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Wildlife at Mgahinga gorilla National park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest park in Uganda covering an area of 33.7km2. It is located in the southwestern tip of Uganda in the Kisoro district. The park adjoins Rwanda’s Volcano National Park and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Parks and is part of the Virunga conservation area. The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmlands. It covers an altitude between 2227m – 4127m above sea level. Wildlife at Mgahinga National Park spices up a Uganda safari because the park has some unique attractions to offer to tourists. Its a home to over 39 mammals and over 75 bird species.
Activities to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
The main attraction in the park is gorilla trekking just like its names suggests. The park has only one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi gorilla group with a Silverback Bugingo who is about 50 years old and leads the group. The rest of the gorillas have not be habituated for tourism.
Golden Monkey tracking Mgahinga Gorilla national park
Golden monkey trekking Mgahinga gorilla National Park involves travelers hiking the forest in search of the golden monkeys in their natural habitat. The activity starts around 0800hrs with an orientation of what is to be expected and travelers then head out in search of golden monkeys using the Gahinga trail. The forest comes to life with the noise and monkey activity that the golden monkeys exhibit, they jump from one tree to another as they play and eat. travelers are allowed only one hour with the monkeys once encountered and then get back to the starting point. The activity takes about 3 hours since these monkeys live in lower areas
Nature and Hiking walks
Hiking adventures in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is exceptionally one of the perfect ways that you can easily discover and catch a glimpse at most of natural wonders that this protected area has in offer for the world. Nature walks also famous as hiking trails allows travelers to explore in depth different species while on foot. There are very many trails that tourists take on a guided safari to Mgahinga National Park. Visitors to the park can do nature walks to see various stunning tourist attractions like swamps, caves, waterfalls and many more.
Mountain and Volcano climbing
There is nothing as thrilling and adventurous as climbing the 3 volcanoes. You can climb each to the summit in one day, these include;
Mt. Muhavura means “The Guide”
This volcano is 4,127m high and can be climbed in 8 hours covering around 12km. as you climb this mountain you move majorly in the small shrubs, grasses and the rock ground, this will give you some of the best views in the country, because when you reach the top you are able to see the peaks of Mt. Rwenzori, Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi forest, L. Edward in Queen Elizabeth national park and other things. After the long hike travelers are advised to spend a night at the base camp, and you are advised to carry sleeping gears, water, tent and food with you before you start the hike.
Mt. Gahinga means “a pile of lava stones heaps around which cultivation is carried out”
Hiking this mountain takes around 6 hours, the hike is taken in the Bamboo forest as you reach the top, you will find a swamp, and the distance covered is about 8 km. As you will see the stone piles in some gardens since it’s from them that the name “Gahinga” was derived.
Mt. Sabinyo means “Old man’s teeth”
The hike takes around 8 hours, and hiking to the top is quiet challenging but it is a great and an adventurous experience you get while hiking the eroded Sabinyo and also sloping to the gorges and ravines. When you reach its top what you get is a remarkable experience whereby you are in 3 countries at ago; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Batwa Trail is an activity that is always combined with gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park. The Batwa Trail leads from the base of Muhavura Cave. The walk is a living museum where you can learn about the Batwa People, a pygmoid tribe that used to live in the Mgahinga National Park. These people were hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine.
In creating the Mgahinga N. P, these people were forced out of the park and rehabilitated in the villages that surround the park.
During the eviction, these people were not evicted, they were forced into dropping their nomadic and bushmen lifestyle. many of them earning a living from working on local farms of other people. The Batwa Trail was developed to teach visitors about the lifestyle of these people – You will learn more about how these people survived in the forest.
Bird watching Mgahinga Gorilla national park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to about 180 bird species with some of the spectacular Albertine rift endemics. The park has varied montane habitats, which provide an excellent home for the different birds. The bird species in Mgahinga gorilla national park include Kivu Ground Thrush, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, White Starred Robin, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis, Archer’s Robin Chat, Olive Pigeon, and Black headed waxbill, Western Green Tinker bird, Cape Robin. More species include; White-starred Robin, Brown Woodland Warbler, Striped breasted Tit, Malachite, Scarlet-tufted, Greater Double collard Sunbirds.
Best time to trek gorillas Mgahinga gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is open for gorilla trekking the whole year, but the best times are during the drier seasons from June to August and December to January. At these times the trails tend to be easier to navigate and spending a precious hour with the gorillas might be more pleasant when it isn’t raining.
what to wear and needed during Mgahinga gorilla trekking
Gorilla Permit and Passport: These two documents must be with you at all times. The gorilla permit and passport must be present at the head offices for verification so that the authorities can ascertain whether a traveler is eligible to track the gorillas. The passport is presented to the park officials to know if the permit is yours and that you are old enough to track the gorillas. According to the gorilla trekking regulations in Uganda, one needs to be at least 15 years to trek gorillas.
Raincoat and sweater: The weather in most of the gorilla parks is very unpredictable. You can start the hike when the sun is bright and the rains come suddenly.
A cap to protect your head from sunlight and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the same.
Hand gloves will help protect your hands from sharp tree branches.
Hiking Boots: Gorilla trekking requires one to hike for long distances in dense forest. The forest trails can be muddy and steep hence presenting challenges to trackers. With the challenges in mind, a tracker needs to acquire shoes with good grip/traction and can cover the feet/ankles. With such shoes, one can easily walk for long hours in the forest without slipping or getting pierced by thorns.
Clothing: Not all clothes are suitable for the African jungle. The clothes for gorilla trekking should be made of light material and water proof. They should cover most parts of your body to protect you from thorns and sharp vegetation in the jungle. We recommend long sleeved top and a long pair of trousers. A tracker must also be selective of the colors. He or she should choose what is known as jungle colors – cream, brown, grey and dark green. Not bright colors since they create unnecessary attention.
Insect Repellents: We recommend that you carry an insect repellent to protect yourself from -insects like mosquitos or insect bites. Try to pack deodorants, perfumes, shavers and hand sanitizers so that you can look and smell good during your trip. You should even consider packing toilet paper, wipes, tooth paste and a tooth brush.
Binoculars: You will be encountering pristine wilderness with an amazing collection of wildlife including small primates, butterflies, moths, birds, antelopes, forest hogs and much more. A binocular will help you spot all these creatures as you search for the gorillas.
Camera with a great focus, strong battery and memory: Why would you go for a gorilla trekking without taking any photos. Gorilla trekking is a very special wildlife experience and you need to have both mental and physical memories that you can show your friends/family. Please do not use flash cameras while with the gorillas.
Cost of Mgahinga gorilla permits
A gorilla trekking permit for Mgahinga gorilla national park costs $700 per person foreign non residents, $600 per person foreign residents and ugx 250000 per person East African residents.
Gorilla trekking permit includes one hour in the presence of mountain gorillas. we recommend using a trusted tour operator like mond safaris to book a gorilla permit on your behalf.
Age limit Mgahinga gorilla national park
Just like all the other gorilla trekking countries in Africa, Uganda has gorilla trekking minimum age limit that has to be allowed for one to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and Mgahinga gorilla National Park. One should be 15 years and above to trek gorillas in Uganda.
Why Uganda gorilla trekking age limit is 15 years and above
Gorilla trekking age limit in Uganda is 15 years and above and anyone below is not allowed to trek because it requires some fitness to trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and its believed Children may not stay calm or lay low when a mighty silverback approaches them or appears aggressive. Screaming or running away could force the gorilla to run after the youngster. The only way to contain an aggressive or charging gorilla is to act submissive and lay low. Mature travelers are better at controlling their emotions in the event that a gorilla charges.
Book a trip to Mgahinga gorilla national park with Mond safaris