Attractions in Mgahinga national park
Attractions in Mgahinga national park are those things that make tourists move front their destinations to the park. Mgahinga national park is a small gazetted piece of land in the southwestern part of the country covering 33.7sq.km. The national park was gazetted in 1991 to protect endangered mountain gorillas, wild animals, and vegetation.
Mgahinga national park has a number of attractions among which include birds, mammals, primates, mountains, and much more which attract tourists to the park. The 33.9 sq. km area of Mgahinga national park is home to a vast array of wildlife. In this article, we are going to look at the different activities tourists can have while in Mgahinga national park.
Attractions in Mgahinga national park
The main attractions in Mgahinga national park are the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered species of primates found in a few places in the world and one of them is Mgahinga national park of Uganda. Mgahinga national park is the smallest national park in Uganda but it has primates that are said to be close to human beings with 98% human DNA.
Mountain gorillas of Mgahinga national park attract a maximum of 8 people every day in the park. The tourists visit the park to get an opportunity of spending at least 1 hour with these endangered apes in their natural habitats. Tourists who want to see mountain gorillas must have gorilla permits obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
On the morning of trekking, the tourists move to Ntebeko which is the briefing point in the park to learn the rules and regulations of the activity. The search for the mountain gorillas is led by ranger guides with firearms and these lead trekkers into the jungle where they look for the mountain gorillas. The search goes for 1 to 7 hours and when the mountain gorillas are found, the trekkers do get 1 hour to be around them and watch them carry out daily activities.
Mgahinga Golden monkeys
These are endangered species of primates found in only the Virunga conservation area that comprises Mgahinga, Virunga, and Volcanoes national park. In Uganda, the only place to see golden monkeys is Mgahinga national park. The national park has bamboo vegetation where these golden monkeys like to hang.
Golden monkeys are seen by travelers who purchase golden monkey trekking permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The search for the golden monkeys in Mgahinga is carried out all throughout the year and it starts with the briefing where trekkers do get to learn the rules and regulations of the activity. Searching takes a few hours because they live in the bamboo trees and when trekkers encounter them they are given 1 hour to watch them carry out daily activities, and take photos.
Birds are another attraction in Mgahinga national park as it boasts over 180 bird species among include 14 that are endemic to the Albertine rift region. Bird lovers to Mgahinga national park can always organize with the rangers for birding activities in different areas of the park. The birds of Mgahinga national park are seen using trails like Sabyinyo gorge, bamboo, border, and buffalo wall.
Birds in Mgahinga national park include cape robin chat, cinnamon bracken warbler, dusky turtle dove, buff spotted flufftail, scarlet tufted malachite sunbird, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turaco, dusky crimsonwing, red-throated alethe, cinnamon chested bee-eater, African olive pigeon, strange weaver, handsome francolin, white-tailed blue flycatcher, bronze sunbird, and western tinker bird among others.
Mgahinga national park is a mountainous area with three dormant volcanoes located in different areas of the park. The national park hosts Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Muhabura. The mountains found in Mgahinga national park are part of the 8 Virunga volcanoes with others found in Rwanda and DR Congo.
The mountains of Mgahinga national park are home to different animals especially the golden monkeys and also mountain gorillas. Tourists who do hike these mountains get to see different birds and animals of the park as well as the best scenic views of the surrounding areas and the park.
The Batwa pygmies of Mgahinga
The Batwa pygmies of Mgahinga are liked by tourists who love to explore the African culture. Batwa pygmies of Mgahinga are short pygmies who had their homes in the jungles of Mgahinga national park before being evicted during the time of gazetting the area into a national park. The Batwa pygmies of Mgahinga lived along with the wild animals the government evicted them to reduce on poaching and create more space for the animals.
The Batwa left Mgahinga national park but decided to settle at the outskirts of the national park where tourists can always find them after major activities in the park like mountain gorilla trekking, bird watching, and golden monkey trekking among others. Batwa pygmies in Mgahinga are very short people, friendly and welcoming. A guide from the local community takes tourists to different homes where locals carry out activities like coffee making, winemaking, and traditional activities among others.
Best time to visit Mgahinga national park
Mgahinga national park can be visited at any time of the year however certain months are better than the rest. The dry season months that occur from June to September and December to February are the best times one needs to visit Mgahinga national park. During this period, there is little or no rainfall received, the trekking trails are dry and easier to navigate, vegetation is short with good views of wildlife, and roads leading to the park are in good condition.
Travelers most especially who love discounted things and those that get time in the rainy season can visit the park as it’s always open all throughout the year. The rainy season happens from March to May and again from October to November and those that visit the park do get discounted tour packages as well as accommodation facilities. The rainy season is not the best time to visit the park because it has a lot of rainfall which makes trekking trails and roads leading to the park slippery, and the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of wildlife.
Accessing Mgahinga Gorilla park
Travelers can get to Mgahinga national park by using either road transport or air transport.
Accessing Mgahinga Gorilla park by air transport, travelers who want to travel a luxury style or those that want to access the park quickly can fly from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe international airport to Kisoro airstrip. These flights are organized by different airline companies among which include Bar Aviation Uganda and Aerolink Uganda.
Accessing Mgahinga Gorilla park by road transport: Tourists that are okay with traveling for long distances and those that can’t afford air transport can use road transport to get to Mgahinga national park. It takes 9 to 10 hours to get to Mgahinga national park from Kampala/Entebbe by going through Masaka, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabale, and Kisoro to the park.