Mgahinga gorilla trekking and boat cruise
Mgahinga gorilla trekking and boat cruise: This safari takes you to Mgahinga national park for gorilla trekking and Lake Bunyonyi for a boat cruise. Both of these areas are found in the southwestern part of the country in Kisoro and Kabale districts. Mgahinga national park is a famous area for gorilla trekking while Lake Bunyonyi is famous for being the second deepest lake in Africa
Tourists interested in this safari will go gorilla trekking in Mgahinga where they will encounter the apes for a maximum of 1 hour and they will also go to Lake Bunyonyi where they will have a boat cruise, explore some of the 29 islands while enjoying good views of the surrounding attractions.
Mgahinga gorilla trekking and boat cruise
The main activities on this safari
Mountain gorilla trekking is the main highlight of the safari where tourists make their dream come true. Gorilla trekking is a once in a lifetime adventure and on a safari like this, tourists will have made their dream come true. Mgahinga national park is one of the 4 national parks where mountain gorilla trekking is carried out. The national park has 1 Nyakagezi mountain gorilla family trekked by a maximum of 8 people a day.
Mountain gorilla trekking on this tour does start early in the morning so tourists must wake up so early for breakfast and later drive to Ntebeko Visitors Centre where briefing is done. The briefing helps trekkers of the day learn about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity while inside the jungle. A ranger guide does lead trekkers into the jungle where they start searching for where the mountain gorillas could be.
The search for mountain gorillas in the jungle does take 2 to 7 hours depending on the location of Nyakagezi mountain gorilla family as well as the speed of trekkers. The armed ranger guides use different trails to look for where the mountain gorilla could be. The visit different trees and areas where these mountain gorillas normally hang.
When the mountain gorilla family is spotted, trekkers do get 1 hour to be around the apes which helps them to learn a few things about their behaviors, take photos and watch the members do daily activities like nesting, hunting, coupling, grooming, eating, breastfeeding and nesting among others. Later after seeing mountain gorillas, the trekkers leave apes to carry out daily activities and they trek out of the jungle to Ntebeko where they pick their gorilla trekking certificates.
The boat cruise is another min activity on this safari and it’s done on Lake Bunyonyi. Lake Bunyonyi is located not so far from Mgahinga national park as it takes a few hours to get there. The boat cruise is done at Lake Bunyonyi after the gorilla trekking for tourists to refresh their minds. The boat cruise helps tourists to explore the whole lake while enjoying the cool breeze and seeing different attractions.
A boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi is carried out in the morning or evening and it takes 2 to 3 hours. The boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi goes through different islands which are about 29 of them and tourists be seeing the surrounding areas which are plantations and homesteads. Imagining having a boat cruise on the second deepest lake in Africa I guess it would be a great experience.
During the boat ride on Lake Bunyonyi, tourists will be able to explore so many of the islands among which include Akampene where girls that got pregnant before getting married were dumped and left to die of hunger. Other islands to see on Lake Bunyonyi include Kahungye island, Bwamba island, Bushara island, and Bacuranka island among others.
Lake Bunyonyi is known as a home of little birds therefore bird lovers on a boat cruise can use a pair of binoculars to see as many bird species as they can. Bird watching on a boat cruise in Mgahinga national park will give you an opportunity to see bird species such as levillant cuckoo, Hadada ibis, white-tailed monad, grey crowned cranes, slender-billed baglafetch, Bronzy sunbird, grey shrike, African harrier hawk, cardinal woodpecker, grey crowned cranes, African kingfisher, golden-backed weaver, pin tailed whydah, malachite kingfisher, and fan-tailed widow bird among other birds.
Where to stay
On a safari in Mgahinga national park, you have a lot of accommodation places where you can stay, and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury. The lodges to use if you want to spend a night or more in Mgahinga national park include Mgahinga Gorilla Triangle Lodge, Mgahinga Safari Lodge, Mountain Gahinga Rest Camp, Tiloreza Volcanoes Lodge, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mutanda Safari Lodge, and Musasa Mountain Triangle Lodge among others.
Tourists that would want to stay a night or more in Lake Bunyonyi have also got so many accommodation facilities where they can stay. The lodges in Lake Bunyonyi include Bunyonyi Rock Resort, Birdnest Resort, Hawk’s Eye Lodge Bunyonyi, Crater Bay Cottages and Camp, Arcadia Cottages Bunyonyi and Bunyonyi Safari Resort among others.
When to have a safari to Mgahinga national park and a boat cruise
Tourists can visit Mgahinga national park for gorilla trekking and later Lake Bunyonyi at any time of the year however certain months are better than the rest. The dry season from June to September and December to February are the best for this safari because they are characterized by little and sometimes no rainfall.
During the dry season, the trekking trails in the park are very dry and easier to navigate, the vegetation is short and scattered with good views of wildlife, and the roads leading to the park more so those marram roads off the main routes are dry and easier to drive through.
Tourists especially budget travelers can visit Mgahinga national park during the rainy season to benefit from discounted accommodation facilities and tour packages. Tourists coming during the rainy season need to know that rainfall is too much and it makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of wildlife, and roads leading to the park are impassable.
Accessing Mgahinga Gorilla park and Lake Bunyonyi
Tourists that have a safari to Mgahinga national park and Lake Bunyonyi can access the areas in just a single day. It takes 9 to 10 hours to get to Mgahinga national park or Lake Bunyonyi using road transport from Kampala/Entebbe via Masaka, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabale and Kisoro to the park.
By air transport, it takes less than 3 hours to access all these areas. There are daily morning flights to Kisoro airstrip taking 1 hour and 25 minutes from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip. From Kisoro airstrip to Mgahinga national park or Lake Bunyonyi, tourists are driven in safari cars and getting there takes 1 to 2 hours.