Extraordinary Africa>Uganda>Mgahinga National Park
Uganda’s other great gorilla trekking destination… While Mgahinga’s not as well-known as Bwindi, nevertheless as part of the wider Virunga ecosystem, which spreads into Rwanda and the DRC, it is a fantastic spot for gorilla trekking. The mountains also afford some pretty spectacular scenery and Mgahinga could easily lay claim to being one of the prettiest parts of Uganda. This is one of the few places in Uganda you might spot the Golden Monkey, and there are some pleasant hiking trails for guests who have more time to spare.
The history of the Batwa community is inextricably linked to the park- when it was gazetted in 1991 over 2,000 people were evicted from the forest. Many remain nearby, and it’s possible to visit and learn about how they once lived and the challenges they face now.
Gorilla trekking at Mgahinga
There is one habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga National Park- the Nyakagazi Group. Historically, trekking here was quite hit or miss, as gorillas have little respect for national borders and could easily cross into Rwanda or the DRC without warning. However, these days trekking is a lot more reliable, and we’re happy to recommend this for our travellers.
Golden Monkey trekking at Mgahinga
This is a fun, but challenging hike, starting at 2,700m up in the bamboo zone of the mountain- so a degree of fitness is certainly helpful. The Virunga mountain range is one of the only places you’ll find these monkeys. The habituated troop has upwards of 60 members- they’re relaxed enough that you should get some reasonable photographs, but sufficiently active that watching, and finding, them is quite exciting.
Visiting the Batwa community at Mgahinga
Protecting the gorillas of Mgahinga has sadly come at the expense of the Batwa community who had traditionally lived in the forest. Today many continue to live in poverty on land surrounding the national park, and it’s possible to visit them to learn about their traditional way of life in the forest, and how the live now. It’s one of the few ways that the community can earn an income, and a chance to learn about a vanishing way of life.