Activities to Do in Mgahinga Besides Gorilla Trekking on a Uganda Safari

Activities to Do in Mgahinga Besides Gorilla Trekking on a Uganda Safari. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, located in the southwestern corner of Uganda, is a part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area that includes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. While gorilla trekking is the star attraction in this park, there is an abundance of other activities that can enhance your Uganda safari experience. Whether you are an avid nature enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or someone looking for a unique adventure, Mgahinga offers a range of activities to keep you engaged and enthralled. This blog digs deep into various activities you can indulge in at Mgahinga, highlighting the rich diversity and splendor of this remarkable destination.

Activities to Do in Mgahinga Besides Gorilla Trekking on a Uganda Safari
Activities to Do in Mgahinga Besides Gorilla Trekking on a Uganda Safari

Golden Monkey Tracking

Golden monkey tracking is one of the most enchanting activities you can engage in at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These rare and beautiful primates, with their striking golden-orange fur and playful nature, are an endemic species found only in the Virunga volcanic region. The experience of tracking golden monkeys begins early in the morning, similar to gorilla trekking. After a briefing by the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers at the Ntebeko Visitor Center, you set off into the bamboo forests that these monkeys call home.

The trek can range from a leisurely walk to a more challenging hike depending on where the monkeys are located that day. As you traverse the forest, the rangers provide insightful commentary on the flora and fauna of the region, enriching your understanding of this unique ecosystem. The sight of golden monkeys leaping from tree to tree, chattering animatedly, and foraging for food is a delightful spectacle. You get to spend an hour in the company of these charismatic creatures, observing their behaviors, social interactions, and possibly capturing some incredible photographs.

Activities to Do in Mgahinga Besides Gorilla Trekking on a Uganda Safari
Golden monkey trekking

Batwa Cultural Trail

Another captivating activity at Mgahinga is the Batwa Cultural Trail. The Batwa, also known as pygmies, are the indigenous people of the forest who lived as hunter-gatherers for centuries before the area was designated as a national park. The Batwa Cultural Trail is a fascinating journey into the lives, traditions, and culture of the Batwa people. Led by Batwa guides, this experience offers a rare opportunity to learn about their ancient ways of life, medicinal plants, hunting techniques, and traditional dances.

The trail often begins with a hike through the forest to the Garama Cave, a significant site for the Batwa. This cave, hidden in the dense foliage, was used as a refuge during battles and a place for cultural ceremonies. Inside the cave, the Batwa demonstrate their traditional music and dance, creating an immersive cultural experience. The guides share stories of their ancestors, explaining how they lived harmoniously with the forest and utilized its resources sustainably. The Batwa Cultural Trail is not just an educational experience but also a poignant reminder of the cultural heritage and resilience of the Batwa people.

Volcano Climbing

For adventure enthusiasts, volcano climbing is an exhilarating activity that Mgahinga offers. The park is home to three extinct volcanoes: Mount Muhavura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabinyo. Each of these mountains presents a unique climbing challenge and offers spectacular views from the summit. Mount Muhavura, standing at 4,127 meters, is the highest of the three and is often referred to as the “Guide” due to its conical shape that stands out on the landscape. The climb to the summit is steep and demanding, taking about 8-9 hours round trip.

However, the effort is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Virunga Volcanoes, Lake Edward, and even as far as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Mount Gahinga, at 3,474 meters, is the shortest and easiest to climb. The trek takes about 6 hours round trip and passes through bamboo forests, home to golden monkeys. The summit features a beautiful crater lake and offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Sabinyo, at 3,669 meters, is known for its rugged terrain and the unique opportunity to stand at the tri-point border of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The climb involves navigating steep ridges and ladders, making it the most adventurous of the three climbs. Reaching the summit, you are treated to awe-inspiring views and the thrill of being in three countries simultaneously.

Hiking Mount Sabinyo

Hiking Mount Sabinyo is an adventure that offers one of the most unique experiences in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This extinct volcano, standing at 3,669 meters, presents a challenging and thrilling hike. Known for its rugged terrain, the hike involves navigating steep ridges, dense forests, and several wooden ladders. This is to reach the summit. The journey to the top of Mount Sabinyo is both physically demanding and immensely rewarding.

As you ascend, you pass through different vegetation zones, from bamboo forests to subalpine regions. The summit of Mount Sabinyo is particularly special. This is because it offers the rare opportunity to stand at the tri-point border of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The panoramic views from the top are spectacular, encompassing the Virunga Volcanoes. Also, the lush landscape of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the vast plains of Rwanda and Congo. This hike is a must-do for those seeking an adventurous and memorable experience in Mgahinga.

Bird Watching

Bird watching in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a rewarding activity for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. The park is a haven for birdlife, with over 180 species recorded, including several Albertine Rift endemics. The diverse habitats, ranging from bamboo forests to montane woodlands, provide ideal conditions for a variety of bird species. Some of the notable birds you can spot include the Rwenzori turaco, the handsome francolin, the dusky crimsonwing, and the Kivu ground thrush.

Bird watching safaris typically start early in the morning, when bird activity is at its peak. Equipped with binoculars and guided by knowledgeable birding experts, you embark on a serene walk through the park, listening to the melodious calls and songs of the birds. The guides help identify different species and provide interesting facts about their behaviors and habitats. Bird watching in Mgahinga is not just about ticking off species from a list; it is also about immersing yourself in the tranquil beauty of the park and appreciating the intricate web of life that thrives here.

Nature Walks

Nature walks in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offer a more leisurely way to explore the park’s rich biodiversity. These guided walks take you through various trails, each showcasing different aspects of the park’s natural beauty. The walks can vary in duration and difficulty, catering to different preferences and fitness levels.

One popular trail is the Sabinyo Gorge Trail, which leads through lush montane forests to a scenic gorge. Along the way, you can spot numerous bird species, butterflies, and possibly some primates. The trail offers stunning views of the gorge and the surrounding mountains. Another interesting trail is the Border Trail, which runs along the international border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This trail offers a unique perspective as you hike through different vegetation zones and enjoy views of the Virunga Volcanoes. Nature walks in Mgahinga are a peaceful and enriching experience, allowing you to connect with nature and learn about the park’s diverse ecosystems from the knowledgeable guides.

Community Visits

Community visits around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park provide an opportunity to interact with the local communities and learn about their way of life. These visits often include tours of nearby villages, where you can meet local artisans, farmers, and craftspeople. You can participate in traditional activities such as basket weaving, cooking local dishes, and brewing banana beer. These interactions offer a deeper understanding of the cultural heritage and daily lives of the people living around the park. Community visits also often include visits to local schools and health centers, providing insight into the challenges and initiatives in the region. These visits are not only educational but also contribute to the local economy, as the fees paid for these tours support community development projects.

Cave Exploration

Exploring caves in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is another thrilling activity that adds to the diversity of experiences available in the park. The most notable cave is the Garama Cave, which is historically significant for the Batwa people. The cave is located about 3 kilometers from the park headquarters and can be accessed via a guided walk. The Garama Cave is approximately 342 meters long and 14 meters deep, with sections that are pitch dark, requiring the use of torches. Inside the cave, you can learn about its historical significance as a refuge during conflicts and a place for cultural ceremonies. The Batwa guides provide fascinating insights into the cave’s history and the role it played in their culture. Cave exploration in Mgahinga is an intriguing adventure that combines history, culture, and natural beauty.

Accommodation Options in Mgahinga

After a day of exploring the wonders of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, you will need a comfortable place to rest and rejuvenate. The park and its surrounding areas offer a range of accommodation options, catering to different budgets and preferences. From luxury lodges to budget-friendly campsites, there is something for everyone.

Mount Gahinga Lodge:

Mount Gahinga Lodge is a luxury eco-lodge located near the park entrance. The lodge features spacious bandas (traditional-style cottages) with en-suite bathrooms, private verandas, and beautiful views of the surrounding gardens and volcanoes. It offers a range of amenities, including a cozy lounge with a fireplace, a well-stocked bar, and a dining area serving delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients. The lodge also offers community visits, guided nature walks, and cultural experiences with the Batwa people.

Chameleon Hill Lodge:

Situated on the shores of Lake Mutanda, Chameleon Hill Lodge offers a unique and luxurious accommodation experience. The lodge’s vibrant, colorfully designed cottages each provide stunning views of the lake and the Virunga mountain range. Each cottage is en-suite with a private veranda, ensuring privacy and comfort. The lodge features a beautiful garden, a restaurant serving gourmet meals, and a cozy lounge area. Activities offered include boat trips on Lake Mutanda, guided nature walks, and community visits, making it an excellent base for exploring the region.

Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp:

For those seeking a more budget-friendly option, Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp is an excellent choice. This community-run camp offers basic accommodation in bandas and tents. The camp provides an authentic experience with opportunities to interact with the local community, participate in traditional activities, and enjoy cultural performances. The camp also offers guided walks, bird watching, and visits to local schools and health centers.

Lake Chahafi Resort:

Located a short drive from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Lake Chahafi Resort offers mid-range accommodation with beautiful views of Lake Chahafi and the surrounding hills. The resort features comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and a bar. Guests can enjoy activities such as bird watching, canoeing, and nature walks around the lake.

Traveler’s Rest Hotel:

Situated in the nearby town of Kisoro, Traveler’s Rest Hotel is a charming mid-range hotel with a rich history. The hotel features comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms, a restaurant, and a bar. The hotel is known for its warm hospitality and beautiful gardens. It is an excellent base for exploring Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other attractions.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers an array of activities beyond gorilla trekking that can enhance your safari experience. From golden monkey tracking and Batwa cultural trails to volcano climbing and bird watching. There is something for every type of traveler. The diverse accommodation options ensure that you have a comfortable and memorable stay while exploring the wonders of this unique destination.



    Request a Quote:

    Select Language »
    error: Content is protected !!