Mgahinga Gorilla is situated in the farthest south-western corner of Uganda. Travellers approaching from Entebbe International Airport can take a 1-hour flight to Kisoro, followed by a 15-minute road transfer. If you are driving from Queen Elizabeth N.P., the journey takes 3–4 hours, while the road trip from Lake Mburo takes 5–7 hours.
Covering just 33.7 square kilometres of forest at an altitude of 2,000–4,000 metres, this national park may be Uganda’s smallest, but it’s highly significant for the mountain gorilla! This is because it provides one of very few habitats for the furry fellows. Unsurprisingly, the main activity available from Mgahinga Gorilla’s camps and lodges is gorilla treks. These are not offered to children aged 14 years and younger, due to safety concerns.
In fact, the park was set up to protect the gorillas, hence its name. The word Gahinga refers to the piles of volcanic stones found at the base of the Virunga volcanoes – these have been cleared from farmland.
Mgahinga Gorilla is home to just one habituated group of mountain gorilla. Known as Nyakagezi, this group contains nine members, including two babies and a 50-year-old silverback called Bugingo. The best times of year to go on treks are during the dry season – June to October, December to February – as the trails are less slippery then. However, green-season trekking is cheaper, in terms of the price paid for a gorilla permit.
Whenever you choose to travel here, the experience of a gorilla trek is very memorable. The terrain can be quite difficult to negotiate, but the guides are well able to assist and the sight of mountain gorilla in their natural habitat is well worth the effort! A trek lasts from one to eight hours.
Golden monkey treks are also possible within the park. Both activities involve seeing a lot of wildlife. In total, 76 species inhabit the forest vegetation, and safarists can look out for elephant, forest buffalo, giant forest hog, golden cat, side-striped jackal, black-fronted duiker, porcupines, and much more!
The birding is impressive too. The Uganda Wildlife Authority reports approximately 180 species, including ibis, pin-tailed whydah, speckled moosebird, paradise flycatcher, and firefinch. Most properties provide birding walks, so if this is something that interests you make sure you pack your binoculars!
Many other activities are on offer in the national park, such as volcano climbing, caldera hiking, and experiences with the Batwa people including village visits, farm walks, and even song-and-dance performances! We recommend two excellent lodges – Mount Gahinga (close to the national park entrance) and Chameleon Hill (between Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable N.P.).
If you are interested in visiting this small yet significant national park, please contact a member of our expert team.