Where Gold Meets Silver
Mgahinga is part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434sq km) which includes two adjacent parks in Rwanda and Congo. Mgahinga gorilla National Park sits between 2,227m and 4,127m. It was formed to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit the dense forests, and it’s also an important habitant for the endangered golden Monkey. Its most striking features are its three conical, extint 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 Coservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries.
The park offers a soothing aura of majesty with cool temperatures owing to the mountainous nature of the park. Its home to part of 300 gorillas located in the Virunga massif. It is indeed where gold meets silver where gorillas are housed with the same habitat of the golden monkeys. The cultural heritage featuring folklore and traditional healing practices for local people covers the north slopes of the three northern Virunga Volcanoes- Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.
The park derives its name from “Gahinga” a Kinyarwanda word for a pile of volcanic Lava stone heaps around which cultivation is carried out. On the other hand, Muhavura means guide and Sabinyo means the Old man’s teeth. It is bordered to the south by Rwanda and to the west by DR Congo.
While Sabinyo is deeply eroded with jagged crown and deep gorges and ravines, Gahinga has a swamp filled- crater about 180m wide and Muhavura has a small crater about 36m wide at its summit.
While at the top of the Sabinyo, you get to be set foot in all the three countries of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda at the same time. Its view of the volcanoes and gorges with the cool breeze of the freshness is unrivaled. On some of the steep mountain slopes are caves formed by Larva tubes, one of them being the famous Garama cave located near Ntebeko, the park headquarters.
HOW TO ACCESS THE MGAHINGA GORILLA PARK
Mgahinga park can be accessed either by road or by air transport; by road its 510km from Kampala, the most commonly used road is through Kabale -Kisoro and then to Mgahinga National Park which is 14 km from Kisoro town.
Mgahinga can also be accessed or reached by air using the daily flights from Entebbe International airport to Kisoro airfield.
BIRDING: The best birding in Mgahinga also takes in some of its most beautiful scenery in the gorge between mountains Gahinga and Sabinyo, through the bamboo forest, and in the montane forest, where the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco may be spotted.
CULTURAL ENCOUNTERS: For generations, Mgahinga’s dense forests were home to the indigenous Batwa-hunter-gatherers and fierce worriers who depended on the forests for shelter, food and medicine. Now they lead visitors through the forests and introduce them to their old home and the techniques they used to survive in it.
GORILLA TRACKING: After briefing at exactly 800hours, the guides will lead you through the Gorilla’s world, surrounded by wild forest and impressive birdlife, explaining the gorillas’ behavior along the way. Tracking excursions leave from Ntebeko Entrance Gate at 8am daily and last between two and four hours.
HIKING AND NATURE WALKS: Hiking around the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes gives visitors the chance to spot forest birds, the Rugezi Swamp, wild vegetation, bamboo forests and glorious views of the surrounding lakes and agricultural villages.
MOUNTAIN/ VOLCANO CLIMBING: All the three Volcanoes in the park can be summited, taking a full day each. Views from the peaks are well worth the effort-taking in Rwanda, DR Congo, the Virungas, the Rwenzori’s, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Lake Edward.