Gorilla families in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Gorilla families in Mgahinga gorilla national park: Mgahinga gorilla national park is the smallest protected area located in southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district bordering Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Gorilla families are the groups of the habituated mountain gorillas that live in the park. Mgahinga gorilla national park harbors over 100 mountain gorillas with two habituated gorilla families namely Nyakagezi and Hirwa.
Nyakagezi gorilla family
Nyakagezi is a habituated gorilla family that has been available for trekking on a daily basis. Nyakagezi is a place or area in the park where the gorilla group was first sighted by the trackers. the gorilla group was known for migrating in the neighboring destinations that is Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and due to this behavior some visitors were afraid of booking a gorilla trekking permit because they were not sure of viewing the gorilla family but Nyakagezi later settled in Uganda and visitors are assured of viewing it in Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Nyakagezi was habituated in 1991 after it was gazetted as a national park and open for trekking in 1994. After habituated the gorilla family was under the leadership of Bugingo silverback and was succeeded by Mark and after taking on leadership Bugingo stayed in the group and was given a title of Mzee which implies elder. Unlike other silverbacks which become loners after being over powered Bugingo silverback stayed in the group and it’s believed that he is about 54 years of age, this means that Nyakagezi is a unique and interesting gorilla family that is worth visiting. Mark leads the group with his brother mafia who is the assistant and the gorilla group is comprised of 10 members including 5 silverbacks namely Mark, Mafia, Rukundo, Ndugutse and Bugingo, 2 adult females namely Nshuti and Nyiramwiza and 3 youngsters namely Fred, baby Nshuti and Mutagamba.
Nyakagezi gorilla group is one of the easiest gorilla families to trek in that it lives in the low land areas of Mgahinga national park unlike other gorilla families in Bwindi impenetrable national park which live in steep slopes.
Hirwa gorilla family
Hirwa is a Kinyarwanda word that means lucky one and this is another gorilla family that migrated from Volcanoes national park Rwanda to Mgahinga gorilla national park in October 2019. The gorilla family spit from Susa gorilla group due to misunderstanding between Munyinga silverback the first leader of Hirwa family and the dominant leader of Susa group where Munyinga left with 2 adult females to form his own group.
Hirwa gorilla family migrated to Mgahinga gorilla national park with 17 individuals and on 3rd February there was a tragedy where 4 members of Hirwa family including 3 adult females and 1 infant silverback were struck by lightning and the group is now comprised of 13 members. Hirwa gorilla group is also visited by travellers in Mgahinga gorilla national park and we do not know the time when this gorilla family will migrate back to Volcanoes national park.
Due to two habituated gorilla families in Mgahinga gorilla national park, there are about 16 gorilla trekking permits that are available daily for visitors who want to spend time with the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. A gorilla trekking permit in Mgahinga gorilla national park costs $600 per person for foreign non-residents, $500per person for foreign residents and UGX 250,000per person for East African citizens. The price of a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda was however increased by $100 therefore effective 1st July 2020 foreign non-residents will be paying $700 per person and $600 per person for foreign residents.
A gorilla trekking permit in Mgahinga gorilla national park can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through Achieve global safaris which is a trusted and the leading tour company in Uganda. Gorilla trekking permits should however be booked 3 to 6 months in advance before the trekking date in order to avoid last minute disappointments because they are competitive especially during the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules, regulations and expectations at Ntebeko park headquarters. After the briefing, you will be grouped into 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla family. grouping of individuals is done according to age, personal preferences and physical fitness therefore visitors who are not physically fit are require to communicate with their guides so that they are allocated a gorilla family that is near to trek.
Trekking of the gorilla families in Mgahinga gorilla national park starts at around 8:00am and takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on the location of the gorillas. Once the gorillas have been found, you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat learning about their behaviors, habits, lifestyle, taking photos and recording the moments which gives you unforgettable memories on your safari.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is the best destination to visit for gorilla trekking in that it has less crowds because there are only two gorilla families that are visited daily and the gorilla families in the park are easy to trek due to the fact that they live in low land areas. Apart from gorilla trekking Mgahinga gorilla national park has other thrilling activities that visitors can participate in on their safari including golden monkey trekking, birding where they will view different bird species, Batwa trail experience, nature walk where you will explore the park as you breath fresh air, feel the cool breeze, view various plant species among others.