Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is among the top ten National Parks to visit in Uganda and it’s ranked to be the second gorilla hosting destination in Uganda after Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This park is inclusive of the Virunga Massif, it covers about 33.7km2 of Area and it’s located in the South Western part of Uganda in Kisoro district. It is about 15 kilometres, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometres, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park includes three of the eight Virunga Mountains volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo and these dormant volcanoes are international mountains, with Muhabura and Gahinga on the Uganda/Rwanda border, and Sabyinyo a tripoint on the Uganda/Rwanda/Democratic Republic of the Congo borders.
While in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park the main activities to do is gorilla trekking safaris, Golden Monkey tracking plus Visiting the Batwa people in their local communities (Batwa Trail Cultural experience).
Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Mgahinga National Park.
Mgahinga is also commonly known for Mountain gorillas in Uganda and it has only one gorilla family for tracking named the Nyakagezi Gorilla family, this Nyakagezi Gorilla family is led by a dominant Silver back named Mark and it likes traveling that’s why this family usually crosses borders.
For your gorilla trekking safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park you will either land in Entebbe or Rwanda, when you land in Entebbe you will drive about 8-9 hours from Entebbe to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kisoro which looks to be more tiresome than when you land in Rwanda at Kigali Airport and cross border to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is inclusive of the Virunga Massif which is composed of it, Volcanoes & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and that’s why it’s near Rwanda. But when you are to land in Rwanda you have to apply for a multiple Visa which helps you in crossing border to Uganda and then back to Rwanda, this Visa costs $100 USD per person.
Visiting Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park you must buy a gorilla permit which costs $700 USD per person and this money is paid in advance before your trekking dates to book for the Permits in advance. While in Mgahinga for gorilla trekking early in the morning after your breakfast you will be briefed at the park headquarters by the officials about the Dos and Don’ts while in the Jungle. Some of the Don’ts while in the Jungle are listed below; –
- First of all, if you are suspected to be with any infectious disease you are not allowed to go for the trekking.
- Always move slowly while in the Jungle.
- Always keep your voice at low tone while in the jungle.
- Do not eat in the presence of these apes.
- Do not run after the Gorillas while in the Jungle.
- Do not touch on the apes without permission.
- Keep about 7-meter distance from these apes.
- When you go to ease yourself burry your wastes 30 centimeters deep.
- Do not use flush cameras when taking photos of these apes.
After the briefing you will be assigned a park ranger to lead you through the Jungle and after discovering these apes you are allowed to stay around with them for only one hour while enjoying their behaviours, seeing them playing with their young ones and taking photos of these apes for memories. After the tracking next step is trekking back to the park offices for Gorilla trekking Certificate Award for the recognition of your experience.
Batwa Cultural Experience:
Echuya Batwa commonly known as the pygmies are the most vulnerable, marginalized, voiceless and endangered group of people around Echuya Forest Reserve in Kisoro and Kabale Districts of South-Western Uganda, this Echuya Forest Reserve is located in the Albertine Rift region.
The Batwa people are believed to have migrated from Ituli Forest of Democratic Republic of Congo in search of animals for hunting, these Batwa people locally live in Small huts made from sticks and grass because they were forest dwelling hunter gatherers.
But after the Establishment of both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in 1991 these people were chased out of the forest by the responsible authorities and stopped them from hunting.
This experience involves visiting these local people in their communities and share with them through participating in different activities like Cultural dances when they are entertaining the visitors, putting on their Cultural clothings, you will also have a chance of using their cultural tools they used like tools for hunting including spears, Panga’s and more.
You will also be able to experience their current life of living. To participate in this experience, you must pay a cost of $80 USD per person including the entrance fees.