Mgahinga national park is situated in far south western part of Uganda at the border of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and known to be the smallest national park in the country covering an area of 33.9 square kilometers. Though is the smallest, it harbors a good number of biodiversity and among others include; the golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, different bird species among others.
The park is located in the Virunga ranges and it’s is occupied mainly by bamboo forests, montane forests, Rwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands, tree heath and many more. This is where you can find the above wildlife species.
In this park, the main activity is gorilla trekking followed by golden monkey trekking. There is only one gorilla family in Mgahinga national park, and that is Nyakagezi.
Nyakagezi gorilla family gets its name from a place where it was first sighted in the park but literary, Nyakagezi comes from a local word ‘’Kagezi’’ meaning wise or bright. This gorilla family is always available for trekking since its habituation in 1991. The group was fond of frequently migrating to neighboring countries of Rwanda and D.R. Congo but now, it permanently settled in Uganda. This means that you are able to visit this group any time of the year not like in the past where visitors could miss due to its frequent migrations.
Nyakagezi gorilla family was initially under the leadership of Bugingo the silver back after its habituation process who grew older and was later awarded with a title of ‘Mzee’ which literary means elder. After, Bugingo was overthrown by his son but it’s amazing and surprising to find that it still lives within this family as a subordinate which is not common with other gorilla families. Bugingo is now believed to have 54 years of age and this makes the gorilla family to be unique hence making it worth to visit.
The group is now led by Mark with the help of his brother Mafia but it comprises of 10 members, including with 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females and 3 young ones. This gorilla family is easier to trek as it thrives within the lowland areas unlike other gorilla families that live in highlands or steep slopes. Therefore, booking this gorilla family on your Uganda gorilla safari creates a great and memorable experience.
There are only 8 gorilla permits sold every day since a given gorilla group can be only visited by 8 people each day. Gorilla trekking permits cost same price like elsewhere - USD700 for foreign nonresidents, USD600 for foreign residents and for UGX 250,000 for East African Citizens as for 2020/2022 Uganda Wildlife Authority tariff.
For tourists interested in gorilla trekking in Mgahinga, you need to book gorilla trekking permits in advance since they are on high demand and there are only two ways to book your permit, one being contacting Uganda Wildlife Authority directly or using a recognized tour operator. Prior booking is so important within about 3 to 6 months before the actual date of trekking. Following this, you will never be disappointed on the last minute.
Trekking these gorilla families in this park is normally done in the morning and starts with briefing and then grouping depending on fitness levels, personal preference and even age. An hour is normally allocated to visitors for a face to face interaction with these gorillas. This grants one an opportunity to learn the behaviors, habits, lifestyle of the gorillas and so much more.
As you plan your Uganda safari, include Mgahinga national park which will create everlasting memories of gorilla trekking as well as other rewarding experiences.