Mgahinga national park is Uganda’s smallest national park. It was first declared a game sanctuary in 1930 during colonial time by the British and then later gazetted into a park in 1991. It was gazetted to protect the rare mountain gorillas that call it home, and other primates like the golden monkey that are also found here.
It has three striking features which are the volcanoes; these are part of the much larger Virunga ranges which boarder Congo in the east and Rwanda to the north. Their varied eco system is of great cultural importance especially to the indigenous Batwa pygmies with their hunting and gathering life together with their history and knowledge of this place.
One of the iconic attractions in Mgahinga national park is the mountain gorillas. The park is one of the two parks where the rare mountain gorillas can be found. Visitors to this park purposely come for gorilla tours.This adventurous activity normally starts at 8:00am after being briefed about the dos and don’ts of the experience at Ntebeko park headquarters.
Travelers are always led by the guides and trackers through the forest to find the gentle giants after which they are allowed to spend up to an hour with them, seeing their way of life and taking pictures in this mind blowing experience. With over 80 mountain gorillas, the park has only one habituated gorilla family, the Nyakagezi group with 9 members for tracking.This means that availability of permits is not guaranteed since they are highly demanded.
The second attraction here are the rare golden monkeys. Golden monkey tracking is another mind blowing experience that you can always combine with gorilla trekking to make you have more fun. Uganda and Rwanda are the only places where you can track these golden body, black limbed-crowned primates.
What makes the experience more phenomenal is that these golden monkeys are habituated and so they won’t shy away from people while being tracked, and more to that this activity is not as hectic as gorilla trekking.
Bird life in Mgahinga national park. Birds are another common attraction in Mgahinga. The park is home to 179-184 species including grey capped warbler, Rwenzori Batis, wax bills, Rwenzori turaco among others.Birding will take you to best spots in this park as you also enjoy the most scenic views you can ever imagine.
You can also feel the forest through the eyes of the first inhabitants while doing the Batwa forest trail. This is a must do activity in the park because it combines both nature walk and a cultural walk to see how this indigenous tribe moved about with their life in the forest including how they hunted, gathered food, herbs, honey, medicine, made clothing and many others.
The Batwa people will be the guides themselves. The sacred Garama cave is also attached to this group of people, because it’s where their king lived and they would hide there in times of war.
Mountain Climbing in Mgahinga is also another adventure for the one intending to visit this national park. The climbing makes you even access all the three countries on mount Sabinyo peak; this requires some level of fitness, strength and stamina plus agility to make it a complete success in this wonder land.
Other than climbing, you can do hiking depending on your choice which will always take you up to five hours. What makes this a whole lot interesting is that you never know what you can encounter during the hiking because there is always plenty of nature in this park.
Being small does not necessarily mean that it is limited inactivities; the park has a lot to offer and there are endless activities to be done while in this gorilla land.