By Jonathan Benaiah (The Ugandan Tourist)
Located 510km far southwest of Kampala City (Uganda’s capital), in the district of Kisoro rests Uganda’s smallest but profoundly biome-diverse National Park. Mgahinga is one of two Uganda Gorilla Safaris destinations where tourists can physically say Jambo (hello) to the world’s remaining population of endangered Mountain Gorillas.
Its three (3) volcanic peaks of Sabinyo (3,669m), Gahinga (3,474m) and Muhavura (4,127m) link with five (5) other volcanoes which all together form the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) shared among the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo DR. Its varied altitudes give rise to different species of flora and fauna, some of which cannot be seen anywhere else in Uganda.
The park offers opportunities to birders to do what they love best, with a bird list ranging between 179 and 184 species including the Rwenzori Turaco and the White-starred Robin. Safaris and Tours to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park also present opportunities to meet a number of uncommonly seen species like the giant forest hogs, and the spikey South African Porcupines
But the park’s horn is sounded louder by its only habituated mountain gorilla family called Nyakagezi. Led by an alpha silverback called Mark, who personally loves to travel, the Nyakagezi mountain gorilla family makes seasonal excursions to the neighboring countries of Congo DR and Rwanda. But fortunately, of recent, the family seems to enjoy their Ugandan home more and can therefore support successful Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda. Its unsettled nature has forced the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to sell gorilla permits for this mountain gorilla family right at the National Park.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park is a less tedious process if compared to its sister National Park, Bwindi. Like in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a maximum of eight (8) tourists are permitted to visit this gorilla family per day. And once the treasure hunt is done tourists can enjoy a full hour with the Nyakagezi family. The family’s two blackbacks (Rukundo and Ndungutse) often win the hearts of visitors with their high sense of humor and their photogenic nature. It has become their thing to pose for the camera and they’ll probably pose for yours as well.
Today the family has 10 members including an aging Bugiingo who is the father to most members of this mountain gorilla family including Mark and Marfia the other two silverbacks.
Embark on a Safari to trek Mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga National Park and you will win yourself an experience of a lifetime decorated in awesome views of the true African montane forests sheltering an abundant number of mammalian and bird species; not forgetting the bonus of intermingling with the legendary Batwa community; one of the world’s few remaining highly disregarded and marginalized groups of people. With the Park’s “gold and silver”, you will depart highly illuminated; nice and shiny. Welcome to Mgahinga!