At just 33.7km2, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m). The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and to the west by the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Parkover view
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the larger Virunga Conservation area that spreads over the three countries. Each of these countries protects its own portion of the Virungas, in the Parc National des Volcans and Parc National des Virunga respectively. The three parks together form the 434-sq. km. ‘Virunga Conservation Area’ or VCA. Mgahinga is 33.7 sq. km, just 8% of the VCA. The entire Park is in Bufumbira County of Kisoro District.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is 33.7 sq. km and consists of the partly forested slopes of three extinct volcanoes. From far away, the huge cones of the Virunga volcanoes dominate the landscape and beckon you as you approach. When you reach the park you can get a great overview of the area by walking up the viewpoint, just 15 minutes from Ntebeko Gate.
Mgahinga Park has great biological importance because throughout the climatic changes of the Pleistocene ice ages, mountains such as these provided a refuge for mountain plants and animals, which moved up or down the slopes as climate became warmer or cooler. The Virungas are home to a large variety of wildlife, including about half the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
What to do
Flora and fauna
Mgahinga’s slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowest zone is an area of grass and bush which was formerly encroached and cleared by farmers and is now regenerating. Undisturbed vegetation starts with montane woodland, followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone which contains giant tree heathers. The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which occurs only on East African mountains above 3000m and includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.
The park contains at least 39 species of mammal and 79 birds. Larger mammals include elephant, leopard, buffalo and bush pig but these are rarely seen. Mgahinga’s most famous resident is the mountain gorilla. Less famous but equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the Virungas and in one other forest in Rwanda. Notable bird species include the Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane.
Meet the locals
Kisoro District is heavily populated with 331 people/ km2. There are two main ethnic groups. The most numerous are the Bafumbira who are primarily farmers. The Batwa, who once practiced a subsistence hunter-gather life in the forest, form a minority group.
Ntebeko Visitor Centre
Park activities are arranged from the Visitor Centre at Ntebeko. A viewing platform, 800m uphill from the Visitor Centre, provides good views of the park and the surrounding areas. A guide is not necessary and access is free.
Mgahinga has three volcanic peaks, Muhubura(4127m), Sabyinyo (3669m) and Mgahinga (3474m). These can all be climbed. Though no specialist equipment is required, a reasonable level of fitness is necessary if you intend to enjoy the experience.
The names of the three peaks come to life in translation. Muhabura means ‘the guide’ and its towering cone is a prominent landmark. During the 19th Century its crater still glowed to provide a natural lighthouse for travellers. The rim of the older Sabyinyo has weathered into a ring of stubby peaks, earning it the title ‘Old Man’s Teeth’. These imposing cones overshadow the stumpy Mt. Mgahinga which is named for the local practice of tidying the volcanic rocks that clutter farmland into ‘small piles of stones’ – or gahingas.
Sabinyo has three peaks. An ascent leads first to Peak 1 before climbing towards Peak 2 along a narrow ridge that overlooks breathtaking drops into deep gorges on each side. Peak 3 is reached by a steep and muddy scramble. The borders of three countries converge on this summit and you will find yourself simultaneously in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. The 14km round trip takes about 8 hours.
An ascent of Mt. Gahinga climbs through bamboo forest to reach a lush swamp which lies in the crater at the summit. The round trip from Ntebeko takes around 6 hours.
This classic volcanic cone is capped by a small but r: lake; a modest reward for a 5 hour hike that rises 1700m to over 41 OOm. The real incentives for the cli mountain’s marvellous alpine vegetation and superb r The Muhuvura trail provides the quickest and shortest route to experience these dramatic plants while the View includes the five other Virunga volcanoes, the rift valley, Lake Edward and (in clear weather) the Rwenzori mountains. The 12km round trip takes around 8 hours. If you have your own equipmer you should consider camping at the ranger post at the base of the volcano to make an early start (and improve your chances of clear views).
EXCELLENT Based on 109 reviews.
6. January, 2022.
The Pearl of Africa
The gorilla trekking with Laba Africa was absolutely gorgeous. We were lucky to find the family after just 20 minutes of walking through forest. The rangers were always helping us to get great pictures and they knew much about the animals.
Our driver Alonso was also very kind and gave us many valuable information on the pearl of Africa.
We really enjoyed every single moment that trip and can recommend it to everyone else.
11. December, 2021.
An amazing experience
An amazing experience! We saw so many animals, so many incredible landscapes. We also have the chance to discover the local cultures. 🥰
The guides were very nice and we learned a lot!
Every lodge we slept in, was perfectly chosen. Uganda is worth a visit! Go there!
7. December, 2021.
Exceptional moments in Uganda !
Je recommande Laba Africa Expeditions. Des moments d’exception, un voyage sensationnel et un guide au top !
L’Ouganda est un pays magnifique. Nous avons été merveilleusement accueilli et avons eu la chance de découvrir les gorilles et les chimpanzés. C’est une expérience unique !
5. December, 2021.
Weekend in South Sudan
Did a great weekend tour visiting the Mundari tribe near Juba, South Sudan. Everything went well, I really enjoyed the trip.
7. November, 2021.
Wonderful trip through Uganda
Traveling with Laba Africa was a great experience!
We saw amazing landscapes and animals in different national parks and spent the nights in beautiful lodges. The guides were extemely nice and fun to be around.
Especially the planning of our trip was amazing. We had some special requests because I wanted to visit some friends in between our Safari tours. That was no problem and got nicely included in our plan for the trip. Whatever we requested was made possible!
I can only recommend traveling with Laba Africa. We will definitely return!
11. October, 2021.
The best and highly reliable Uganda experience you can get!
My family and I just came back from a three-week-customized roudtrip of Uganda with Laba Africa. It was a tremendous experience!
Starting with chimp tracking in Kibale, we saw lions the same day in Queen Elizabeth NP. Then on to Ishasha, Lake Mburo NP and jinja, where we had a short break. Then we went to a small village near Soroti to visit friends of our daughter. From there we went on to Karamoja, Kibale NP, Murchison Falls NP before we came back to Entebbe.
It didn’t matter what special requests we made, Laba Africa made them possible, sometimes even more!
But the most important thing is this: The planning of this trip startet in autumn 2019 and it was mostly paid for in January 2020. It should have taken place in March 2020, but then the pandemic destroyed our plans. Through all the insecurities for that 18 months peroid until we finally could make the trip, Laba Africa held contact, took care that our chimp tracking permits did not to expire und charged nothing additional – except for some new requests we had.
So Laba Africa is absolutely the best and most reliable partner for visiting Uganda or any of the other countries they are offering tours to! We will return to Uganda and to Laba Africa for sure!
21. September, 2021.
5 dnů safari – nezapomenutelný zážitek…trekování šimpanzů, safari, vodopády, plavba po Nilu a návštěva místní komunity
Na doporučení jsme se s kamarádkou rozhodly absolvovat 5 denní safari s Laba Africa a rozhodně nelitujeme. Dojeli pro nás do Jinjy, kde jsme pobývaly, nemusely jsme cestovat do Kampaly. Vyjeli jsme směr NP Murchison falls, cesta je dlouhá a velmi náročná, člověk si musí obrnit nervy vůči šílené dopravě a opravdu mnoha retardérům. Nicméně pozná opravdový ugandský život kolem. Odpoledne jsme dorazili k vodopádům. Úžasný zážitek vidět takovou masu vodu protékat úzkým místem. Po pozdním obědě jsme jeli na první “game drive”. Vidět všechny zvířata ve svém přirozeném prostředí je opravdu nezapomenutelné. Ubytování ve stanech pod střechou, hezké okolí, ale je vhodné se předem ujistit, zda máte večeře a obědy v ceně. My jsme to z itineráře špatně pochopily a pak si musely hlídat, aby nám vyšly peníze (nedá se platit kartou). Druhý den ranní game drive a odpo plavba po Nilu k vodopádům zespodu. Asi nejslabší část výletu, ale viděly jsme hrochy a krokodýly. Třetí den přesun na západ země, který má úplně jinou krajinu. Kopcovitý terén, lesy, balvany, čajovníkové plantáže….prostě nádhera. Ubytování opět ve stanech, tentokrát ale opravdu v pralese, nádherné místo. Nejlepší část výletu bylo určitě trekování šimpanzů. Vyjdete po malých skupinkách a hledáte rodinku šimpanzů, pak s nimi strávíte asi hodinu a pozorujete jak žijí. Dostanete se k nim na vzdálenost třeba i 3 metrů! Odpoledne je community tour, kde se dozvíte, jak se vyrábí banánové pivo, pálenka, káva, košíky a navštívíte místního léčitele. K večeru nebo další den ráno vás ještě provede místní po “bažině”, kde pozorujete další druhy opic, ptáků a nádhernou faunu. Po cestě zpět jsme se zastavili na chvilku u čajovníkové plantáže a pozorovali sběr. Náš průvodce Allonso byl úžasný, opravdu se snažil najít všechny zvířata, abychom o nic nepřišly, a ví toho o zvířatech a NP opravdu hodně.
19. September, 2021.
Professionnalisme, qualité et sympathie
J’ai loué un de leurs 4×4 (Toyota Landcruiser avec tente de toi) pendant un mois pour sillonner le pays et je n’ai pas eu un seul problème. Quand bien même j’en aurais eu un, ils ont des mécanos dans tout le pays. Prix, en toute sincérité, presque imbattables, service de qualité et Sam est une belle personne. Plus qu’une recommandation, c’est un encouragement à travailler avec eux :))
15. September, 2021.
Safari, Murchison falls, chimpanzee tracking and community walk – great experience!
The best part was definitely chimpanzee tracking, that was an incredible experience! Next amazing part of our trip was community walk, where locals showed us their traditional beer, gin, coffee and basket making. It was great to have time to talk to them :) Game drives through savanas was so amazing, our guide Alonso did everything to try to find the best parts of the park and to find every animal there is to see, but you can never be sure, you’ll be lucky enough to see them all. We also saw Murchison falls, that was so nice, although the boat ride to see them from the river was kind of boring, too long for too little of experience. But overall amazing trip!
31. August, 2021.
Unforgettable trip through Uganda with Laba Africa :)
We really enjoyed out trip through Uganda with Laba Africa. The tourguides took good care of us and they showed us so many fascinating things! Furthermore, it was very easy to change or add additional things to our already existing program.
I can really recommend a trip with Laba Africa to everyone! :)
Thank you very much to Samuel and his team! We really enjoyed our time in Uganda and with you.