Situated in the extreme southwestern corner of Uganda on border with Volcanoes Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest park with an area of 33.7 sq km but offers a great diversity of wildlife and cultural encounters of the forest inhabitants and shortest people on earth of the Batwa tribe. The park is marked by 3 distinct volcanic mountains rising at an altitude of 4,127 (highest peak) meters above sea level with four unique vegetation zones of open woodland forests, bamboo forests at 1,800 meters, tropical montane forests at 3,200 meters and the moorland afromontane belt above 3,500 meters consisting of bare rocks, rare species of plants such as giant lobelias, groundsels and tree heathers.
Mgahinga 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. Mgahinga is the Ugandan park of the Virunga Ranges and it is one of the three Virunga Parks that protect the mountain gorillas. The park is also an important habitat for other wildlife.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was gazetted to protect two rare species of primates which are critically endangered, that is the mountain gorillas and the rare golden monkeys. Being a former kingdom of the indigenous Batwa pygmies previously forest dwelling, it has a great cultural importance attached to the ancient heritage of forest warriors, the Garama caves is an evidence to prove the lifestyles of Batwa people in modern times.
Besides the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, the park is a home to over 76 mammals, 350 species of birds including the Albertine rift endemics as well as various plants of medicinal importance. The park offers a wide range of tourist activities such as gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking, bird watching, mountain climbing, cultural trails and ancient Garama cave exploration as well as country boundary nature walks where you will get a chance to stand in all three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and DRC) from one stand point view with breathtaking views of the Virunga mountains.
Quick Facts About Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga Park is a splendid bamboo and tropical rainforest-dominated park located in Kisoro District, Southwestern Uganda. The park is set in the Virunga Conservation Area, and borders Congo Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park. Created in 1991, Mgahinga is the smallest park in Uganda and occupies the land area of 33.7sq.k m. Its establishment was primarily to protect the mountain gorillas.
Mgahinga Park Kisoro –Uganda derives its name from Gahinga, and the word “Gahinga” is translated as piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes.
History of the park
Mgahinga was first recognized as a Game Sanctuary in 1930 under the British administration. It upgraded to a park in 1991 and since its establishment, there is only one group available for trekking –that is Nyakagezi gorilla family.
Climate of Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is an all year round park thanks to its ideal weather/climatic condition. It experiences 2 dry and wet seasons every year. The wet/rainy months include March, April, May and late September to November. Average monthly rainfall record differs but ranges from 250 mm (around October) to 10 mm around July.
About Mgahinga Park
Mgahinga National Park covers 33.7sq.km of land area and makes it the smallest park in Uganda. It is one of the four national parks where you locate the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. The park is part of the Virunga Conservation Area/Virunga Region, and protects variety of Albertine rift endemic species.
Getting to the Park
Getting to Mgahinga National Park Uganda is easier by road or air and by road; you can leave Kampala via Masaka-Mbarara-Kisoro, 9-10 hours’ drive to Mgahinga N/Park. You can also start your trip from Kigali Rwanda cross via Katuna or Chanika border to Kisoro to Mgahinga, a short drive of 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can spend fewer hours on a flight, and on normal day about 2 hours to Kisoro airstrip where you can easily connect to the park and enjoy a gorilla trek/hiking adventure.