Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the only two gorilla trekking activities one being in the Bwindi Forest sectors. Gorilla trekking is done in Mgahinga National park and the park is a hidden treasure that has been discovered by a few people. The park is located on the small size of 40 square Kilometers.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of Uganda’s tourism destination full of adventure experience. The park is shared within two borders of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Volcanoes National park of Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is done in different vegetation of Bamboo zone, Subalpine, Afro-montane belt, and Moorland zone.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park is done because the place protects only one of the habituated gorilla families in Uganda called Nyakagyezi. The habituated Gorilla family has 10 members including 3 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 offsprings and 1 Juvenile.
This gorilla family is never settled in the park and it keeps moving to the neighboring country of Democratic-Republic of Congo and Rwanda. However, in the previous year’s Nyakagezi decided to settle and became very reliable for anyone to trek. Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda cost 600USD each, however, in 2020 a gorilla permit will be increased to 700USD.
The Nyakagezi habituated Gorilla family can be visited by only 8 people and that means there are 8 permits every day and the Gorilla permits can be purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The park is a rain forest which means the weather is unpredictable thus it requires one to carry rain proper trekking gear such as hiking boots, jackets, and gloves. The ground is very slippery and muddy therefore one needs to be physically stable.
One has to stand 7 meters away from the mountain Gorillas and always keep a low tone during the gorilla trekking in Mgahinga.
The gorilla trekking in Mgahinga adventure is full of atmosphere with natural beauty and you will trek the mountain Gorillas with a well experienced informed guide who has full information on the behaviors of the mountain Gorillas.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga begins from the Ntebeko entrance gate at 8 am with a short briefing about gorilla trekking and its do’s and don’ts. The maximum time to spend with the mountain Gorillas is one hour as you observe their behavior.
The best time to go gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is during the dry season when the forest is not that muddy or slippery. The month’s best for gorilla trekking are during mid-December, February, June to October, however, one can trek throughout the whole year the activity is on.
The journey to Mgahinga national park takes 8 hours from Kampala the capital city of Uganda via Kabale-Kisoro.
By use of air transport, you will board an aircraft from Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro and thereafter be transferred to the park headquarters for your accommodation nearby.
There a number of accommodation facilities for trekkers including Volcano Mount Gahinga safari lodge, Mutanda Chameleon hill lodge, Travellers rest hotel, River Mucha Hotel and many more.
- Golden Monkey Trekking: There are other activities to encounter in the park including golden monkey trekking since the park inhabits Golden monkeys which are found at the border of Rwanda. Golden monkeys are recorded as endangered species and these small creatures are amazing with the golden fur at their back. You’re not allowed to take pictures while the flash is on and these small creatures are very playful as they keep jumping from tree to tree. One needs to be physically fit to hike through the muddy, slippery forest and through the bamboo trees. Golden monkeys can be trekked at a permit cost of 140USD, including park entrance for the experience.
- Hiking: Besides Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga, one can visit the different Volcanoes for hiking including Mount Muhabura the highest volcano whose name means a guide in Kinyarwanda. The other volcano is Mount Muhavura which is a crater lake with quite a number of bird species. There is also Mount Sabyinyo has three peaks. The hike takes 8 hours. Hike to the third volcano Mount Gahinga, which means a small pile of stones, this hike takes 6 hours. With the help of porters to carry the luggage. For one to hike to the Volcanoes you will be taken through a short briefing.
- Batwa in Mgahinga: Besides the gorilla trekking activity there is an option for visiting the Batwa Cultural Trails in Mgahinga. Visit the Batwa pygmies and earn about their past life in the forest, including food gathering, fruit gathering, hiding in Ngarama caves, collecting fire wood, hunting, music dance, and drama.
- Bird Watching: There are also bird watching activities and you will be able to see over 120 bird species, birds spotted in Mgahinga National park while trekking the mountain Gorillas include pin-tailed whydah, black-kite, paradise flycatcher, ibis, speckled mousebirds, Grey-capped warbler, Double-collared sunbird, waxbills, alpine, Blue-headed Coucal, Archer’s Robi-chat, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Olive Pigeon, Olive woodpecker, kivu ground thrush, blue-headed coucal, and Rwenzori nightjar. You will enjoy the sweet songs of birds on the trees within the fresh rain forests.
- Nature walk: Tourists can also engage in Nature walks as they go for gorilla trekking and in this you can enjoy the forest walk where you have chances of spotting the bush pigs, jackals, elephants, forest hogs, baboons, Gorillas, Monkeys and many more. This walk can take about 6 hours in the forest.
The park best time to visit Mgahinga for gorilla trekking is during the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. This is when the trails are dry enough.