This is Uganda’s smallest national park but very picturesque and important. Covering just 38sq km, Mgahinga enjoys a magnificent setting on the northern slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. Two rare primates are the main attractions to the park; the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys that can be tracked easily. The park protects three Virunga Ranges and one can climb these dormant volcanoes to stand simultaneously on the border of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. This park offers a unique Batwa forest experience, including discovery of a cave and traditional home of the Batwa king complemented cultural dances in the cave.
Mgahinga National Park is part of a larger ecosystem, the Virunga Conservation Area (434 km sq) which includes two adjacent national parks in Rwanda and Congo. It rises from 2227 m to 4127 m above sea level.
The park which is also rich in cultural heritage featuring in the history, folklore and traditional healing practices for local people. The Batwa People who used to stay within the park live in the boundaries of the park and you can have a good cultural experience guided by a local.
Mgahinga National Park covers the north slopes of the three northern Virunga volcanoes, Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo. The park derives its name from a word “Gahinga” a local Kinyarwanda word for a pile of a volcanic lava stone heaps that was formed by the Gahinga mountain. On the other hand, Muhavura means “guide” and Sabinyo means “the old man’s teeth”. The park is bordred to the south by Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While Sabinyo is deeply eroded with jagged crown and deep gorges and ravines, Gahinga has a swamp filled crater about which is about 180m wide. Muhavura has a small crater lake about 36m wide at its summit. You can take a hike to all the three peaks of these mountains while on a tour in Mgahinga National park.
On some of the steep mountain slopes are caves formed by lava tubes, one of them being the famous Garama cave located near Ntebeko, the park headquarters that is explored by tourists on a guided walk conducted by park rangers.
Mgahinga National park can be accessed by road or air transport. Kisoro town at the foot of Mt Muhavura is about 540 km from Kampala and takes about 8 hours via Kabale on an excellent paved road surface. Publi transport by bus is available on daily basis. Mgahinga is located 13 km from Kisoro town and can be accessed by public transport. Kisoro town can also be accessed by air. The two towns boasts of a bitumen runway Airfield at Nyakabande.
For more information about the park visit the Mgahinga National Park website, a detailed planner to exploring the park.