Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
• The 434-sq. km park is located in the South Western corner Uganda, bordering Republic of Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo, 14km south of Kisoro town.
• Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas • It covers the northern slopes of the three northern most Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127m), Mt. Sabyinyo (3,645m), and Mt.Gahinga (3,474m).
To do list: Volcano Climbing, Gorilla Trekking, Birding, Batwa Cultural Trail, Cave excavations.
Tracking the habituated Nyakagezi Gorilla family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a rewarding experience. Gorillas in Mgahinga look far much bigger than those in Bwindi. The Nyakagezi Gorilla Group is the only family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. The group is led by Mark, the dominant Silverback, who likes travelling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past few years however, the group has been stable on the Ugandan side.
Due to quite unpredictable behavior, permits for this group can only be booked at the local Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Mt. Muhavura (4127m) – ‘The Guide’
Seen from all over Kisoro and the surrounding distrcits, Mt Muhavura acts as a guide. Its Original name was Muhabura (meaning guide) before it was misspelt by Europeans as Muhavura. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with the view of the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountains. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12km.You are advised to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before or sleep in Kisoro town and wake up very early. The site has no facilities at the mountain base, so you need a tent, water, food and sleeping gear.
Mt. Sabinyo (3,645m) – ‘Old man’s teeth’
This volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb to the peak. The climb to the peak involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda at the same time. The hike takes about eight hours round trip to cover the 14km stretch.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)
Gardens in Kisoro are dotted with small piles of small volcanic stones called ‘Gahinga’. The piles are the origin of the name of the bigger Mount Gahinga. A hike of the mountain takes about, six hours round trip and goes through a good example of a pure Bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but time has changed it into a Lush swamp. Distance to the swamp is 8km.
The Park has a unique bird fauna with 79 bird species recorded including several species prevalent to the East Congo Montane region. For the Virunga Conservation Area as a whole, over 295 species are prevalent to the Albertine Rift Afromontane region representing 59% of the total of known endemic species.
People and Culture
The dense forests in the park were home to the Batwa people (Pygmies) who traditionally were hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors. They depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine thanks to ancient knowledge passed down for generations.
When Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established, the Batwa were evicted from the forest. Today, they re-enter the park as guides on The Batwa Trail, where they invite visitors to discover the magic of their old home. During this trail tour, the Batwa exhibit hunting techniques; gather honey; point out medicinal plants and show how to make bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King, where the women of the community perform traditional dances.