Despite being only one-tenth the size of the likes of Bwindi, Mgahinga’s gorilla experience leaves no room for disappointment. Ringed by three dormant Volcanoes that soar over Ugands’s border with Rwanda and Congo, this forest and bamboo filled highland is one of the loveliest places in not just East Africa, but all over the continent.
It is seldom visited due to its remote location at the furthest point of South Western Uganda. As such, its primeval wilderness vibe can’t be topped elsewhere in Virunga region. Wildlife viewing is good year-round with healthy populations of golden monkeys and many forest elephants, buffaloes and bushbucks.
As with most of Ugandan parks, the birding here is outrageously good. The park boasts of 115 bird species inclusive of 14 of the 23 species endemic to the Albertine Rift mountains. Such include Ruwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori batis, Kivu ground-thrush. Other notables include White-necked raven, Black kite, Double-collared sunbird, Paradise flycatcher, Dusky crimson wing, Blue-headed coucal, Pin-tailed whydah and Grey Capped Warbler among others.
Gorilla trekking here Vs Bwindi
Gorilla adventures here are often considered an ‘easier’ trek than Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the most visited center for tracking mountain gorillas. However, it is still advisable that you were comfortable shoes as the hike can stretch up to six hours on days when gorillas hike to higher altitudes in search for food. The beautiful scenery of the forest zone and bamboo zone where they roam, makes you feels so far away from all the hustle and bustle. Even better, the sounds of the tweeting birds is so relaxing to the senses! Inclines are quite steep so plan on taking your time while descending.
Mgahinga protects the Ugandan portion of the majestic Virunga Mountains, with three dormant volcanoes, all of which offer a hiking experience to remember. These are Muhavura(4127m), Mt. Mgahinga (3474m) and Sabinyo(3660m). It takes an average of 9 hours to hike to and fro their summits, each of which has breathtaking views in nearly every direction.
There is no shortage of great vantage points to take your panoramic pics of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo from up Sabinyo. This is thanks to its location at a point where these three mineral rich countries intersect. On the other hand, the scenic crater lake atop mountain Muhavura makes the exhausting climb worth every step. It lies partly in Uganda and partly Congo.
The trails leading to the summits of all the three mountains don’t have problems with snow and ice. As such, they are not that slippery and thus offer relatively easily to climb even in rainy seasons. That aside, they don’t experience high winds which would have knocked down trees and blocked the roads or potentially land on hikers.
It is wiser for you to take things slow. Rushing the hike doubles your chances of succumbing to altitude sickness. On the other hand, a gentle pace allows your body to acclimatize with the surrounding vegetation. That aside, it allows yo to enjoy each new visual stimulant.
Take enough water and snacks, there are no shops in the mountain where you can buy them in case you forget.
Golden monkey trekking
If you are one who enjoys nature and all it has to offer, You Should Be Here for golden monkey trekking. It grants you a closer connection to nature. There are a several trails to take, most of which are good for leisurely stroll and full of picture perfect photo opportunities. Mingling with a troop of over 60 monkeys is an experience you will never forget.
You will track a family both on the ground, as they search for fruits to eat, and through the forest canopy as they jump in the trees with more ease than spiderman. You are likely to notice big males trying to woo females on ground, which makes for some excellent pictures. It is mysterious how they can stare visitors sometimes, just with a small gesture or movement.
Throughout your hike, you will hear sweet tweets of birds lounging in the canopy.
The duration of the hike is unpredictable as these monkeys are not caged as is the case in zoos. They roam freely in search for food. To this effect, wear comfy hiking shoes.
Best time to visit: All year round especially the dry months; June to August and December to February.