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Mgahinga National Park which was formerly a game reserve with its lower altitudes being used crop fields was later gazzetted in 1991 as a national park. In addition to gorilla trekking, Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga National Park is also a popular tourist activity.

Well known as the smallest national park in Uganda covering 13.1sqms, mgahinga is located in the south western Uganda in the virunga mountains and composes of the three inactive volcanoes namely Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo.

Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga National Park

The park is bordered to the south by the volcanoes national park of Rwanda and to the west by the Virunga National Park of DRC.

Mgahinga is part of the larger Virunga Conservation area that spreads allover three countries and each country protects its portion of the virungas. The virungas are ahome to alarge variety wildlife including about half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, three of the virunga volcanoes, different species of birds, unique flora and fauna.

ACCESS;

  • Kampala-kisoro is 482km {about 8hours drive}
  • Kabale-kisoro is 78km {about 2hours drive}
  • Kisoro town –mgahinga NP is 15km
  • From ebb airport- nyakabande airstrip is 1:15min
  • Regular buses take 8-9hours drive from kla-kisoro

Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga National Park;

The golden monkey is one type of primate that is characterized by its orange-gold body, cheeks and tail contrasting with its black limbs, crown and tail end. The beautiful special monkey used to be common in Rwanda’s Gishwati forest reserve most of which was later destroyed by the returned refugees during the aftermath of 1994 genocide, however a small population is said to have remained in nyungwe forest national park

There is an estimate of 3000-4000 population of golden monkeys in mgahinga national park. These endangered primates share a home with the world’s famous mountain gorillas, forest elephants, buffalos, birds and other types of mammals.

Unlike gorillas, golden monkeys are small, do not make nests thus leave little or no evidence of their presence, they run from trees to trees and they rarely get along with human beings and this makes their tracking difficult.

They do not maintain similar daily routines, each day is different in their daily lives. They themselves dictate on how the day is going to be, there are regular challenges while tracking them and this makes the experience more exciting.

The weather matters a lot, strong winds  makes it easier to track them as they take cover under the canopy the same applies to when it rains they take shelter and barely move and this may give you a close view.

The golden monkey trekking starts at 8am in the morning with introduction and briefing at the briefing center and then spread into the forest using the gahinga trail. You will definitely feel their presence as the forest becomes livelier with them jumping over you and all their engagements will amaze you.

The golden monkey trekking is done for one hour, if you want to stay longer you opt for golden monkey habituation that usually takes 4 hours with researchers and trackers.

There are pre trackers who do monitoring before the actual trek is done whilst trackers will not be able to locate them, their duty is basically keeping around them and communicate with the lead guide.

WHAT TO YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • A golden monkey tracking permit costs USD 50 for non-foreign residents
  • East African residents’ permit costs 20000shs
  • Habituation process costs USD 100 for foreigners and 100000shs for nationals
  • Age limit for tracking is 12 years and above
  • Be at the briefing center at least by 7:00am
  • You can hire a porter in case you have heavy luggage
  • Carry binoculars in case you enjoy birding
  • Wear hiking boots
  • Wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts
  • Carry a snack and bottle of water
  • You may need a rain jacket 

OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN MGAHINGA NP

  1. Virunga volcanoes; mgahinga NP is naturally gifted with the 3 sets of the volcanoes which are actually a dream for every traveler especially the hiking lovers, these great ranges are simply a beauty to look at. Hiking these volcanoes is one of the major highlights of the park.
  • Mount muhabura{4127m} well known as the guide since it seen from all over kisoro, it is cone shaped and provides best views and has got a crater lake on top. The hike takes 8 hours round trip[12km]
  • Mount Gahinga {3474m}. Gahinga means a pile of stones, this sits next to muhabura and has got a crater swamp on top. The hike takes 6 hours round trip[8km]
  • Mount sabinyo {366m} loosely translated as old man’s teeth. This volcano has 3 peaks on top, when you cover them all you will be in 3 countries of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC at the same time. The hike takes 8 hours round trip [14km
  1. Mountain gorillas; mountain gorillas compose the main attraction of mgahinga national park, the gorilla beringei beringei live in forests high in the mountains and hills at approximate elevations of 8000 to 13000 feet above sea level. There are other gorilla groups of virunga massive that normally come around and take a temporary residence for some months however habituated nyakagezi family which consists of 9 members is a permanent resident of mgahinga.
  2. Batwa trail; the batwa formerly lived in forests, they were the original inhabitants of the forests before mgahinga and bwindi national parks were gazette. The batwa trail starts from the base of muhavura cave and the walk is basically a living museum, the batwa guides are usually provided and these may take you through their past and present life after their eviction from the parks. Stakeholders like mount gahinga lodge put upa new home near the buffalo wall.
  3. Bird watching;mgahinga is an ideal place for bird watching. Different species of birds throng the forests and can easily be seen even when not on a planned trip.
  4. Garama cave; the garama cave stretches as far as 342m and lies at the northern edge of the park 3km from Ntebeko. The batwa mainly used this cave for retreat and a council chamber.

 ACCOMMODATION;

  • Mount Gahinga Lodge
  • Travelers rest hotel
  • Ikoro hotel
  • Countryside hotel
  • Golden monkey guest house
  • Amajambere hotel
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