Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest in the country with 33.7 square kilometers   it is one of the only two National Parks in Uganda that offer habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas.

Situated in kisoro district, southwestern Uganda, this park was gazetted in 1991 and is part of the virunga conservation area, which is 434km. It adjoins Rwanda’s volcano and the DRC virunga National parks. Mgahinga gorilla National park experiences two wet rainy seasons; February-May and September – December of each year. The maximum amount of rainfall in a year is 250mm (October) and minimum is 10mm (July)

The local People
Kisoro district is heavily populated with331people /square kilometers. The major ethnic groups are the Bafumbira who live in a substance way of life and the Batwa.

THE BATWA

The Batwa people lived in dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes. These where hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who based on the forest for shelter, food and medicine later the ancient knowledge passed down for generations. They also believed them selves as the first people with a good reason. The Batwa tribe’s is one of the Central Africas’s ancient pygmy

When Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established, the Batwa, a group of indigenous people, were suddenly removed out of the forest and forced to abandon their low-impact, nomadic lifestyle and there landless who act as workers for the local farmers.  The only time they are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on the Batwa Trail.  A visit to the Batwa trail permits visitors to discover the magic of the indigenous people old home while part taking in nature walks and learning about the group’s cultural heritage.

During this moving cultural encounter tour, the Batwa demonstrate hunting techniques; gather honey; point out medicinal plants and demonstrate bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King, where the women of the community perform a sorrowful song which echoes eerily around the depths of the dark cave, and leaves guests with a striking and moving sense of the richness of this fading culture.  This is truly a unique experience for visitors to learn about the traditional culture of the indigenous people. of the Batwa

Highlights

  • Switch off your flashlight in the Ngarama Cave, as ghostly singing begins to echo in the pitch darkness
  • Making fire requires team work! Watch your Batwa guides create fire to smoke out bees
  • See a traditional Batwa grass hut – quick to build and to demolish which was essential for this nomadic culture
  • Enjoy the lively dance at the cave’s entrance as the Batwa women sing a traditional song to welcome their guests
  • Walk through the pristine Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes

Ecosystem and wildlife
Being a mountainous area, the park experiences a form of montane vegetation and a cool climate. The abundant types of vegetation is the bamboo (60%), which is a delicacy to the mountain gorillas, other types of flora include the Lobelia, Haegenia sop etc.

The park contains at least 39 species of mammals and 79 species of birds. Animals found in the park include the mountain gorilla, buffalo, elephants, bushbucks, the threatened golden monkeys and many others.

Examples of bird species include Ruwenzori Turaco, fiscal shrike, crowned hornbill, black kite, and Augur buzzards, crowned crane.

Activities
Gorilla tracking/trekking

This is the most exciting and unforgettable experience, which might take one through a thick jungle.

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family located in Mgahinga National Park which had crossed to Rwanda last year is back in South Western Uganda. All nine members are back and in a healthy condition. Nyakagezi Gorilla Group is the only resident habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, located about 10 km from Kisoro.

This group keeps on migrating between Congo DR, Rwanda and Uganda, migrate across international borders, mainly in search of “greener pastures” (patches with more food) cross the three countries, such movements have drawn interest of the different countries especially when it becomes of Gorilla habituated to tourism. The collaborative monitoring of and sharing revenues from Tran frontier tourism Gorilla Groups”. Such cases have been happening:

Nyakagezi group of gorillas has 10 members. The family includes the lead silverback Bugingo who is around 50 years old and father to most of the group; his silverback sons, Mark and Marfia; and two blackbacks, Rukundo and Ndungutse, who love to pose and play in the trees. The two females, Nshuti and Nyiramwiza, both have babies Furraha and Nkanda respectively. Although gorilla tracking in Mgainga Gorilla National Park can take an entire day it is generally less physically demanding than that at Bwindi National Park.

Gorilla rules.

The following rules apply and must be strictly followed
• No one with a communicable disease e.g. flu, diarrhea is allowed to visit the gorillas.
• Do not surround the gorillas but remain in the tight group.
•Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas .If they approach you, move back slowly.

Flash photography is strictly forbidden
• Don’t eat or smoke when with the gorillas or within distance of 200 meters from the gorillas.
• If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth in the process
• Bury all human fasces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterwards.
• All litter must be must be removed from the park for disposal.
• No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
• Don’t spit on vegetation or soil while in the park.

When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements.

  • Contact time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.
    • Please observe all instructions from your guide

Mt. Sabyinyo (3669m) “Old man’s teeth”
Like an old man time has eroded Mt. Sabyinyo’s crown.It consists of three challenging peaks to climb to climb.To climb up the mountain takes one up a ridge along the eastern side of the climb peak 1.Climbing to peak 11 involves walking as ridge with breath- taking drops into gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Finally, the hike up to the peak 11 is steep with several ladders and mush scrambling. You are guaranteed to get your hands dirty en-route to peak 11. Once on top, you will be in Rwanda, DRC and Uganda at the same time. It takes about 8hours round to cover the 14km stretch.

Mt. Gahinga (3474m) ´Small pile of stones’
On your way to the park, look out for small pile of stones in the garden fields. Mountain Gahinga is quite bigger than the average ‘gahinga’ which is next to mountain Muhavura. A hike takes about 6 hours round trip through the bamboo forest. Gahinga had a crater lake on top but time has changed it into a lush swamp. It takes 8 kilometers to reach to the swamp.

Mt Muhavura (4127) ‘the guide’
Mountain Muhavura can be Seen from all over Kisoro, it’s volcano is capped by a small but pretty crater lakes which acts as a guide. Its cone-shaped mountain improves the chances of clear view. Much of the climb passes a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs, Hikers are rewarded with the view of the other virunga volcanoes once at the top. The hike takes 8 hours round trip covering 12km.

ACCOMODATION

Mgahiga Safari Lodge

Mgahiga Safari Lodge is in picturesque mountain area situated in three-country-corner of Uganda-Rwanda and Congo

All the tents are twin bedded with the usual amenities and superb en-suite toilet facilities. The canvas walls, elevated platforms and thatched roofs blend well with the environment. With 6 tented chalets and a main lodge building Mgahinga Safari Lodge offers peace, quiet and comfort in beautiful surroundings with panoramic views of Lake Mutanda and the nearby Virunga Mountain

Travellers Hotel

It’s located in the heart of old town Salinas, the Traveler’s Hotel is one of the shortest block from the National Steinbeck Center and three blocks to its birth place and boyhood home and many cool attractions are just near away from the Traveler’s Hotel. Come and stay at our historic hotel and experience a wonderful time in Steinbeck County!
A drive to the attractions in Gilroy, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Carmel, Salinas is known as the cross roads of California.. Undiscovered gems such as the Artichoke Capital of the World, Castroville, and Moss landing where a stop at Phil’s Fish Market is the local’s choice, are must sees.rld-class wine tasting, the beaches of Monterey Bay, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Mazda Raceway, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Kayaking, as well as great hiking and golf are close by and open year-round.

Sky Blue Hotel

Sky blue hotel is located in Kabale, it has 19 rooms offering budget accommodation with warm and friendly service – the hotel is impeccably clean and serves a range of tasty local meals in the restaurant.

It is an ideal base from which to visit the nearby Mgahinga National Park, which is Uganda’s smallest National park, covering just 38 square kilometres and one of the only two locations that of Bwindi and Mgahinnga where the endangered mountain gorilla can crtically be seen. The Sky Blue Hotel is associated with the Kisoro Tourist Hotel Group

Kisoro Tourist Hotel.

Kisoro tourist hotel gives a wonderful view of the Virunga volcanoes enjoying a stunning view of these mountains which border Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.

Facilities.

All the rooms are self-contained with DSTV.

Enjoy the comfortable atmosphere of the lounge and warm yourself in the chill of a Kisoro evening by an open fireplace.

Massage services, a sauna and a steam bath for those with weary legs on returning from Gorilla tracking or volcano trekking activities are also offered

Conference Facility
The hotel has two conference rooms capable of hosting 50 and 100 persons.

Kisoro Travellers Rest

Kisoro Travellers Rest is a place to compliment your gorilla experience or provide you the homely comfort for your exploration of this astonishingly beautiful volcanic area. The lodge offers a welcoming atmosphere; quality accommodation .It consists of 11 En-suite rooms which are decorated with a unique selection of African art. The spacious rooms overlook a well-groomed courtyard which has the magical Virunga Volcanoes as a backdrop.

The beautiful surrounding garden is the home of many birds. Sitting on the terrace you can smell the sweetish perfume of the honeysuckle and in the evenings, when it gets cooler, visitors can warm themselves at the fireplace, outside or in the lounge.

From the hotel there are a lot of activities for visitors to undertake. Traveler’s Rest provides bikes to discover the nearby surroundings; you may visit the nearby Lake Mutanda; walk to the local market in Kisoro on Mondays and Thursdays; or you can climb one of the volcanoes. You can even go and track the majestic mountain gorilla. The Mgahinga National Park is only 14 kilometres away

Cave exploration
Garama cave

it’s one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were warriors) lived and fought their neighbors the Bantu. The distance to the cave entrance from the park headquarters is 3kilometres and takes about 4hours.The cave is 342m in length and 14m deep, and it is now inhabited only by bats.

BIRDING

Birding along the northern edge of the park which starts from 5- 6p.m. A stroll along the buffalo wall towards Congo takes you through a wetland area where Ibis, Whydah, Speckled, mouse bird, and fire finch are found. Stonechart, grey-capped warbler, waxbills and yellow-vented bulbul are always seen around the campground.Remember to take with you as binocular.

 

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