanding color endemic to the Albertine rift valley region, they have been habituated to contain human presence living in groups of 100 led by one Alpha male, the commonly feed on bamboo shoots, leaves, seasonal fruits, and sometimes small invertebrates.

Peaks in the national park, it hosts three of the great series of the Virunga mountain ranges mountain Sabinyo(3669m), ghahinga(3474m), and Muhabura(4127m) situated at the northern limit of the Albertine rift valley it presents an opportunity to hike to the mountains, the names of the three peaks derive a local explanation Muhabura means the guide, during the 15th century it is said that the mountain used to provide a natural lighting for the travelers, Sabinyo is got from its ragged top nature as a result of weathering making it look like an old man’s teeth the Ghahinga represent a small pile of stones. Climbs to the peaks ascend and descend through a thick bamboo forest.

Lake Mulehe and Mutanda are a few kilometers outside the national park, they are part of the attractions to the national park, boat cannoning is done in the lake regions fishing and also one has a chance to interact with the nature wonderful breezes from the lake side together with the forest complete the experience.

silverback in Mgahinga

The batwa(pygmies) a group of the last structured people in Uganda, they originally lived in the forest as hunters and gatherers, they were the forest keepers and lived together in harmony with the forest creatures. However due to conservation purposes they were evicted from the forest and continued living around the national park passing their culture to generations through traditional performances.

Beyond the park is the lake Bunyonyi deepest lake in Uganda found in Kabale district it is a land of many islands beautifully placed on the lake. Adjoined safaris can be made to Bwindi impenetrable national park and queen Elizabeth national park, it is managed under the Uganda wildlife authority placed 542square kilometers form Entebbe by road, chatter flights can be organized tom Kisoro from Entebbe or Kajansi.

TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga national park is one of Uganda’s smallest parks situated on the slopes of the Ugandan part of the great Virunga volcanoes, it is home to one habituated gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family, it’s the only park where the golden monkeys can be found covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers on an altitude of 2227m-4127m above sea level, Mgahinga adjoins the great series of the Virunga in Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. The national park was declared a game sanctuary by the British government by 1930 as a way of conserving the critically endangered species that called it home and by the 1991 it was upgraded to a national park.

Gorilla tracking in Mghainga national park, it is home to one gorilla family the Nyakagezi it is one of the most interesting activities on a Ugandan experience this group is mobile and sometimes crosses to the Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo, tracking begins in the morning hours at the Ntebeko gate lasting for 2-8 hours depending on how far the gorilla family has moved the maximum time allowed to spend with these majestic creatures is one hour with a well-trained and knowledgeable park guide from the Uganda wildlife authority.

Golden monkey tracking golden monkeys is done with in the national park they take time to build nests and are always in the same place so there is always no need for pre-tracking like the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys are beautifully colored orange – gold enticing to look at, they give an opportunity to take very beautiful photography. Tracking is done in the morning from 8 am and an hour is allowed to spend with these magnificent creatures. Just like the gorillas it’s advisable to book permits to track golden monkeys prior to the time of tracking.

Hiking /volcanic climbing mountain Muhabura is the highest peak standing at 4127m above sea level, sabinyo and Gahinga hikers at the summit can see beautiful ranges of the Virunga mountains, lake Bunyonyi, lake Mulehe and Mutanda, and the surrounding community the trip takes 8 hours’ time depending on the speed of the last person most of the hikes go through the forest giving an opportunity to see golden monkeys and several of the bird species.

Bird watching in the national park, it is home to more than 70 species of birds its popular along the trails between Gahinga and sabinyo birds that can be spotted include the Rwenzori turaco, black kites, bronze sunbird, Rwenzori batis, black headed waxbill, streaky seedeater to mention a few. In order to enjoy a birding experience, it is advisable to carry a pair of binoculars trios a lead by an experienced birder who will help identify the several bird species.

The Batwa cultural experience was created by the displaced pygmies as a way of educating their children, passing unto generations and sharing their heritage together with traditions to the whole world. The Batwa size is quite different from the neighboring tribe’s men in Uganda, the men and women are on an average of four feet or less in height, they have a strong social relation and recognize themselves as a community. A day spent with these people gives you a chance to hike the forest with people who know and understand the forest, the will make you see the forest through their eyes, you will visit the batwa community home steads, learn their traditional foods, here about the traditional legends and songs.

The park is located in the south western corner of the country approximately 540 square kilometers from the capital city taking 8 hours’ drive on road via kabale-kisoro by roadchatter flights can be organized in Entebbe or Kajansi to the Kisoro airstrip. There is available accommodation in the national park ranging from the best budget to luxury, it is advisable to carry warm clothes, boots, raingears, insect repellants, hand gloves and any other personal material needed for an African safari.

WHERE TO STAY IN MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK.

Mgahinga national park is one of Uganda’s smallest parks situated on the slopes of the Ugandan part of the great Virunga volcanoes, it is home to one habituated gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family, it’s the only park where the golden monkeys can be found covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers on an altitude of 2227m-4127m above sea level, Mgahinga adjoins the great series of the Virunga in Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. The national park was declared a game sanctuary by the British government by 1930 as a way of conserving the critically endangered species that called it home and by the 1991 it was upgraded to a national park. The national park has several accommodationsaround ranging from the best budget to luxury

Ghahinga gorilla lodge is a luxury facility in Mgahinga national park, the only place to stay while tracking mountain gorillas (Nyakagezi gorilla family),built in traditional designs and building techniques, it is one of the lodges amazing places located right outside the park, meaning you can carry out activities by conveniently taking a walk to the start point, the scenic views of the lodge are worth staying. The lodge offers accommodation in 9 beautiful bandas with hot showers and large beds each of which has got a balcony facing lake Mutanda, overlooking the mountain ranges and the wonderful vegetation. The lodge was constructed using local material like stone, the main lodge boosts WIFI access, a new sunroom (lounge), bar, dining area, the old lounge and a library behind the main lodge is composed of open fire logs with a similar taste of furnishings like the rest of the lodge

Travelers rest hotel in Kisoro is among the oldest facilities in Uganda it is situated 14k m form the national park accommodation is presented in eleven rooms well fitted with range of Congo fashion selection overlooking the Virunga mountains it is equipped with a restaurant, bikes for rent, lounge area, a fire place, bar, with huge mask of Congolese masks all the rooms are well equipped with warm water and en-suite bathrooms.

Amajabere iwacu community camp is a budget facility located near the camp the three of the peaks are directly adjacent to the lodge providing several rooms from bandas, dormitories and camping it has a spacious place for camping and available tents the camp has three bandas, 2 dorms, a restaurant preparing typically Ugandan meals.

Chameleon hill lodge is an upmarket lodge overlooking the lake Mutanda it is a great place for birding, boating and carrying out other activities in the national park like gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking it is fairly priced with permanent fitted cottages built with an en-suite bathroom it placed in a position that one can be able to track in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga.

Other lodges are on the are adjacent to the lake Mulehe for example the lake Mulehe gorilla lodge, Nkuringo lodge, Bwindi safari lodge to mention a few.it is very possible to drive from the lodges to the tracking point as there are a few kilometers away. Mgahinga national park is very cold due to a high altitude therefore it is advisable to carry warm clothes, boots, water proof covers for phones and cameras, rain gears and any other material necessary for an African safari.

BEST TIME TO VISIT MGHAINGA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga national park is one of Uganda’s smallest parks situated on the slopes of the Ugandan part of the great Virunga volcanoes, it is home to one habituated gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla family, it’s the only park where the golden monkeys can be found covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers on an altitude of 2227m-4127m above sea level, Mgahinga adjoins the great series of the Virunga in Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. The national park was declared a game sanctuary by the British government by 1930 as a way of conserving the critically endangered species that called it home and by the 1991 it was upgraded to a national park.

Many people may wonder which is the best time to visit the national park the park is open all year round but best in the dry seasons of the year that between December –February andJune –August, the trails are much drier making it easy to pass through hence a wonderful experience with the gorillas, it is peak time for most travelers and advisable to buy gorilla permits on time it should be noted that the park area is not so dry at most time expect rainfall even during this time it is the best time to do mountain biking, and most of the park activities taking place.

The wet seasons range from march and April, September –November the national park is often covered in mist. Warm clothes, well fitted boots, hand gloves, raingear, water proof covers for phones and cameras is important for a better experience however one should bare in mind that the routes as always slippery compared to the hot season and it might be difficult to see a few animal species. The parks temperatures raise to 150ºc experiencing longer rainy seasons and shorter dry seasons.

The park has several attractions like the golden monkey and the mountain gorillas that are popularly visited by tourist, Uganda is a primate destination with 13 species others include the l’hoest monkey, black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey, red tailed monkey among others, big game like elephants and buffaloes are present within the national park although they are rarely seen. Bird and butterfly species are present this makes it a sound eco-system where at least everybody would love to go.

Activities like the mountain climbing, gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking are exclusively unique and can only be found in the national park, it hosts the Ugandan population of the mountain gorilla’s gorilla belingei, half of the remaining population is in the Bwindi impenetrable national park, a UNESCO world heritage site that was gazette as a way of protecting the endangered species. The parks climatic conditions are cold and therefore advisable to carry warm clothes during a visit to the national park.

It is strategically located in the south western corner of the national park, at the base of the volcanoes one can stand bin either the democratic republic of Congo, Rwanda or Uganda.

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