HIKING MGAHINGA AND TRACK GORILLAS IN AFRICA

Ultimate-Gorilla-Photo-2-gorilla.jpgA hiking safari to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the southwestern corner of Uganda sharing the border with Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northern most Virunga Volcanoes; Mount Muhavura (4,127 m), Mount Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mount Sabinyo (3,645 m).

It is about 480 Km from Kampala city and 220Km from Mbarara town heading to the park which can take about 8 hours or 4 hours on a chauffeur driven/self-drive. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. 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 of the mountains the area became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas other wild life in the park include Buffalo, Elephants, bushbucks, the threatened golden Monkey and many others.

Volcano Climbing

Mgahinga National park offers three extinct volcanoes for physically fit hikers although they do not require special mountaineering gears. These include;

Mt. Sabinyo (3669m) ‘Old Man’s Teeth’

Like an old man, time has eroded Mt. Sabinyo’s crown. The volcano offers 3 challenging peaks to climb. A climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the Eastern side of the climb to peak one. If you’re to continue, the climb to peak two involves walking a ridge with breath-taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Finally the hike up to peak three is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to make your hands dirty enroute to peak three! Once on top you will be in Rwanda, Democratic republic of Congo and Uganda at the same time. The journey takes about 8 hours round trip to cover the 14 km stretch.

Mt. Gahinga (3474m) ‘Small Pile Of Stones’

On your way to the park look out for small piles of stones in the garden fields. The local people call such a pile a ‘Gahinga’. Mount Gahinga is quite bigger than the average ‘gahinga’ but sitting next to mount Muhavura makes it look small. A hike which takes you about six hours round trip, goes through a good example of a pure bamboo forest. Gahinga once had a crater on top but time has changes into a lush swamp. The distance to the swamp is 8 kms.

Mt. Muhavura (4127m) ‘The Guide’

Seen from all over Kisoro, this volcano acts as a guide. The typical cone-shaped Mountain provides some of the best views in the country. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. Once at the top hikers are rewarded with the view of other virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain. The hike takes approximately 8 hours round trip covering 12 kilometers. Its advisable to camp at the Muhavura base camp the night before, the site has not facilities so you need a tent, water, food, a sleeping bag and mat.

Garama Cave

This is one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were warriors) lived and fought their neighbors, the Bantu. The cave is 342m in length and 14 m deep and is now inhabited by bats.

Birding

Birding along the park is now available on request. Most of the birds may be found on the excellent gorge trail, which loops half way on mount Sabinyo. The key species in Mgahinga include; Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu ground thrush, scarlet tufted Malachite sunbird, Montane double collared Sunbird, Dusky Turtle Dove, Lagden’s Bush shrike, White-tailed blue fly catcher, Alpine Chat, Rwenzori Night Jar to mention but a few.

Where to stay

With Travel 256, we organize an excellent accommodation tailored in accordance to your desires. The park has an ample space at the park gate and Mt. Gahinga Rest Camp for ‘Do it Yourself Camping’, besides that, there is also excellent traditional Bandas managed by the local community.

Kisoro Town which is 14 km to the gate of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from the basic Camp-site to the luxurious full board hotels with you can enjoy in your hired car in Kampala

Gorilla Watching dos and don’ts

  • Keep your voice down or be quiet. You will see and hear if you do.
  • Don’t point or waive your arms- this can be seen as a threat. Move slowly.
  • If approached by a gorilla, back away slowly to keep 5m separation.
  • Don’t use flash, this could threaten the gorillas and bother other visitors.

Mountain Gorilla Tracking with Mbarara Tours

This is the most thrilling tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The habituated gorilla in this park is called the Nyakagezi, which consists of 9 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.

Gorilla tracking in Africa is an intensive experience that can take the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla’s world, explaining aspects of their ecology and behavior along the way.

Mbarara Tours ensures that you enjoy an African exclusive tour that fit your desires. Just contact us by sending an email on info@mbararatours.com or call our travel expert on +256-701367070

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