Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. 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. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.
Mgahinga is made up of three extinct volcanoes of Mt. Sabinyo, Mt. Gahinga and Mt. Muhavura, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda.
All three volcanoes in this park can be summited. Mt. Sabinyo, at 3,669m, takes about eight hours to cover the 14km round trip, following a steep ridge up to the peak.
It takes around six hours to ascend and descend Mt. Gahinga (3,474m), topped by a swamp-filled crater and giant lobelia. Lucky climbers may spot golden monkeys on their way through the bamboo forest.
Mt. Muhavura is the highest peak at 4,127m, and this 12km round trip takes around eight hours. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded on a clear day with views of the Virunga Volcanoes, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the peaks of the Rwenzoris.
Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park.
The British administration declared the area a game sanctuary in 1930; it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991.
Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group- the Nyakagezi Gorilla family which has established in the Mgahinga National park over the years
The Batwa were self-sufficient – and visitors can see how during a fascinating tour with a Batwa guide to learn the secrets of the forest.
Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Over the years Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has received tourists for their gorilla safari adventures as the standout activity, but the park has a variety of other activities that range from birding, hiking and nature walks, and mountain climbing on the three volcanoes of Sabinyo, Muhavura and Gahinga, cultural experience with a visit to the Batwa community in Mgahinga.
Accommodation in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
While at Mgahinga Gorilla national park, one should not worry about accommodation because there are various lodges suitable for relaxation and overnight. These are found in Ntebeko, Kisoro and Lake Mutanda. In Ntebeko, the accommodations are; Volcanoes mount Gahinga Safari lodge and Amajambere Iwacu camp. The lodges in Mutanda include; Lake Mutanda Chameleon Hill Lodge. In Kisoro, the lodges where a visitor can stay are; Kisoro Traveler's Rest Hotel and River Mucha Hotel