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A brief Description of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park forms part of the extensive Virunga Conservation Area (VACA), a shared region by 3 African countries; Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo. The park is situated in Kisoro District, the far Southwestern side of Uganda. It was established in 1991 and primarily protects the endangered mountain gorillas.

Mgahinga is 33.7sq.km and derives its name from the Kinyarwanda word –Gahinga which also means the small lava stones. This park features unique landscape characterized by woodlands, savanna grasslands, bamboo forest, semi-alpine vegetation, montane forests, Afro-montane, tropical forest and other volcanoes like Muhabura and Sabyinyo.

At Mgahinga National Park, variety of wildlife species are available for exploration including the forest hogs, bushbucks, patas monkeys, golden monkeys, baboons, buffaloes, African porcupines, leopards, golden cats, black and white colobus monkeys, bush babies, geckos, snakes and many birds.


Mgahinga National park is located in South Western Uganda. The park lies on the northern slopes of the mountains Muhabura, Mgahinga and Sabyinyo. These three volcanoes give the park an unforgettable view. The park can be accessed from both Kampala (uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda).

Great Scenery

Mgahinga is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The parks is located in the “skies” with its fascinating peaks rising high. The park is formed of three of the six Virunga volcanoes that define the southern boundary of the Albertine Rift Valley. These volcanoes spread across Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.

The Virunga Mountains are home to more than half the last remnant population of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas. On the slopes of the volcanoes, there are about 480 individuals wondering through the hilly forested jungles, while the remaining 420 live in the nearby Uganda’s Bwindi National Park Impenetrabele. The mountain gorillas of Mgahinga roam freely within the two adjacent gorilla parks in Rwanda (Volcanoes NP) and DRC (Virunga NP).

Things to Do in Mgahinga

Gorilla trekking

Aside from exploring Lake Kagezi, gorilla trekking is a must-do activity on a Uganda safari tour in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This park holds a population of about 80 mountain gorillas, some of these can be spotted on a gorilla trek in Nyakagezi family group. A valid Mgahinga gorilla permit is required for you to be allowed to visit Nyakagezi group and each permit is obtainable at US$700 per person.

Gorilla trekking is the main highlight of visiting Mgahinga National Park. There is one habituated gorilla family that tourists visit on a gorilla trek within the park. The habituated group is called the Nyakagyezi group and consists of 11 members including 2 silver back gorillas. You can book a gorilla tour to this park with a local tour operator in Uganda or Rwanda and the booking of a gorilla permit is done by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Although mountain gorillas, are the biggest attraction forms of the park, there is other wildlifethat live in the park. The park has no fewer than 76 species of mammals, including the golden monkey (local and rare breed from blue monkey), black and white colobus monkey, leopard, forest elephants and the large forest hogs. Golden monkey tracking is another interesting adventure one can take in Mgahinga National Park. For birders the park has a good number of bird species inclduing rarities and endemics.

Around the park there are several different local communities where one can go for a local community tour. These include the Batwa Pygmy tribe, an ethnic group that lived in the forest. The Batwa were food gatherers that shared the forest with the mountain gorillas. To protect the mountain gorillas these people were relocated from the forest without compensation and were moved to outside the park. You can take a Batwa Local Community tour and get them earn a living from tourism.

Tips for Mgahinga Visitors

The habituated gorilla family within the park moves between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Therefore booking your gorilla trekking tour you need to get a confirmation from a local tour operator about the presence of the group within the park. For the last 2 years the group has been in Uganda.

Gorilla trekking is a strenuous activity! You need to be physically fit in order to enjoy your gorilla trek in Mgahinga National Park. Remember to come with the right gear for your adventure into the wild.

Getting There

You can take a bus from Kampala to Kisoro. The park is located just a 30-minute drive from Kisoro and you can take an organized car service from Kisoro. It is possible to reach Kampala from Mgahinga in one day, but the distance is very far.  There are many tour operators who offer an organized gorilla safari that you can join to explore the park in depth!

For more information visit the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park website.