Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park


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Derek Schuurman
Derek Schuurman Product Manager Madagascar and Alternative Africa
"In terms of a gratifying birding experience among evergreen Afro-tropical forests, Bwindi to me will always be unbeatable!"

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Holidays

Covering only 33.7km2, Uganda's smallest national park is also one of its most strikingly beautiful. Given its proximity to Kisoro, we recommend it as a perfect stop for those traveling from Uganda to Rwanda or vice-versa. Right on the border with Rwanda, a striking feature of the park is three of the imposing, extinct Virunga volcanoes. Altitudes range from 2,227 - 4,127m above sea level, so the park supports a variety of ecosystems. Its most undisturbed remaining tract of pure Afromontane forest is at the base of Mt Muhabura. At a higher elevation, either bamboo or Hagenia-Hypericum zones replace the forest. These then give way to an Ericacious belt and ultimately, Afro-alpine habitat.

Mammals inhabiting the park are Blue and Golden monkey, Black-fronted duiker and African golden cat. Aside from various walks on offer here - varying from easy forest walks during which guests can search for the abundant and diverse birdlife which here include many of the sought-after ARE's (Albertine Rift Endemics such as the Rwenzori turacou), there are longer and more challenging hikes such as those to summit Mt Muhabura and Mt Sabyinyo. The latter marks the intersection of the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo and the point at which Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Parc National des Volcans, and Parc National des Virunga, converge.

Guests can enjoy a (challenging) morning walk from the wonderful Mount Gahinga Lodge in search of a group of habituated Golden monkeys in the lower bamboo zone of the national park. Keen birders and nature enthusiasts can venture deep into Mt. Sabinyo’s gorge. The trail takes you through a variety of montane habitats during its ascent, from former farmland and montane heath, bamboo, and Afro-alpine moorland. Along the trail which leads to the border with DR Congo, birders can seek out the liks of Doherty’s bush-shrike and Variable sunbird.

Remote and beautiful, Lakes Chahafi and Kayumbu are in set in the shadow of the Virungas, surrounded by a patchwork quilt of forests, wetlands and farmland which create magical rural scenery. If you make it here, stop by at the basic Lake Chahafi Resort, appreciated for its stunning views of Mt Muhavura. It is paradise found for hikers and birders:  you might wish to walk around part of the lake to seek its resident Otters or explore the papyrus swamp, or simply sit back and enjoy a cold drink while soaking up the serene surroundings. A minor dirt road separates Lake Chahfi from neighbouring Lake Kayumbu. This is the ‘real’ rural Uganda, where local fishermen can be seen in their small, wooden dugout canoes while children play around the lakeshore.

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