The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in south-western Uganda and encompasses three inactive volcanoes, namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo. It’s also found in the Nile River watershed area. On the side Rwanda, there is Volcanoes National Park and the southern sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The park is about 15 kilometres by road south of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometres by road west of Kabale town, the largest city in the sub-region.
This Park was established in 1991 in an area that used to be a game reserve between the 1930s and 1950, but part of it was altered to crop fields in the lower altitudes. Biological surveys were initiated in 1989, wire traps destroyed, rangers trained and trees planted. Settlers were relocated to areas outside the national park’s borders in the early 1990s.
The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and welcomes you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate.
Mgahinga Gorilla national Park has great biological signifancy because of the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
Primates of the national park include mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, and also the Albertine endemic birds were recorded in the national park during surveys in 2004 and these are: Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, Archer’s ground robin, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, strange weaver, montane nightjar, red-faced woodland warbler and Grauer’s swamp warblerhandsome francolin, dusky crimson-wing, red-throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turaco and Rwenzori batis.
Gorilla tracking This is the Major tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The habituated gorilla family is called the Nyakagezi, which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. However, due to their constant movement it is advisable to check the current location of the gorillas first.
Gorilla tracking is an interesting activity that can be done for the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla’s world, explaining facts of their ecology and behaviour along the way. Reach them and take pictures to make your safari memorable.