How to get to Mgahinga gorilla national park
How to get to Mgahinga gorilla national park : Mgahinga gorilla national park is one of the gorilla destinations located in southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district bordering with volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The national park covers a total land area of 33.7 square kilometers which makes it the smallest protected area in Uganda. Mgahinga gorilla national park was gazetted in 1991 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas which move freely in the forest. The national park sits at an altitude of 2,227metres and 4,127 meters above the sea level which makes it cold during morning and night hours.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is one of the famous destinations in Uganda in that it harbors the endangered mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys which are the major attractions in the country that attract big numbers of visitors.
Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
When travelling to Mgahinga gorilla national park, you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro and then to the park headquarters which takes about 9 to 10 hours’ drive.
The national park can also be accessed by public means of transport though not recommended because you can be overcharged. When using public means you will board a bus from Kampala bus station to Kisoro town and then hire a private taxi to the park headquarters because public means of transport are not allowed in the park.
Mgahinga gorilla national park can also be accessed by visitors on a self-drive where by you will start your journey from Entebbe or Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro and then to Ntebeko park headquarters. The journey takes almost a whole day with stop overs on the way at the equator, Igongo cultural Centre for lunch among others.
It’s tiresome and takes a whole day when travelling by road to Mgahinga gorilla national park but rewarding in that you will have great views of the homesteads, local people, local markets, Kigezi hills, and farmlands, banana plantations among others which make your journey exciting and enjoyable.
There are domestic airline companies in Uganda such as Aerolink which organize flights to Mgahinga gorilla national park. Aerolink Uganda limited operates scheduled and chartered flights daily from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi Airfield to Kisoro airstrip. Flights from Entebbe airport depart at 7:00am and arrive at Kisoro airstrip at 8:10am and the return flights from Kisoro airstrip depart at 8:25am and arrive at Entebbe airport at 11:25am.
Aerolink also organizes connecting flights from other destinations such as Bwindi impenetrable national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Semliki national park among others therefore you can combine gorilla trekking with other activities such as chimpanzee trekking, boat cruise rides, game drives, hot air balloon among others.
Mgahinga gorilla national park can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda and this is the easiest way in that you don’t have to worry about the long distance drive. When travelling from Rwanda you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect by road via Cyanika border to Ntebeko park headquarters which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive. Flying to Kigali is the best option in that you will drive for a short period of time and the safari days will also be less hence helping you to save on transport and accommodation.
Accommodation in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park has a number of luxury, midrange and budget accommodations where you can stay after getting to the park including Mucha Hotel, Mount Gahinga Lodge, 3 Way Gorilla Resort, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Volcano Safari Lodge, Rugigana Campsite, Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro, Mutanda Island Lodge, Amajambere lwacu Community Camp among others.
Activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park
There are many activities that you can engage in after getting to Mgahinga gorilla national park including
Gorilla trekking, this is the most popular activity in the Mgahinga gorilla national park where you get an opportunity to visit the habituated gorilla families in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking in the park is done in the morning with a briefing where after you will be grouped into 8 individuals to trek each habituated gorilla family and then start trekking in the jungle with a park guide. Trekking of the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga gorilla national park takes about 3o minutes to 6 hours depending on their location and once the gorillas are found, you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat.
Golden monkey trekking, this is another interesting activity done in Mgahinga gorilla national park. golden monkey trekking is the second most done activity in the park after gorilla trekking and it involves moving in the forest in search of the habituated golden monkey families and once found you will be able to spend one hour with them learning about their lifestyle, behaviors, watching them playing in the trees, taking pictures and recording videos to show people back home.
Birding, Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of over 180 bird species with 12 species endemic to the Albertine rift. After getting to the park, you can engage in birding where you can look out for bird species including cape robin chat, speckled mouse bird, African paradise flycatcher, African olive pigeon, blue headed coucal, dusky crimsonwing, Kivu ground thrush, Ruwenzori batis, archers robin chat, Ruwenzori turaco, black kite among others.
Batwa trail experience, this is a thrilling activity in Mgahinga gorilla national park where you take a nature walk in the forest with a Twa guide or pygmy guide who will be showing you how they lived in the forest, plant species that were used as medicine, how they used to fetch water with bamboo cups, make fire with sticks, hunt and gather honey and the trail also leads you to Ngarama cave which used to be the palace for the king and also acted as a training Centre, granary/food store and a hiding place from the bantu. During the Batwa trail experience you will be entertained by the Batwa women who will be performing sorrowful songs in the cave on how they used to live in the forest before it was gazetted as a national park in 1991.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is a must visit destination that has a lot to offer in terms of attractions and activities such as gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking among others therefore in order to get to the park you can either use air transport which is the fasted or road transport which takes a whole day but rewards you with spectacular views along the way.