Mgahinga National Park is not your typical tropical rain forest just like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park but is a combination of bamboo and other mountainous vegetation. Planning a safari to Mgahinga National Park requires one to do lots of research about what to see, where to stay, and how to get there. There is a lot of information online but we try to give you updated and useful information to rely on why planning a safari to Mgahinga National Park.
Mgahinga National Park as a safari destination
Mgahinga National Park is located in southeastern Uganda district of Kisoro. It lies in the Virunga ranges shared by the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga National Park is the smallest of the four National Parks that have mountain gorillas in the whole world. If planning a safari tour to Mgahinga, be aware that you will no choice but to book gorilla permits for Nyakagezi family which is the only resident gorilla family in this small park.
Why visit or safari in Mgahinga National Park, what to see and do
Small as it is, Mgahinga National Park has a lot to see when it comes to activities in and around the park. The leading safari tour activity is gorilla trekking. Mgahinga is home to one habituated group of mountain gorillas called Nyakagezi. This lonely gorilla group is sometimes joined by other mountain gorillas from Rwanda or Democratic republic of congo who spend little time and then go back. Nyakagezi gorilla family has 14 members and those who have trekked it highly recommend it.
Booking Mgahinga Gorilla Permit to visit Nyakagezi group
Mgahinga gorilla permits just like Bwindi gorilla permits are handled by Uganda Wildlife Authority. To trek Mgahinga gorillas, you need a gorilla permit or pass issued by UWA to spend one hour with the Nyakagezi family. Encounter Africa safaris check availability of Mgahinga gorilla permits and if need be can reserve them for up to 7 days as we wait on you to make payment. We do accept both bank transfers and credit card payments. Mgaghinga gorilla permits are to cost $800 for Foreign non-residents, $700 for Foreign residents and Uganda Shillings 300,000 for East Africa citizens of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Southern Sudan.
Once there is availability, we will invoice you to enable you to make payment so as to buy your gorilla permits. Space to see gorillas in Mgahinga National Park is only guaranteed when permits are booked and paid for at Uganda Wildlife Authority. If you book an all-inclusive gorilla tour to Maghinga National Park with Encounter Africa safaris, we will take care of your gorilla permit and all tour services. To prove to you that we have bought and secured your gorilla permit, we normally send you scanned copies of UWA permits for your records and perusal.
Nyakangezi being the only mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga National Park, only 8 gorilla permits are available for tourists to spend one hour with mountain gorillas in this park. Those interested in trekking mgahinga gorillas should contact Encounter Africa safaris in advance (3-4 months) so that we book your permits before they run out of stock.
Golden Monkey trekking
Another unique activity that can be considered while planning a safari to Mgahinga National Park is Golden monkey trekking or golden monkey habituation experience. In Uganda, its only in Mgahinga National Park that one can find golden monkeys. There two sessions allowing people to visit golden monkeys in this small national park. You can choose to do golden monkey trekking in the morning or the afternoon. Those interested in spending more time with golden monkeys under habituation should opt for golden monkey habituation experience. Golden monkey trekking and habituation has no minimum numbers and permits can be booked on the ground anytime any day.
Batwa experience and culture walk in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is one of the parks in Uganda which was formerly inhabited by the Pygmies popularly known as the Batwa. These short creatures were moved out of the forest when mgahinga was declared a national park. Since then, the Batwa have since settled and are living a normal life outside the park. Batwa cultural experience is a journey in the day to day life and activities that were done by these pygmies while still in the park. Daily walks are organized and guided by the still-living members of the Batwa. They show you where they used to stay (Garamba cave), how they used to utilize park resources for survival and at the end of it all they will dance for you. Encounter Africa safaris can combine gorilla trekking, golden monkeys and Batwa experience to assemble a lifetime experience.
Volcano hiking in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is blessed with three volcanic mountains of Mgahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura. These three make up the so many volcanic mountains popularly known as the virunga ranges. The virunga ranges are shared between three countries of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. While in Mgahinga, you can choose to spend one or two days to hike one of the above mentioned volcano and Encounter Africa safaris assists in arranging such treks and hikes.
How to get to Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park can be accessed by road as well as air. If driving from Kampala/Entebbe International Airport, the drive takes from 8 to 10 hours to reach the park. The journey will give you an opportunity to stop at the equator crossing for photos and breakfast, you will proceed to Mbarara town with chances of meeting the Hima grazing their Ankole Long-horned cattle. Lunches are normally served in Mbarara town before proceeding to Mgahinga National Park arriving late in the evening.
It is also possible to access Mgahinga from Kigali Rwanda. One can fly into Kigali International Airport and drive to Mgahinga National Park via Chanika border. The drive from Kigali International Airport to Chanika border is about 2-3 hours drive followed by a one hour drive to Mgahinga National Park.
Those interested in flying to Mgahinga National Park, both Scheduled and charter flights are available from Entebbe International Airport or Kajansi Airstrip to Kisoro Airstrip. Encounter Africa safaris organizes internal flights to all those interested in visiting or planning a safari to Mgahinga National Park.
Where to stay on safari to Mgahinga National Park
They’re not so many options to stay or available for those planning safari to Mgahinga National Park. The only credible Lodge is Volcanoes Gahinga Lodge and Kisoro Travellers Rest Inn. You can also stay at Kyahafi Lodge and some other small Lodges in Kisoro town. Depending on your budget, Encounter Africa Safaris will advise the best option for your safari.
Choosing a Tour Operator to assist you in organizing Safari to Mgahinga
Having established what you want to see on your safari tour to Mgahinga National Park, you have to select a Tour company that will assist in organizing all this. The best way to select a credible tour operator is to go online and do some research. Any tour operator to be trusted should be registered by Uganda Tourism Board, Should be a member of AUTO (Association of Uganda Tour Operators), and have many years in operation. A look at Trip advisor reviews and safari bookings should give you a true picture about the level of service and customer appreciation. Encounter Africa safaris fits the above and works closely with Uganda Wildlife Authority to arrange a memorable Safari tour to Mgahinga National Park and other places in Uganda. Feel free to contact us.