Mgahinga gorilla national park is Uganda’s smallest national park. It protects the Ugandan part of the Virunga Mountains, a range comprising six extinct as well as three active volcanoes and straddling the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo. There are three peaks that lie within Mgahinga: Muhabura at (4,123m), Sabinyo (3,645m) and Gahinga (3,475m). The higher reaches of these peaks are covered in afro-montane forest and they harbor a wide variety of wildlife.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is a wonderfully scenic national park, with panoramic views stretching northwards as far as the Bwindi hills, and a southern skyline dominated by the steep volcanic cones of the Virungas, one of the most memorable sights in East Africa. The park protects 76 mammal species including the golden monkey, black-and-white colobus, mountain gorilla, leopard, elephant, giant forest hog, bushpig, buffalo, bushbuck, black-fronted duiker and several varieties of rodents, bats and small predators. Bafflingly, only 87 bird species have been recorded in Mgahinga, possibly a reflection of the park’s small size (it only covers an area of 33km2) but also suggesting that no serious study of its fauna has ever been undertaken. However, the park is still of great interest to bird-watchers, as several of the species recorded are localized forest birds, and 12 are considered to be endemic to the Albert Rift region.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is best know for gorilla tracking and golden monkey tracking. However, there are no gorillas permanently within the park, but a fair number move freely between Uganda and the neighboring Parc des Volcans in Rwanda, and one habituated troop frequently spends months at a stretch within Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Mgahinga gorilla national park offers a far broader range of activities than any other of the mountain gorilla reserves – caving, forest walks, and day hikes to the three volcanic peaks that lie partly within Uganda. Anybody who enjoys challenging day hikes or who has an interest in natural history could happily spend a week based at Mgahinga without ever going gorilla tracking.
Ntebeko entrance Gate is located 14km from Kisoro along a dirt road. A 4×4 vehicle is necessary, and even then the drive will probably take best part of an hour. 2km out of Kisoro, at Nturo trading center, you will reach a Y-shaped junction. The left fork is the official road to Mgahinga gorilla national park, while the right fork is a vehicle-width. The two roads re-connect at Muramba Potato Store about 6.5km before the entrance gate.