Overview – Mgahinga Gorilla NP

Ariadne van Zandbergen
Expert
By Ariadne van Zandbergen

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Uganda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Uganda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Uganda.

Ariadne and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Uganda.

Mgahinga protects the Uganda 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, though there is only one habituated gorilla troop, which has been resident since November 2012. Other attractions include hikes to the summit of three of the park’s volcanic peaks.

Best Time to Go June to August and December to January
High Season June to September (Gorilla permits are scarce)
Size 34km² / 13mi²
Altitude 2,227-4,127m / 7,306-13,540ft

Pros & Cons

  • Mountain gorilla trekking
  • Fantastic scenery with views up to volcanic peaks and over mountain-ringed lakes
  • Activities include hiking to volcanic peaks, golden monkey trekking, Batwa cultural trail and caving
  • Easier to obtain last minute permits here than in Bwindi
  • The short final access road is rough at all times and can be very bad in the rainy season
  • Gorilla trekking permits are expensive (though much cheaper than in Rwanda)

Mgahinga Gorilla NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Aside from the endangered mountain gorilla, Mgahinga is home to many other mammal species. However, as in all forests, animals tend to be hard to spot. The very rare golden monkey, endemic to the Albertine Rift, can be tracked. Other mammals include black-and-white colobus, buffalo, elephant, bushbuck and duiker.

Scenery

Mgahinga is Uganda’s smallest park. It forms part of the Virunga Mountains and adjoins with the parks across the borders of Congo and Rwanda. The entire park is at a high altitude, and the views are out of this world. The most prominent feature is the volcanic cones of extinct volcanos in the mountain range. It also offers great views over Lakes Mutanda and Mulehe.

Weather & Climate

The near-constant threat of rain means that Mgahinga doesn’t have a Dry season as such, although the precipitation eases a little from December to January, even more mid-year. The park’s reputation for being one of Uganda’s coolest places is reflected in the average daytime temperature of 20°C/68°F. You’ll need plenty of warm, waterproof clothing during the dual Wet seasons (February to May and from September to November).

Best Time to Visit

Gorillas can be tracked year-round in Mgahinga. Predictably, the low seasons roughly coincide with the Wet seasons (February to May and from September to November), but be aware that some of the park’s accommodation shuts down in these months. The landscape of the park, dominated by the Virunga Mountains, can be better navigated in the drier months.

Want to Visit Mgahinga Gorilla NP?

Mgahinga Gorilla NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Philip Briggs  –  
South Africa ZA

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

Volcanoes in the mist
3/5

As indicated by its name, this small park – protecting the Uganda portion of the Virunga Mountains, on the border with Rwanda and Congo - is best known for the opportunity to track its habituated mountain gorillas. for years, this was a...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Barbara Osmundson  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Aug 13, 2019
5/5

The gorillas were certainly the highlight of our trip! The jungle scenery was breathtaking.

Full Review