Mgahinga Gorilla national park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a national park in southwestern Uganda. It was gazetted in 1991 and covers an area of 33.9 km2 (13.1 sq mi).
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is located in the Virunga Mountains and encompasses three inactive volcanoes, namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo.
In altitude the national park ranges from 2,227 to 4,127 m (7,306 to 13,540 ft) and is part of the Nile River watershed area. It is contiguous with Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and the southern sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The park is about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) by road south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometres (34 mi) by road west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region.
The area experiences two wet rainy seasons: February to May; and September to December. The average monthly rainfall varies from 250 mm (9.8 in) in October to 10 mm (0.39 in) in July.
The national park encompasses bamboo forest, Albertine Rift montane forests, Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands with tree heath, and an alpine zone at higher altitudes.
Primates present in the national park include mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti).
Of the Albertine Rift’s endemic birds, the following were recorded in the national park during surveys in 2004: handsome spurfowl, dusky crimson-wing, red-throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, Archer’s ground robin, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, strange weaver, montane nightjar, red-faced woodland warbler and Grauer’s swamp warbler.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established in 1991 in an area that used to be a game reserve between the 1930s and 1950, but was partly converted to crop fields in lower altitudes.
Biological surveys were initiated in 1989, wire traps destroyed, rangers trained and trees planted. Settlers were relocated to areas outside the national park’s borders in the early 1990s.
Attractions in Mgahinga Gorilla National park
There are numerous caves but the most significant of all is the Garama cave located 4 km from Ntebeko visitor center. The 200 meter long caves are sacred places for the BaTwa who were evicted from their ancestral forest in 1991 but fortunately are now allowed as guides and have earned themselves income from tourism. Visitors meet the BaTwa guides, the shortest people on earth. Along the trail you will learn from their explanations and showcasing their former forest traditions including hunting skills, herbal medicine administration, water collection using bamboo shoots, tree climbing and houses, evolution of fire technology and pipe smoking.
After one hour of walking, arrive at Garama caves and BaTwa elders will first pray to their perfect black god for spiritual guidance.
Inside the caves are stair giving access to its dark interior, the BaTwa pottery remains and molded chairs where they used to stay and hide from enemies during battle fields can be seen.
There are also bat colonies as you come out, the BaTwa trail ends with memorable cultural dance performances including folklore and rituals.
The Batwa (Pygmy) trails:
This is a tourism project run by the United Organisation for the Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) that runs across the lower slopes of the Muhavura & Gahinga volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Guests are guided by the Batwa community members on forest walks exploring the life experiences they go through in their homes (forests).
There’s entertainment from the local community and a variety of locally made crafts available on sale.
Golden Monkey Tracking
In the whole world, golden monkeys live only in central Africa and the Virunga massifs has a population of about 3000 to 4000 individuals.
Golden monkeys are beautiful primate species that inhabit in the Bamboo forests of the Virunga ranges and not anywhere else.
In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park at least a troop of 40 – 60 golden monkeys are habituated and visitors hike to higher altitudes in the bamboo zones where they stay most of the times.
These primates are very striking to photograph with their golden and silvered black fur, though they move swiftly you just have to be good at taking pictures.
Mgahinga National park also offers chances of golden monkey habituation where you spend the whole day with the golden monkeys compared to trekking which allows you only 1 hour, golden monkey habituation is only done in Mgahinga National park at 100 US dollars.
Bujuku Eco Tours has a variety of tours to Mgahinga Gorilla National park for Gorilla trekking, Golden monkey tracking, Batwa cultural experience and Volcano hiking.
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