Mgahinga protects the Ugandan slopes of the majestic Virungas, a range of freestanding volcanoes that rises to a maximum altitude of 4,507m on the border with Rwanda and the DR Congo.
It is an alternative destination to Bwindi for mountain gorilla trekking. Other attractions include hikes to the summit of three of the park’s volcanic peaks and golden monkey trekking.
Mgahinga is best known as an alternative destination to Bwindi for mountain gorilla trekking, but it also offers good birding, and an opportunity to spent time with the localized golden monkey.
The Nyakagazi group is the only habituated gorilla troop here. This means only eight permits a day are available resulting in a very exclusive experience on the day of trekking.
Over 180 bird species have been recorded, and several are localized forest birds – 12 of which are considered endemic to the Albertine Rift (birds restricted to this area).
There are several guided mountain hikes on offer where birders get an opportunity to tick of some Afro-alpine endemics such as the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Mgahinga Gorilla NP lies 14km from the small town of Kisoro along a rough ascent road (allow 45 minutes). A 4WD vehicle is recommended for this road at all times and is essential in the Wet seasons (from February to May and September to November).
The park is 510km/317mi from Kampala (at least nine-hour’ drive) and it can be reached by road from Queen Elizabeth NP (around six hours) or Lake Mburo NP (five to seven hours). It is possible to take a domestic flight from Entebbe to Kisoro.
Mgahinga Gorilla NP is open for gorilla trekking the whole year, but the best time is during the drier seasons from June to August and December to January. At this time the trails tend to be easier to navigate and spending a precious hour with the gorillas might be more pleasant when it isn’t raining.