Mgahinga National Park
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 Monkeys.
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’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct Volcanoes part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.
At just 33.7km2, Mgahinga National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park. 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.
Things to See in Mgahinga National Park
There are lots of things to see in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. From the endangered mountain gorillas to golden monkeys, three of the Virunga Volcanoes and unique flora and fauna.
Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga
Mountain gorillas are among the most endangered primate species that are only found in three countries in the world. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the four national parks that inhabit the forested mountains in southwestern Uganda. In Africa, mountain gorillas are commonly found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Forest National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Volcanoes National park among others.
Mountain gorillas form the main attraction at Mgahinga Gorilla 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. These Gorilla groups frequently ‘pop in’ and take temporary residence for a couple of months at a stretch.
Many tourists visit the Mgahinga National Park for gorilla trekking, though there are many other wild animals that inhabit the forest. Currently there is only one habituated gorilla group that can be visited by the tourists – Nyakagezi Gorilla Group, consists of 9 members, 4 silverbacks, 2 female adults, 1 juvenile and 2 infant.
The mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park live in families that comprise of several individuals. Each family is led by the strongest male mountain gorillas called a silverback. This silverback is always in charge of protecting its family against any intrusion and usually determines the daily routine. The silverback usually leads its subordinates to different parts of the jungle searching for fresh plant leaves and new places for building new nests for the night.