Mgahinga is one of two locations in Uganda in which mountain gorillas are found; the other being Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes.
The park has one habituated gorilla group, although this group sometimes crosses the border into Rwanda, which means Mgahinga is not a reliable spot for viewing gorillas.
There are 76 mammal species recorded, including buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, golden monkeys. 115 bird species have been recorded, including Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, yellow-billed kite and grey crowned crane. Mgahinga hosts a population of golden monkeys and a few families of mountains gorillas.
This park was once a home to the mountain gorillas but then they migrated to Rwanda in the Volcanoes.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, is part of the bigger Virunga Conservation Area, now jointly protected area with Congo and Rwanda.
The national park also covers three of the eight Virunga volcanoes: Mount Muhavura at 4127, Mount Gahinga-3474 and Mount Sabyinyo at 3634, all of which lie on the Uganda/Rwanda border. Any of these can be climbed in one day from the park headquarters.
It is over a 9hours drive via Kabale. For those without private transport, there are daily bus transport services, which set off at 0700 hours. Once in Kisoro town, tourists can hike or take a special hire vehicle to the park gate. It is also possible to fly to Kisoro.