Wildlife Encounters

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

By virtue of its size of 33Km2, this is Uganda’s smallest national park, but don’t be deceived by its small scope. It is packed with a thriving wildlife, including one gorilla family, Nyakagezi. It is made of three dormant volcanoes namely Muhavura (4,127m), Sabyinyo (3,634m) and Mgahinga (3,474m). Their summits are famed for offering unlimited views of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. This is thanks to its strategic location at a point where borders of the three countries intersect. 

The gorilla trek here too rates as one of the most special wildlife experiences that destination Uganda has to offer. This is partly because the park is never crowded, thereby offering a more qualitative experience.

Being a mountainous setting, the gorilla trek entails hiking to higher altitudes through thick forest with the aid of walking sticks. If need arises, you can make the most of local helpers who assist in giving you an extra push/pull/drag as you get through the roughest parts of the trek. The reward in the end makes the endurance worthwhile when these big, beautiful, human-like monoliths are finally located. As they stare at you amongst lush greenery, you’ll be spellbound. Despite having such a no-nonsense look, they are surprisingly tolerant of ranger guides cutting foliage around where they are hanging out so you can get a better look.

Mgahinga National Park
Mountain Gorilla

A visit to Mgahinga is incomplete without a day visit to the Batwa pygmy tribe for an immersive cultural experience. Expect to experience, a “living museum” in a forest that doubles as an ancestral home where they lived alongside the gorillas for centuries until they were evicted in early 1990’s when Mgahinga was gazetted as a National Park.

Alternatively, you can opt for a golden monkey trek or mountain climbing. Both adventures offer worthwhile encounters with distinctive vegetation zones that thrive at an altitude of 2,400m-4,500m above sea level. At their foothills, from 2400-2500 meters above sea level, there lies a thriving lower montane forest that overlooks well maintained farmlands of irish and barley. From 2600-3200 meters, there exists a 24,000 year old Neoboutonia forest and Bamboo forest that doubles as a favourite delicacy of the gorillas. The next vegetation is Hagenia woodland, followed by a Hypericum zone exists. The mountain is caped with a Lobelia zone (from 3500 to 4200m) and a thicket (from 4300-4500m). Here, you will find mashes and a grassland that is supported by a complex crater lake system. Each of these vegetation is abundantly blessed with unique species of flora that are of interest to botanists.

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