Mgahinga national park is the smallest but one of the most beautiful parks in Uganda. What sets this park aside from the others is the fact that it is set in the clouds amidst, the magnificent Virunga volcanoes at the convergence of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC borders. This park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in Kisoro district. The park is home to 39 species of mammals including giant forest hogs, bush pigs, forest buffalos and elephants. This beautiful place is one of a kind since it’s one of four places in the world that boasts of the golden monkeys that are found in the bamboo forests of the Virunga Mountains.
Gorilla tracking is the most famous activity this park has to offer and it is only the Nyakagezi gorilla group that is tracked to its safariers. In the morning hours, trackers start off from Ntebeko with a group of trained rangers who give the safariers an informative lecture on the whole experience. Usually, the whole exercise could go for a whole day or hours depending on the location the gorillas take looking for food. However, safariers get the opportunity to see birds on the tree, monkeys and other animals as they pass through the forest. The wonders of witnessing the habituation experience at the park is one glorious experience you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
The parks most striking feature is the 3 extinct volcanoes; Mountain Sabinyo, Mountain Gahinga, and Mountain Muhavura. Safariers who come to this place for purposes of hiking will enjoy the long treks to all of the 3 peaks that offer panoramic views of Margherita in the Rwenzori, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth and the neighboring Bwindi impenetrable. The most magical thing is the fact that at Mount Sabinyo, safariers are able to stand in the 3 countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the D R Congo at the same time.
For bird lovers, the park is a habitat to a diverse species of up to 180 birds. The 4-hour trail between Gahinga and the Sabinyo offers a spectacular sighting of the dusky Tuerte dove, cape robin –chat, Kivu-ground thrust, olive thrush, brown –crowned Tchagra, bronze sunbird and many others. Other birding sights are the parks swamps, bamboo forest, and the ground level of the Uganda –DRC border where you find the Chubb’s Cisticola, red-faced woodland warbler, Banded Prinia and the Doherty’s bush shrike.
For those who love the hiking experience, there is no better place to be other than the home of these three beautiful mountains in the Virunga range. It takes about 8 hours to reach Mountain Sabinyo and about 6 hours through the bamboo forest to reach the swamp filled crater with giant lobelias at the top of Mountain Gahinga. The Gahinga has a beautiful swamp at the top; the beautiful hike to the cone-shaped Mountain Muhavura peak offers the most spectacular view of the beautiful Crater Lake. This scenic views of vegetation along these slopes give one the feeling of complete enthusiasm and it’s never an adventure without beholding this experience.
Those that choose to hike get firsthand experience into the lives of the Batwa communities living inside the forests of the park. They get the opportunity to learn about the ancient culture, how they hunt and collect honey, how they make tools and crafts and also listen to the tales and folklore. The trail also includes a visit to the sacred Garama cave that is said to have once been the home to the Batwa king. At this cave, safariers are entertained with peculiar songs and dances by the Batwa women mourning the loss of their home in the forest. Safariers get the opportunity of buying arts and crafts which only ensures that the locals get the money that empowers them to support their families.
The park offers a beautiful view at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains for those that choose to take nature walks. Nature walks start at the safariers Centre at Ntebeko through the 5 vegetation zones, farmland, montane woodland, bamboo forest, and the tree heathers. The road offers views of magical scenery and the vegetation that acts as a relaxing remedy to safariers who love the outdoor experience. What is most exciting is you get to use your camera to take photos, this is the perfect sight for the most memorable photoshoots because it is rich in wildlife and nature.