Mgahinga National Park covers 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park. 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.
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, named as Nyakagezi gorilla group. This gorilla group is not stable; it sometimes crosses to Rwanda and DR Congo from Uganda.
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. This is called the “Batwa trail” and costs USD80 per person. You will spend full day with these pygmies, learn more about their history, culture and ways of life.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. 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’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. 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 gorgeous scenery.
Tourist activities in Mgahinga National Park
As you plan your safari to Mgahinga national park, the tourist activities you can do here include gorilla tracking adventure, golden monkey tracking, batwa trail, forest walk, bird watching, photographing and Gahinga mountain hiking where you can have a clear view of the Virunga mountain ranges in Rwanda and DR Congo.
Getting to Mgahinga National Park
The park can be accessed by Road from Kampala and this takes 8-10hrs drive, 3-4hrs drive from Kigali (Rwanda capital), 1-3 hrs drive from Bwindi National park (Depending on where you are), 5hrs drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park and 7 hours drive from Kibale National Park.
Mgahinga National Park can also be accessed by air from Entebbe airport to Kisoro air strip. Aero link Uganda has scheduled flights along this route. There are also charter flights from Kajjansi Air strip / Entebbe airport to Kisoro air strip.
Because Mgahinga National Park is near Rwanda and DR Congo boarders, it is very possible for someone to go gorilla trekking in all countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. You can have 2, 3 or 4 gorilla treks in Volcanoes National (Rwanda), Virunga National Park (DR Congo), Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga National parks in Uganda. For sure this will be an adventure for life time.