MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK
Mgahinga National Park is found in South western Uganda in Kisoro district. The park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga volcanoes, Mt Muhavura, Gayinga, Mt Sabinyo, bordering volcanoes National park of Rwanda and to the west by Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic OF Congo. This is the smallest national park in Uganda at around 33.7km2 and it was created in 1991 though the place was first cleared and announced as a place for animals by the British administration back in 1930 between 2227m-4127m above the sea level. This game park was purposely created to protect the rare mountain gorillas and also serve as the habitant for other animals like the golden monkeys, antelopes and buffalos.
The park is part of the large Virunga conservation area that is shared by the three major countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda making Mgahinga sharing 8% of the Virunga Conservation Area though each country protects its area of the Virunga.
Mgahinga has a great biological importance throughout the climatic changes of the ancient Pleistocene ice on mountains which provide a refugee for mountains plants and animals and these moved downwards or upward the slopes as climate became cooler or warmer. There are 3 gorilla families that are said to be in Mgahinga National Park
ACTIVITIES AT MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK
Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park
Trekking gorillas is among the most interesting activities a visitor shouldn’t miss when on Uganda safari at Mgahinga national park. The activity is carried out between 2-4 times depending on the location of the gorillas or how far the gorillas have moved. Because gorillas can contract human diseases, if a visitor has a certain disease, let it be a cold, your advised to reschedule when the disease has been treated, in case a visitor happen to ease him or herself, all waste must be covered /buried 30cm deep. Flash photographing is also not allowed and trekking must be carried out by people of 15yrs and above only 8 people per trekking group. Mountain gorillas are such an interesting animal to see and in case you happen to see them, that experience alone will give you a time to remember.
Golden monkey trekking
Visitors can as well shoot two birds at once while trekking gorillas, you trek the golden monkeys as well. Trekking golden monkeys may be an active adventure because they are so fast and small primates This activity takes 4 hours per session of which your allowed to take photos before going back to your lodge or camp. These golden monkeys have different species of about 6 and they have due to the habituation process grown and less evasive of human presence in their sanctuary. They are found in bamboo tree branches up on tress. Remember too carry personal cameras to freeze these adventure memories.
There is a lot to see when visited the Mgahinga national park, hiking is an interesting activity in this park mostly because of the topography. Volcanoes, three volcanoes that form the Virunga Ranges shared by Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Each name given I to these mountains has a local meaning Sabinyo old man’s teeth, Gahinga pile of stones, and Muhavura meaning a guide. Here mountain Muhavura is the tallest of all of them with the advantages of watching other mountains when standing at its peak. This can be seen as far as Kisoro town that’s why is called the guide leading you to the rest of other mountain Virunga. Climbing these mountains could be the most interesting thing in your life and both mountains can be climbed in a day each up to their summits long as you are in good physical shape.
Birding in the Albertine Rift Valley
Birding in this area is done in Albertine Rift Valley of over 180 bird species, the activity can be done any time all the year. Visitors will enjoy a good list of the area especially on the Albertine rift endemics in this area especially on gorge trail and the birds here include, Cape Robin-Chat, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, Black –headed Waxbill and Streaky Seedeater, Malachite, Scarlet-tufted Sun, striped breasted Tit, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, White Stared Robin, Greater, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Bats and many others that are so wonderful to watch.
Batwa Trail Experience
Visitors here get the chances of viewing the Batwa and their cultural/the African Pygmies. this was their home before being set as the National Park. They were ejected from the park and some of them stay near the park nowadays and also participate in the tourism as tour guides though they were hunter gatherers. The Batwa trail gives knowledge to the visitor about the activity and will take you through all their transition and history over time. Their secret piece known as Garama Cave and is good start to know about the history of the Batwa.
Natural Walks in Mgahinga
Hiking at the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes gives the visitors a chance to watch the Rugezi swamp, forests and birds, wild vegetation, and also viewing the surrounding vegetation and the agriculture around the village.
Hiking through the forest towards the heart Sabinyo Gorge gives the higher chances for birding and also gives an opportunity to see Rwenzori Turaco. The hiking takes 4 hours and goes through the Rugezi swamp where keen birders watch most birds from.
The walk to Congo border goes through various vegetation zones. Hikers view calderas on height of the Gisozi hill, you will also Bunagana and Kisoro town also the lake Mutanda
Garama cave exploration
When you get the opportunity to visit the Mgahinga National park at your Ugandan safari, it will be of more experience to visit the Garama cave. This cave has 342 meters long lies beneath the plateau at the northern edge of the par,3km from Ntebeko. Its set in former homeland zone and was used as a council chamber and retreat hall by the Batwa