Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Tours – Gorilla Trekking Experience
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park tours for the best Uganda gorilla trekking experience in East Africa. Uganda is luckily the only African country with two national parks that host the elusive mountain gorillas living within their natural habitat and only physically seen on a gorilla trekking safari. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park just like its name portrays is a gorilla habitat, home to 1 habituated mountain gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla group.
The park covers only 33.7 square kilometers. The park derives its name from a local word “Gahinga” which means a pile of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes. Nyakagezi is a place in Mgahinga where there is a lot of sumptuous food that is attractive to the gorillas.
The area was gazetted to protect the mountain gorillas as well as other wildlife species in the area. The Nyakagezi gorilla group was in the previous century known to be transboundary always traversing between Uganda and Rwanda, however, for a long period of time now, the group is known to live only within Mgahinga.
These movements are very possible within this region as the mountain gorillas from Rwanda or Congo can move to Uganda and vice versa. This is because the mountain gorillas know no boundaries and the Virunga massif which makes up Uganda’s Mgahinga, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park Congo is continuous and easy for the gorillas to move past the country borders.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Location
Mgahinga Gorilla National park is located in Southwestern Uganda. It is within the Virunga Mountains covering three of the volcanoes namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo. The park is about 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) by road south of the town of Kisoro which is the closest town to the park. The park can also be accessed from Uganda’s capital Kampala or from Rwanda’s Kigali town.
Mgahinga Gorilla Trekking Experience
Many travelers on Uganda gorilla safaris usually prefer to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Mgahinga Park is, however, one of the best places to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda and this is why;
- Tracking the Nyakagezi gorilla group is amazing with the fact that this group is big and social compared to many other habituated gorilla groups. The family is comprised of three silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 black backs, and 2 infants. The Nyakagezi family is led by Silverback Mark assisted by Mafia, Ndungutse, and Bugingo. Rukundo is the sole Black back, Nshuti an adult female plus two babies namely Nshuti baby and Fred. Silverback Bugingo was formerly the lead silverback before Mark took over, however the former is happily playing the role of the “senior” silverback in the group. Such a group is rare to find since in many families big groups separate to have dominance and 2 silverbacks can’t lead the same group.
- Nyakagezi family is one of the easiest to track given the fact that it prefers a narrow home range for feeding, resting, relaxing, and recreation. In case you are not ready to hike for a long distance, Mgahinga is a better option since they can be found after a short time of trekker rather than those of Bwindi that may require a longer time to trek.
- It’s only in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park where mountain gorillas and golden monkeys co-exist therefore the slogan where silver meets gold. In case you would love to see these beauties then it’s good to choose trekking Mgahinga for gorillas and golden monkeys as well. There is no other place where this is possible in Uganda.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is closer to Rwanda and therefore easier to return to Rwanda after the trek. In case you are in Rwanda where the gorilla trekking permit is at US$ 1500 and would love to trek gorillas at a cheaper price you can opt to trek in Mgahinga at just USD 600. It’s about a 4 hours’ drive from Kigali to Mgahinga and therefore you can return after the trek.
Other activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Golden Monkey trekking
The golden monkey is one of the primates in Uganda preferred for tracking by tourists on Uganda safaris. They are only found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. This same park is home to mountain gorillas and best for a gorilla trekking safaris Uganda. It’s from the fact both golden monkeys and silverback gorillas live in the same park that the slogan “where gold meets silver” was derived.
The golden monkeys in Mgahinga go through a habituation process to get familiar with the presence of humans before they are opened up to tourists. The habituated troops are available for tracking and the semi-habituated groups are available for golden monkey experiential.
Golden monkey trekking isn’t as exhausting as gorilla tracking since the golden monkeys do not build new nests each day and therefore their movement is easily traceable.
The golden monkey experiential is the best way of having a greater insight of the lifestyle of the monkeys. You spend more time with the golden monkeys and learn their behavior before being fully habituated.
Mgahinga’s most striking features are the three conical, extinct volcanoes which are part of the spectacular Virunga range. The slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse with their peaks providing a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery. Hiking in Mgahinga is such a great experience as you challenge yourself on these extinct volcanoes within the gorilla habitat.
For tours to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, contact us to tailor any trip either short or tailor-made to long safaris. Other trips in the same region also include Uganda gorilla safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, wildlife tours to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and hiking in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. With expertise in planning gorilla tracking safaris, we can also customize your Rwanda gorilla tours or gorilla trekking in Congo.
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