Safari vacations and travel services’ 3 Days Mgahinga Gorilla Tour takes you to Uganda’s smallest but spectacular national park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of Uganda’s two places where one can spot the endangered mountain gorillas. The park covers an area of 38 square kilometers and sits on the slopes of three giant volcanoes. It is less visited and less known when compared to Bwindi Impenetrable forest or Virunga and the Volcanoes National Park. This gives it an advantage in that the Wardens and rangers will treat you with greater attention as only 8 people come for the briefing and see the one gorilla group in a day. This is different from the 3 Days Bwindi Gorilla tour where rangers can sometimes get overwhelmed with too many tourists visiting the various gorilla families.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only place where (silver meets gold) meaning that visitors can spot both golden monkeys and mountain gorillas in Uganda. It stands out from Bwindi because of its three volcanoes – Gahinga, Sabinyo and Muhabura. Most sections of the volcanoes are in Mgahinga but a small part stretches all the way to Rwanda and Congo. The summit of one of the volcanoes lies at a point where the borders of the three countries meet. It is therefore possible to be in 3 countries in a space of one minute.
The presence of these volcanoes is brings about the spectacular views, landscape and creatures that cannot be found in Bwindi. Mgahinga national park is home to bush pigs, bushbucks, duikers, buffaloes, forest elephants, jackals and leopards. The recorded bird species are over 180 and include the blue headed coucal, double collard sunbirds, ibis, paradise fly catchers, Rwenzori bats, Rwenzori night jar, Rwenzori Turaco, Speckled mouse bird, Stone chat, black kite, wax bills and the white-napped raven.
Despite the rich biodiversity in the park, Mgahinga is more known for its golden monkeys and Mountain gorillas. Mgahinga has one gorilla group but with the most Silverbacks in Uganda. The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga offers a much more interesting and quality cultural encounter than any offered in Bwindi Impenetrable forest. In Mgahinga, it is not just about cultural entertainments. Tourists go out into the forest with the Batwa themselves as Guides to learn about their ancient traditions, caves, traditional homes, medicines and hunting methods.
Our 3 Days Gorilla tour in Mgahinga is designed for those who want an easier gorilla family or want to combine it with golden monkey trekking in Uganda. The trip starts from Kampala or Entebbe but can be arranged to start from Kigali in Rwanda to reduce on the driving time.
Day 1: Pickup from Entebbe or Kampala – Transfer to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Our Guide/Driver will pick you up from your hotel in Kampala or Entebbe to start the journey to Mgahinga. He will brief you about the trip and the itinerary. This is the time to ask the Guide questions about the safari and what to expect. If there is anything you left out, he can take you to a good shop to acquire them either in Entebbe or Kampala.
The journey to Mgahinga will be long but with amazing scenery all the way. Be ready to admire the beautiful landscape and physical features in Southwestern Uganda. You will bypass rolling hills, mountains, national parks and local people doing business along the roadside. Look out for the long horned Ankole cattle grazing close to the roadside as you approach Mbarara. You will have a stop to see how large traditional drums are made at the Mpambire royal drum makers. You will then proceed and stop at the equator crossing for photos and relaxation. The equator separates the earth’s southern hemisphere from the north. You can spread your legs and be in two hemispheres at the same time. After spending time at the Equator, you will proceed to Mbarara town for lunch. And thereafter, the journey continues up to Kisoro district.
Dinner and Overnight at Kisoro Travelers Rest Hotel (Mid-range) and Mount Gahinga Lodge (Luxury).
Day 2: Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park – Batwa Trail
You will wake and have breakfast very early as you wait for the driver to take you to the park headquarters for the briefing by park warden or rangers. The briefing covers many issues including details about the gorilla groups in Mgahinga, what to expect, what you need to have and how to act while with the gorillas. For the best gorilla trekking experience, you need sturdy boots, bottled water and packed energy snacks just in case the hike takes longer than expected. While at the Ntebeko Centre for Visitors, you will be required to present your passports to ensure that you are over 13 years of age an illegible for the activity. Mgahinga National Park has only one habituated gorilla group. The only gorilla group in Mgahinga is the Nyakagyezi group. The group used to migrate a lot to Rwanda and even Congo but is now permanently stationed in Uganda.
As you begin the search for the gorillas, expect to see birds and smaller primates along the way. You will pass through thick bamboo forests in areas of higher altitude than normal. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga involves a lot of physical activity depending on the location of a gorilla group but you will be consoled by breathtaking views of the Virunga Volcanoes and pristine African forest. You might even get tired but will soon forget once you encounter the massive Silverback. Mountain gorillas are peaceful and dramatic primates. You will notice everyone member of the group busy on something or simply resting. The mothers will be breastfeeding or taking care of the youngsters. The juveniles are very playful and tend to climb trees more often. The Silverback is very observant and always on the lookout for any danger to the family – keep a distance of at least 6 meters. You are only allowed one hour with the gorillas. Take that time to take good photos for your memory while not forgetting to observe the groups behavior.
It is difficult to predict the time you will be out in the forest looking for the gorillas. If you are lucky to find them early, you will be taken back to the park offices for the Gorilla trekking certificate of completion. The Driver will take you back to the hotel for lunch and refreshment before going for a cultural encounter with one of the local tribes if you came back early enough. You can also choose to go for a nature walk and see some of the crater lakes in the area. Lake Mutanda is an amazing lake to visit.
Dinner and Overnight at Kisoro Travelers Rest Hotel (Mid-range) and Mount Gahinga Lodge (Luxury).
Day 3: Transfer back to Kampala or Entebbe
Wake up at your leisure and take your breakfast as you wait for the Guide/Driver to pick you up to start the journey back to Entebbe. This will be a long journey but the beautiful grass plains, hills, mountains, valleys and general panoramic views of western Uganda is enough to keep you engaged. Then there are the local people going about their business by the roadside or in their gardens. There will be stops to the equator and Igongo Cultural Centre in case you didn’t have the chance to visit them on day 1. You should reach Kampala by 6pm in time for your flight back home or to your hotel in Entebbe.
What you need to know.
You can book this tour as an individual or as a group. It is important to book a gorilla safari early enough so that the permits can be acquired in time. Gorilla trekking is extremely popular and permits can be impossible to find during the peak months like June or July. Should it occur that the gorilla permits are not available, don’t despair. Mountain Gorilla trekking can be done in Bwindi, the volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo. It is also important that you can combine gorilla trekking in Mgahinga with hiking one the volcanoes or tracking golden monkeys
Driving from Entebbe to Mgahinga National park takes about 8 hours. If this is too much for you, we recommend that you take a flight from Kajjansi or Entebbe to Kisoro airstrip. Aero link organizes daily flights to and from Entebbe or Kajjansi. Alternatively, you can arrive from Kigali in Rwanda which requires 4 hours of driving.
What to pack for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga
Kisoro Travelers Rest Hotel:
This is one of Uganda’s oldest hotels and with an impressive list of former guests. Dian Fossey herself called it her second home. Dian Fossey would come to the hotel for meetings with people and also to do her paperwork. Some of the greatest primatologists would come here before visiting the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. Kisoro Travelers Hotel is built outside Kisoro 3 Days Gorilla tour to Mgahinga National Park with spectacular views of the Volcanoes in Mgahinga National Park. The Hotel was built in colonial style but was renovated in 1999 giving it a more modern feel.
The hotel has 12 self-contained rooms with well-manicured gardens full of singing birds. Each room has a balcony where one can sit and relax. A fireplace is set up in the evening for guests to warm up during the cold months and share their experiences visiting Mgahinga and other game parks in Uganda. Travelers Hotel is perfect for those who have come to hike one of the volcanoes or do gorilla trekking in Mgahinga but need a quality hotel that is not overly priced. The hotel hires out bikes to use for exploring the nearby communities, markets and the beautiful Lake Mutanda.
Mount Gahinga Lodge:
This luxury lodge is built on the slopes of the three Volcanoes in the park and close to the park entrance. Mount Gahinga Lodge is close to the borders of three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. One can therefore visit all the three countries in a short space of time or by climbing to the top of one of the volcanoes. The view of the volcanoes from the lodge is simply awesome.
Lodge has been built with stones and some of the finest local furniture. The facility has 6 cottages that are all self-contained, spacious and with large beds. All the rooms have hot showers and a balcony overlooking the beautiful Lake Mutanda. A special attendant staff is assigned to each cottage to ensure that residents are as comfortable as possible. As the best luxury hotel, the quality of service is the best anywhere near the park. Every Client is treated with professionalism, great care, attention and a warm smile. Food is excellent and prepared by an experienced chef. While residing in the hotel, visitor can choose to go for nature walks, birding, golden monkey tracking or hiking one of the three Volcanoes in the park.
Safari vacations and travel services assists clients by providing guidance and the organization of services like transport, accommodation and acquiring the gorilla permits in advance on the clients’ behalf to avoid inconveniences after landing for the activities.