What is Mgahinga national park famous for?
What is Mgahinga national park famous for?: Mgahinga national park is the smallest national park in the country in the western part of Uganda. The national park as small as it is more famous than most of the national parks within the country. Mgahinga national park is known as a place where gold meets silver meaning a place of mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.
Mgahinga national park was gazetted in 1993 to protect the natural forest as well as the mountain gorillas that were getting to extinction. To consider the question of “What is Mgahinga national park famous for” one has to look at mountain gorillas first and then golden monkeys. Mountain gorillas and golden monkeys are two species of primates are endangered and found in a few places in the world.
What is Mgahinga national park famous for?
Mountain gorillas are not found everywhere in the world in fact they are found in only three countries in four national parks. Mountain gorillas are seen in volcanoes national park Rwanda, Virunga national park DR Congo and Uganda is lucky to have these apes in two national parks named Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Mgahinga national park is famous for being home to endangered mountain gorillas that are not easily found in most places in the world. Mgahinga national park protects over 90 species of mountain gorillas and there is so far only one mountain gorilla family habituated in the park. Nyakagezi gorilla family is the only mountain gorilla family found in Mgahinga national park and it’s open for tourism at all times of the year.
To trek Nyakagezi gorilla family of Mgahinga national park, you need a gorilla trekking permit which is sold to persons above the age of 15 years at Uganda Wildlife Authority. The gorilla trekking permit costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 citizens of east African member states.
With your gorilla trekking permit from Uganda wildlife authority, on the day of gorilla trekking you will move to the briefing center at Ntebeko and show it to the rangers in order to be allowed for briefing. The activity starts with a briefing to teach tourists the rules and regulations of the activity which help to protect the mountain gorillas and the people.
A maximum of 8 people does trek Nyakagezi gorilla family in Mgahinga national park and that is a rule set up by Uganda Wildlife Authority. These trekkers are led by armed ranger guides who have firearms into the jungle where they go through different trails looking for where the mountain gorillas could be.
The search for mountain gorillas goes for 2-7 hours in Mgahinga national park and the time taken depends on the location of the mountain gorillas and the speed of trekkers. The search for mountain gorillas comes with opportunities for meeting different mammals, primates, birds, and plants among others.
The moment the Nyakagezi gorilla family is found, trekkers are given 1 hour to be around the members and this enables them to learn about their habits, take photos, record videos, and watch members do daily activities like nesting, coupling, playing, hunting, grooming, and resting among others. After trekking, the gorilla trekking certificates are picked up at Ntebeko which is the briefing point of the park.
Mgahinga is known to be the only place where golden monkeys are found. In the whole of Uganda, travelers that want to encounter golden monkeys must visit only one place and this is Mgahinga national park. Golden monkeys are some of the 20 primate species in Uganda only see in Mgahinga national park. Golden monkeys in East Africa are found in Virunga Conservation Area which has Mgahinga national park, Virunga national park, and Volcanoes national park.
To go encounter and golden monkeys of Mgahinga national park, you do need a golden monkey trekking permit coming from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The golden monkey trekking permit costs $60 for foreign non-residents, $50 for foreign residents, and UGX40,000 citizens of East African member states.
Mgahinga national park has also got the option of golden monkey habituation where trekkers spend more time with these primates making them get used to the human presence around them. To habituate the golden monkeys of Mgahinga national park, you need a habituation permit that goes for $100 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents while members of East African states need UGX100,000.
The golden monkey trekking or habituation permit is required at Ntebeko briefing point to prove that you qualify to trek these primates. The activity starts with a briefing and armed ranger guides lead tourists into the jungle where they start searching for where these monkeys could be.
Armed ranger guides search areas with bamboo trees because that is the food most liked by these primates. The search for golden monkeys takes 2-3 hours and on meeting them you get to see how they do their daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits. Locating the golden monkeys takes a few hours simply because they live on the low areas of the mountains.
The Batwa people
Mgahinga national park was at the beginning occupied by the Batwa people who lived along with the animals in the jungle. When the government was gazetting the area as a national park, these people were evicted to reduce on the poaching and they decided to settle at the boundaries of the park.
Tourists that love culture will always ask about the Batwa people when they have a safari in Mgahinga national park. Visiting the Batwa people is done at a fee which is used to improve on the community project to help the locals live a good life. Visiting the Batwa of Mgahinga national park costs $80 for foreign non-residents, $70 for foreign residents, and UGX50,000 members of East African states.
The Batwa people are still on the outskirts of Mgahinga national park and they add cultural experience to the guests apart from seeing wildlife. The Batwa are great dancers who have entertainment groups to perform dance and drama for the guests. They have medicine men who still use plants and bones from dead animals to cure diseases. Visiting the Batwa people after primate tracking widens your experience about Africa.