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Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda

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Mgahinga Map PDF
Mgahinga Map Gif

All National Park tariffs indicated below are effective 01 January 2009 through 30th June 2010
UWA New tariffs document Jan 2009 - June 2010 (148KB)Adobe Acrobat Document

News - July 2007. A group of habituated mountain gorillas has returned from their long ‘exile’ across the border in Rwanda’s Parc de Volcanoes. Many of the gorillas in that border transcending ecosystem, nestled in the triangle between Congo DR, Rwanda and Uganda, migrate across international borders. The main body of the habituated group is now back in Uganda while only some females reportedly still lingering on the Rwandan side of the park. This development allows Uganda Wildlife Authority to once again sell gorilla tracking permits for the Mgahinga and relieve some of the pressure on Bwindi, where the bulk of the gorilla tracking takes place. It will also benefit tourism into the Kisoro area of Uganda, which in itself is one of the most scenic parts of the country and holds many more attractions interesting for tourists visiting the country.

Please note that for those wishing to track Gorillas in Uganda after 1st July 2007 their has been an increase in the permit price as reflected below:
Non resident: US$500-
Resident: US$475-
Uganda citizen (Uganda only): Ushs250,000-

 Gorilla Tracking Fee  Non-Resident  East African Resident  East Africans
 No persons under 15yrs  US$500-  US$475-  Ush250,000-

Gorilla Permits:
For additional information on Gorilla Permits please read document 'Gorilla Permits'
Direct telephone communication with the National Parks office in Buhoma is not possible.
No persons under 15 years of age may trek Gorillas
Gorilla tracking begins at 08.30. Arrive at least 15 mins prior to this for registration.
Rates do include park fee, guide fee, a certificate of trekking and community levy.

 Visitor Entrance Fees  Non-Resident  Foreign Resident  East Africans
 Class - Category A  Visitation Fees US$  Visitation Fees US$  Visitation Fees Ush
 Adult  1 day/night - $30-  1 day/night - $20-  1 day/night - Ush5,000-
 Child (5-15 years)  1 day/night - $15-  1 day/night - $10-  1 day/night - Ush2,500-
 Child (0-5 years)  Free  Free  Free
Foreign Students with valid international identity cards are allowed 25% on entrance fees.
One days entrance is valid for twenty-four hours from the time of entrance.
All visitors will be required to produce valid ID's in order to determine their resident status.

 Vehicle Entrance Fees  Foreign Registered  Uganda Registered
 N/A  N/A  N/A
Vehicle entrance is not applicable. Accommodation is available at the park entrance where you can safely leave vehicles.

 Camping Fees  
 N/A  N/A
Accommodation and camping is available at the park entrance at the Community Campground. There are no camp sites within the park

 Guided Nature Walks  Non-Resident  Foreign Resident  East Africans
 Up to 4 hours  US$10-  US$10-  Ushs5,000-
 Over 4 hours  US$15-  US$15-  Ushs10,000-

 Golden Monkey Tracking Fee  Non-Resident  Foreign Resident  East Africans
   $50-  US$50-  Ushs20,000-

 Virunga Volcano Climb  Non-Resident/Resident   East Africans
 1 day hike with guide  US$50- per person inc park fee  Ushs30,000- inc park fee
A Ranger/Guide is compulsory on all Virunga hikes. The hike fee includes the Guide fee.

 Caving Non-Resident/Resident   East Africans
 1 day hike with guide US$40- per person inc park fee Ushs20,000- inc park fee

Commercial Filming Fees:
Commercial filming permits need to be applied for in Kampala at the UWA offices before proceeding to Bwindi. The cost for this per day is US$200- per person per day. You do not need a filming permit for non professional Analogue Video or Digital Video.

Gorilla filming: Less than 3 days US$3,500; 3days US$5,000, above 3 days each additional day US$1,000 per day. (This excludes Gorilla tracking permits).

Access:
The park can be reached by way of road through Kabale and Kisoro, 510 kms from Kampala. Kabale is where the tarmac finishes. From Kampala to Kabale a 434 km journey can be completed in 8 hours on good tarmac. Kabale is 88 kms to Kisoro on a mountainous marrum road with steep inclines and descents. Large trucks with trailers proceeding to and from the DRC via the border at Bunagana (14 kms from Kisoro) use this route. Great care should be observed in trying to pass such vehicles.

Travel time Kabale-Kisoro 3 hours walking.

Lake Mutanda with Virunga volcanoes distant
Lake Mutanda with part of the Virunga range distant

In Kisoro visit the National Parks office for directions to the Park HQ at Ntebeko Camp located 13.6 Kms from Kisoro. They have a map you may be able to make a photocopy of before setting out.
NP Kisoro office- pass the Caltex station and Commercial Bank of Uganda on your left coming from Kabale and proceed for 500m up a slight hill, NP office immediately on the right. It is well sign posted.

The route to Mga Hinga Ntebeko Camp:
Take direction Bunagana from the NP Office, after 100m take a left turn at the Travelers Rest. Almost immediately after TR make a right turn (straight on leads to the Uganda/Rwanda border at Cyanika). A further 250m take a further right turn. You are now on the main track to Mgahinga. All further junctions are well sign posted. At junction 4.3 kms there are 2 signposts. One leads to Muhavura Ranger Station (straight on) and the other (a right turn) to Ntebeko Gate.

The route had been upgraded right up to Ntebeko Gate (Sept 00) improving it dramatically. Parts of the road at 6 kilometers from Kisoro are liable to flooding after heavy rain. It can be very muddy. The steep assent road to the Ntebeko Gate starts 7.3 kms after leaving the NP office in Kisoro.

The route from junction 4.3 kms to Muhavura Ranger Station is rough. Vehicles can be left at the campsite or at the roads end below the Ranger Station where you should find someone to take care of it.

Leaving a vehicle here is a good idea if the Gorilla family is currently located on Mt. Muhavura. It will save a 16 km walk from Ntebeko gate and back from the Muhavura Ranger Post. Gorilla trekking starts from the Ranger Station where a tracker from the previous days tracking is picked up to help locate the family.

For those without their own transport a 'Private Hire' can be arranged at the bus park in Kisoro town or through the Virunga Hotel behind the National Parks office in Kisoro. Through the Virunga Hotel you can arrange a price for a return journey allowing you peace of mind that they will come to pick you after some days spent at the park.

Route to Ntebeko gate
Trading centre en-route to Ntebeko gate

Accommodation:
There is a wide selection of accommodation for visitors in Kisoro, Kabale and at the National Park. For details of Kisoro and Kabale read the documents written on them. Only accommodation at Mgahinga will be covered here. Many visitors to Mgahinga choose to stay in Kisoro Town especially if they do not have their own vehicle and have come only with the intention of trekking Gorilla's.

Mgahinga Community Campground: Tel +256 (0)774 954956. Located at Mgahinga UWA Ntebeko Gate HQ with ample space for Do-It-Yourself campers. Accommodation includes 1 self contained banda, 3 non self contained bandas and a dormitory. Meals are available, sodas, bottle water and occasionally fresh baked buns. A large community building provides shelter as an eating area and place to stay dry during bad weather. Bucket showers and pit latrine toilets.

Rates 2012
Banda self contained Ushs65,000-, Banda non self contained Ushs45,000-, Dormitory Banda: Ushs15,000 per bed, Camping: Ushs10,000- ea

Mount Gahinga Lodge: Located outside the Ntebeko Gate offers more up market accommodation on a full board basis in luxury bandas. For bookings contact Volcanoes Safaris in Kampala Tel/Fax. 041 341718. The tariffs are on an all-inclusive basis including unlimited consumption of all alcoholic and soft drinks; laundry services; and any activities clients wish to do around the lodges. A complimentary massage is also offered

Below the Muhavura Ranger Station there is a basic campsite. This site is suitable for those intending to climb Mt. Muhavura. Climbing the volcano requires a 05.00am start. The campsite is a 15-minute walk up to the Ranger Station. Facilities are limited and you should be totally self-contained.

Location:
The Park, gazetted in 1991, covers an area of 33.7 km 2. Mgahinga is located in the extreme southwest corner of Uganda, which borders with D.R.Congo and Rwanda. The park includes parts of Mounts Mahavura, Mgahinga and Sabinyo. These volcanoes are part of the Virunga chain that extend into the DRC. The summit of Muhavura has a small crater lake and forms the highest point (4127m) in the park. The summit areas are dominated by wort and dwarf heath vegetation. This emerges into bamboo and broad-leaved montane forest, down the mountains. The lower slopes have high altitude savannah woodland with lots of lichens and mosses.

Mt. Gahinga & Mt. Muhavura distant
Mt. Gahinga & Mt. Muhavura volcanoes

Best Time To Visit:
As a rainforest, the park is always wet, even more so during the rains April-May and October-November.

Wildlife:
This park was home to the Nyakagezi group of the rare Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla Beringei,). This family moved into a territory in Rwanda in 2005 which saw the the cessation of Gorilla tracking activities at Mgahinga. The group does retrun to the reserve for periods of time where visitors wishing to visit this group can obtain permits only on the day of tracking. Other animals in the area include the golden monkey (endemic), giant forest hog, bushbuck and buffalo.

Details of Nyakagezi Gorilla Group - Oct 2003

 Name  Sex  Age  Identifaction details
 Bingingo - Silver back  Male  40-45 yrs  V - shaped depression on nose & silver back
 Kaboko  Female  36-38 yrs  Lame hand & old wrinkled face
 Nyiramwiza  Female  30-36 yrs  Triangular head with narrow face & silver hair
 Mark - Silver Back  Male  28-32 yrs  Wide face, very calm
 Munezero  Female  18-25 yrs  Wide face with black side burns
 Majambere - sub adult  Male  7 yrs  4th and 5th digits of right hand missing
 Female  4 yrs  Gazes at toursits & very friendly
 Mafia - sub adult  Male  8 yrs  Very playful & likes coming close to people
 Ndungutse - Juvenile  Male  7 yrs  Likes coming close to people & hanging on trees
 Baby Gorilla - Infant  Female  3 yrs  Very playful
 Baby Gorilla - Infant  -  2 yrs  Very playful

Bird Life:
The Ruwenzori Turaco to be found in the steep forests of Mt Sabinyo, and Red Tufted Malachite Sunbird to be found in the crater swamp of Mt Ga Hinga are 2 specialities for the area.

Attractions and Activities:
With only one Gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi group available to trek in Mgahinga the park has the good fortune of having 3 stunning volcano climbs that they offer visitors to the park.
Mt. Gahinga (3474m)- 5 hours trekking.
Mt. Sabinyo (3669m)- 8 hours trekking.
Mt. Muhavura (4127m)- 10 hours trekking.

Trekking Mount Sabinyo
Trekking approach to Mount Sabinyo

Each climb is most definately unique. Ga Hinga has a very large crater swamp, Sabinyo with its 5 peaks the 3rd being where Uganda/Rwanda/and the DRC all meet. Muhavura with it's 20m diameter crater lake is very steep the altitude of which makes it a very hard climb, although in no way are any of the climbs technical in any way.

Climbs of Ga Hinga and Sabinyo start at 08.00am. Climbs of Muhavura start at 05.00am. You would be well advised to be underway by these times. The weather can change rapidly on the mountains. Rain is more likely in the afternoon. The steep trails on the decent can be hazardous after heavy rain.

There are several nature walks a Dr Congo border walk and the Cave walk where opportunities to see the Golden Monkey are common.




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