Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Mgahinga National Park – Permit Costs and More Tour Tips
Guide to Gorilla Trekking: Mountain gorilla trekking from the beautiful Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is rarely mentioned and if visitors to Uganda are asked about the gorilla trekking destinations they know, majority may not mentioned this small Conservation Area. Why? Because it has been overshadowed by the remarkable Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is undeniably Uganda’s smallest National Park but that doesn’t mean it falls short of magnificence and natural endowments. Even with an area of only 34 square kilometers, it shelters over 76 species of mammals, more than 180 species of birds including about 14 of the total 24 Albertine Endemic bird species, several reptile, butterflies and Amphibian species. Isn’t this Beautiful and doesn’t it qualify to be called an Epitome of Beauty? Of course it does. There are several wildlife species that are found in only Mgahinga and no any other Park in Uganda, one of these being the thrilling and frisky Golden monkeys.
Mgahinga is irrefutably the home to the smallest mountain gorilla population (of all the four Parks sheltering them), with only one habituated gorilla family (8 gorilla permits per day) which is the obvious reason why the Park is often neglected for gorilla treks. Another reason why this activity is not popular in Mgahinga is the fact that the only gorilla family used to be mobile transversing across the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo making them unreliable but the good news is that the family has now settled in Mgahinga for many years.
Therefore there are numerous reasons to trek Mountain gorillas from the small Mgahinga Gorilla National Park instead of the popular Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and these include;
- Mgahinga’s vegetation is not as thick as Bwindi’s
Mountain gorillas generally occupy mountainous areas (whether in Mgahinga or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) hence requiring physical fitness for participants but the vegetation of Mgahinga makes it easier to trek the mountain gorillas than it is in Bwindi. When it comes to vegetation cover, the latter is generally a thick Impenetrable rainforest that the mountain gorillas occupy while the great apes in Mgahinga usually occupy the Bamboo forest that offers good visibility and perfect photographic opportunities.
- Offers a golden opportunity of encountering the frisky Golden monkeys
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the only place in Uganda where silver meets gold, because it is only in this Park that you will find both Mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. It is therefore possible to trek these two magnificent primate species in this Park.
- Other extraordinary tourist activities on-top of Gorilla trekking
Another reason to trek Mountain gorillas from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the fact that it has numerous tourist activities to enjoy on top of gorilla trekking, which you can’t achieve when you visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Golden monkey tracking is one of the activities only offered in Mgahinga. If hiking the Virunga Volcanoes has always been your dream, then visiting Mgahinga Gorilla National Park will make it possible to achieve your dream because while here, you can hike three (Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo) of the eight Virunga Volcanoes but most importantly enjoy the jaw-dropping views of all the Volcanoes.
The Batwa cultural Trail exploring the detailed lifestyle of the unfamous Batwa pygmies when they still lived in the forests can also be possible from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Batwa cultural tours are usually conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park but last for few minutes and don’t usually explore their detailed story. However your visit to Mgahinga takes you through 4-6 hours of waking through the forest to see how these people harvested honey, which fruits/leaves were consumed, plants that were used for human medicine, how bamboo cups were made and many other interesting activities.
In conclusion, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is not as popular as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for gorilla trekking but there are many reasons to choose this spectacular destinations and these include the fact that it is easier to trek the mountain gorillas from Mgahinga, both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys can be encountered and other numerous tourist activities are possible in the small National and not Bwindi that every intending gorilla trekker prefers.