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Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla safaris are carried out in the Uganda’s smallest national park with 33.7 sq. km. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and to the west by the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla safaris take you to the larger Virunga Conservation area that spreads over the three countries. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Volcanoes National Park and Parc National des Virunga respectively. 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. Mountain gorillas form the main attraction at Mgahinga National Park, which protects the Ugandan portion of the Virungas, an imposing string of nine freestanding extinct and active volcanoes that runs along the border with Rwanda and the Congo. From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon 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 Park has great biological importance because throughout 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.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorilla trekking safaris are the main park activities. In addition to the gorilla trekking, Mgahinga National Park offers great opportunities to trek golden monkeys. The golden monkey species belong to the ole world monkeys that reside in the Virunga volcanic region of East and Central Africa, the Golden Monkey belongs to the family with botanical name (CercopithecusKandit). In Rwanda, the Golden monkeys specifically occupy the North-western part in Volcanoes National park, while in Uganda; they occupy the south west in Mgahinga National Park. In deed one can agree that it’s restrained to boundaries of highland forests, it is also significant to note that the Golden monkey is red-marked on the IUCN Red-List, “list of seriously endangered species.”

Golden monkeys live in big numbers where by a group has a range of 60-80 members. The activity was introduced in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to complement on the Nyakagyezi gorilla family in the national park. Endemic to the Albertine Rift, the golden monkey is characterized as a bright orange-gold body, cheeks and tail, contrasting with its black limbs, crown and tail end. The main purpose was to diversify tourism in Mgahinga gorilla national park and increase the number of travelers to and tourism activities offered in the national park.

Other activities include mountain climbing, caving and birding. The hike starts from the Mgahinga National Park visitor’s centre, located about a 10 minute drive from Kisoro. Recently renovated, the centre features rock paths that meaner through the vegetation to the building. Beautiful rain chains conserve rainwater for gardening around the centre and under a high beamed log ceiling interactive displays and maps line the walls. There are 3 volcanoes in Mgahinga  that you can access from this park therefore the choice is always yours depending to the fitness and the amount of time you have. Hiking the Virunga Volcanies in Mgahinga can be fun and really rewarding because there are lots of attractions you will meet during your hike.  Most hikers usually go for Mt. Gahinga which is as high as 3,474m. This hike takes about six hours to both ascend and descend, once at the top you will find the crater filled with swamp and giant lobelia. Those who are lucky will be able to see the golden monkeys as they walk through that thick bamboo forest. The other option is hiking Mt. Sabinyo which is 3,669m and to get to the top of this mountain requires eight hours since the distance from the base to the top is about 14km long round trip. As you hike, you will have to follow the route along the steep ridge up until you get to the peak.

For climbers, Mt. Muhavura is the third option available for the hikers. This is the highest peak of all and it lies at 4,127m high and the hike is planned for the same amount of time as Sabyinyo which is eight hours. This means, you need to be fit enough to catch up with the fast hiking exercise. When you reach the top, you will have a beautiful view of the Virunga Volcanoes, there is a clear view of Lake Edward, the great Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and also the Rwenzori peaks. Bird watching lovers will have fun as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is blessed with a unique bird fauna; 79 bird species have thus far been recorded within the park, including several species endemic to the East Congo Montane region. Bird species include include Rwenzori Turaco, Crowned Hornbill, Black Kite and Crowned Crane, Handsome Francolin, Dusky Turtle Dove, Alpine Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird and Montane Double-collared Sunbird amongst others.

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