MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK

The scenery in and around the park is stunning with three extinct volcanoes Mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhavura and Mount Gahinga all having their slopes in the park. The forests provide shelter and sufficient food for the mountain gorillas and other park animals. Although the park is located in Uganda, it is much easier to access it from Rwanda in a journey that takes about three hours from Kigali through the border Kyanika. The park can also be reached by air and road from Kampala. The road journey from Kampala takes about 8 hours while using a chartered plane from Entebbe takes only one hour.

Mgahinga Gorilla 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, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey. As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has a total population of 80 mountain gorillas, but only one gorilla group is habituated and open to tourists – the Nyakagyezi family. The group used to move to Rwanda and Congo but have now settled in Uganda for more than three years. Gorilla safaris to Mgahinga are great because the park attracts fewer crowds. Having one habituated gorilla group means only 8 gorilla permits can be sold in a day. Visitors are advised to book their permits weeks in advance from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or the Park Headquarters in Ntebeko. A Uganda gorilla permit costs $600 compared to $1,500 in Rwanda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: The Experience

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has three extinct volcanoes of Mount Gahinga which has an elevation of 3474 meters, Mount Sabinyo.