Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is an icon of Uganda’s national parks. This park commands majestic natural beauty and welcomes visitors each year — interested in gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, mountain hiking, sightseeing, bird watching and more. The park is home to three Virunga volcanoes, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring caves. Whether you’re looking for mountain gorilla trekking, a lifetime wildlife adventure, or want to immerse yourself in the stillness of nature—go hiking, backpack or take a nature walk in one of the most beautiful places, you’ll find your place in Mgahinga National Park.
The park is Uganda’s smallest national park that sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. It is an important habitat to the remaining mountain gorillas in the world.
At 33.7 square kilometers, Mgahinga National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda. It is located in the remote South-western district of Kisoro.
Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery. Mgahinga National Park only hosts one gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi Group. 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. Lately it seems they are trying to regain their Ugandan citizenship again as they have been back in Mgahinga National Park since November 2012 and may are likely to stay for a while. Even more good news came in May 2013 when a new baby was born, increasing the group to 10 members.
Due to quite unpredictable behavior, permits for this group can only be booked at the park headquarters of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes.
The British administration declared the area a game sanctuary in 1930; it was gazette as a National Park in 1991.
Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group.
The Batwa were self-sufficient – and visitors can see how during a charming tour with a Batwa guide to learn the secrets of the forest.
Mgahinga is home to the habituated Nyakagezi gorilla group – a fairly nomadic bunch that has been known to cross the border into Rwanda and the Congo. The family includes the lead silverback Bugingo who is around 50 years old and father to most of the group members; his silverback sons, Mark and Marfia; and two black backs, Rukundo and Ndungutse, who love to pose and play in the trees. The two females, Nshuti and Nyiramwiza, both have babies Furraha and Nkanda respectively.
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family
Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Group size: 10 individuals including 3 silverbacks
The varied habitats of Uganda’s smallest park make it home to a variety of birds with 179-184 species recorded. The list includes the Ibis, Pin-tailed Whydah, Speckled Moosebird, Stone Chat, Grey-capped Warbler, Wax Bills, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Fire finch, White-napped Raven, Black Kite, Rwenzori Turaco, Blue-headed Coucal, Paradise Fly-catcher, Rwenzori Batis, Double-collared Sunbird, Rwenzori Nightjar. The list is endless including the emigrates from DR Congo
The rare golden monkeys are endemic to the Albertine Rift, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers a rare chance to track these striking creatures, high in the dense bamboo forests on the Gahinga trail. There are estimated 3000-4000 individuals in the Virunga area which 42-60 are habituated in Mgahinga.
Mgahinga is home to 76 species of mammals, although they are difficult to sight in the wild forest vegetation. They include giant forest hogs, bush pigs, forest buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden cats, side striped jackals, black fronted duikers and South African porcupines.