How to trek Mgahinga Mountain gorillas in Uganda
Going for gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park requires you to purchase a gorilla permits first from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mgahinga National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda, hosting about 33.7 square kilometers of land. The park lies on the northern slopes of Mountain Muhabura, Mountain Sabyinyo, and Mountain Gahinga, just a few of the renowned six Virunga Volcanoes. They form a beautiful backdrop for the park.
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The only gorilla family in Mgahinga National Park is called the Nyakagezi family. In the past, this gorilla family used to wander into Rwanda, making it hard to secure gorilla permits for this park in advance. However, of late, this gorilla family is steadily living in Mgahinga national park, and you can pre-book its gorilla permits.
How Can I Book Gorilla Permits For Mgahinga National Park?
Select a date when you wish to do gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park and the number of gorilla permits you want to buy. Remember, Mgahinga national park has only one gorilla family. Therefore, only eight gorilla permits can be sold for every gorilla family.
When you send us an inquiry, our safari consultant checks the availability of Mgahinga National Park gorilla permits per your date from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
If the status of the gorilla permits is positive, we advise our clients to purchase them in advance. This is because they get sold out fast because of the high demand worldwide, yet they have a low supply.
We require you to provide details like your full name as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and expiry date. These are used for record-keeping, and some are applied to your gorilla trekking accomplishment certificate.
How Much Can I Buy A Gorilla Trekking Permit For Mgahinga National Park?
The cost of Mgahinga National Park is:
$700 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents
$600 per person per trek for Foreign residents
150000 shs for East African Residents.
This cost includes
Park fees for the day, security, ranger guide fees, gorilla conservation fund support, one hour of viewing the mountain gorillas
Drinks, tipping, transport, accommodation, and any other items of personal nature.
Can I Purchase A Gorilla Permit For Mgahinga National Park In Instalment?
Yes, the chances of purchasing Mgahinga National Park permits in installments are possible. Uganda Wildlife Authority has a provision of buying the gorilla allows in installments as 30% of the total permit cost and 70 % of the total cost as a top-up.
This is applicable when you purchase the gorilla permit 90 days to the date of trekking (at least six months or one year in advance) but also top up before the 90 days to the date of trekking.
Please top-up, or else you will lose the gorilla permit, and no refund will be given according to the policy of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Is The Gorilla Permit For Mgahinga National Park Refundable?
A refund is possible on gorilla permits for Mgahinga National Park, but this depends on the refund policy of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
What Happens On Gorilla Trekking Briefing day In Mgahinga National Park?
When you gather at Ntebeko Center, your ranger guides and park warden take you through the rules of gorilla trekking and other traits about the gorilla family you are trekking.
The ranger guide escorts a group of a maximum of 8 tourists into the Mgahinga forest. If you need a porter, you can request one before starting the gorilla trek. A porter is a person who helps you carry your belongings in the forest and, at times, gives you a push when tired.
Follow the ranger guide, and put into action the dos and not of gorilla trekking given during trekking. The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekker but does not delay the rest of the group because you need to know the time or location of the mountain gorillas. You take some breaks during gorilla trekking, so carry some snacks to enjoy during these breaks.
When you finally locate the mountain gorillas, the ranger establishes their prevailing condition and advises the trekkers to advance or retreat in case of a terrible fight.
If all is fine, you can take photos and watch how they go about their daily activities. However, no using flash photography during gorilla trekking because these primates are scared of strange occurrences in their environment.
If the gorillas more close, stealthily retreat without causing any suspension because a distance of at least 8 meters is allowed between tourists and the mountain gorillas. This is for conservation reasons to prevent the spreading infectious germs to mountain gorillas.
After an hour with the mountain gorillas, get away from them slowly and calmly to let them go about their daily lives.
When Is the Best Time To Purchase Gorilla Trekking Permits For Mgahinga National Park?
Doing gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park is open all year. However, some prefer the drier season, which is June to September or December to January.
The forest receives lesser humid conditions in the dry season, making the walk to locate the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers quicker. As a result, the gorillas are in good spirits, and the forest life is at its peak too.
This being a peak tourism season, the cost of services is higher because of the high demand from other Uganda safari activities.
Booking gorilla permits for the low season, which is March to May or November, is more convenient for tourists with a limited budget. In addition, service providers may offer discounted prices this season because fewer tourists are received in the country. Therefore, traveling with a limited budget and using premier services is possible.
Finding space to block off other tourists may be possible in the low season for exclusive gorilla trekking time. Going gorilla trekking solo without paying extra to block off other tourists is also likely in the low season.
Is Gorilla Trekking In Mgahinga National Park Difficult?
The topography of the gorilla trekking area is generally volcanic, so expect to hike some ridges and plateaus. The backdrop of Mgahinga National Park is covered by three distinctive mountains creating a beautiful scenery.
During gorilla trekking, you may sometimes find mountain gorillas on the slopes or deep in the valley. No matter where they spend the day, your ranger guide leads you there.
It would help if you had some fitness to locate the mountain gorillas wherever they might be.
If you must bypass thick creepers, the ranger uses a machete to create a path.
You are wearing the right gorilla trekking gear, like comfortable safari boots that can help you navigate the wet surface from logged water from rivers that sometimes overflow.
What Else To Do After Gorilla Trekking In Mgahinga National Park
Birding in Mgahinga National Park
Keen birders on a gorilla trekking safari to Mgahinga National Park have a double opportunity of spotting a wide range of birds. Mgahinga National Park has recorded about 115 bird species so far, but ornithologists say the list is still burgeoning as more birding is happening.
Mgahinga National Park has an excellent habitat where many birds find a home. When you take the Gorge trail, you can spot several birds living in montane forest, regenerating pasture at the lower slopes, and Afro-alpine moorland on the slopes. In addition, you may spot some birds: Rwenzori Turaco, Alpine Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Malachite Sunbird, Dusky Turtle Dove, and others.
Mountaineering on Mgahinga National Park
The three volcanoes forming part of Mgahinga National Park can be hiked daily. These mountains include Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Sabyinyo, and Mountain Muhavura.
You must have an escorting ranger guide before hiking to any of these mountains.
Mountain Sabyinyo, which is 3669 meters high, can be hiked to the top in an 8 hours return trip. Sabyingyo locally means old man’s teeth, and it’s because of the weathered ring on its top that forms stubby peaks. On top, you see Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo border from one pivot.
Mountain Gahinga is 3474 meters high and can be hiked in about 6 hours from the Ntebeko visitor center. Gahinga locally means small piles of stones that used to scatter into local people’s gardens. When you climb, you go through a bamboo forest to a lush swamp at the summit.
Mountain Muhabura is about 4127 meters high, and with a round trip of about 8 hours, you can reach its peak. Muhabura locally means the guide, as the mountain is prominent for its towering cone that acts as a lad mark. As you climb, you enjoy great alpine vegetation views, the rift valley, Lake Edward, the Rwenzori ranges, and much more.
Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga National Park
Golden monkeys are some of the most endangered primates in the world, with unique body structures. They are fascinating to follow. Even if they are habituated, the golden monkeys still show their natural life.
They have golden brown hairs on their body and love swinging from one tree to another, keeping the forest lively.
You must obtain a golden monkey trekking permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority to be allowed to do this.
Batwa Trail And Garama Cave
The local community conducts a walk where a Mutwa guide takes tourists through their past forest life and culture.
The Garama cave is sentimental to the Batwa as it was their retreat point after raiding the Bafumbira farmers. It was a council chamber too. The Garama cave now provides an atmospheric setting for Batwa performances and music presentations.
What Are the Rules of Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park?
- No spitting on vegetation or the ground when in the forest. This may contaminate the food on which mountain gorillas depend.
- Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas when you locate them to reduce on chances of passing an infection to the mountain gorillas.
- Never litter the forest during gorilla trekking because this alters the nature of the woods. The Mountain gorillas feed entirely on foliage, and when you litter several plastic wraps, moisture may not penetrate the ground over time.
- Flash photography is forbidden as it may agitate the mountain gorillas and send them into hiding.
- Keep your voices low during gorilla trekking to not scare the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers. The gorillas are very suspicious of intruders in their vicinity.
- When eating or smoking, do this at least 200 meters from the mountain gorillas so that they are not enticed to grab it from you. Wild animals must search for their own food and not depend on human provision.
- Wear a mask and sanitize properly before meeting the mountain gorillas as a rule emphasized to prevent chances of passing any contagious infection to the mountain gorillas. They have a DNA of about 96 % of that of humans, so they can also catch human diseases.
- Never provoke the mountain gorillas because you do not know the impact. They may go into hiding if they get agitated, yet only one hour is allowed with them.
What To Carry For Gorilla Trekking In Mgahinga National Park
- A raincoat in case it falls while searching in the forest.
- Safari boots that cover your feet well.
- Safari foldable hat to protect your hair from water dripping off the trees.
- A camera to keep memories of having done gorilla trekking.
- Garden gloves for your palms if you trip and fall in the wilderness.
- Pajamas to wear at night as you go to sleep
- A pair of binoculars for a clearer view of far-ranging features.
- Insect repellant to keep away biting insects
- Bug spray
- Some cash to exchange into local currency if you need to purchase anything.
- First aid kit in case you need emergency assistance.
- Waterproof backpack to carry with your gorilla trekking gear.
Contact us for more information.