For those who love climbing/hiking here is another amazing hiking destination in Uganda, Mount Gahinga is located in Mgahinga gorilla national park in Kisoro district and it is one of the eight volcanoes found within the Virunga ranges which are shared by three countries – Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mount Gahinga volcano is 3,474m tall and located in Kisoro District close to the borders of Uganda and Rwanda. Gahinga Mountain is also found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is home to two other volcanoes namely Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabinyo so mount Gahinga just lies in between Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabinyo and it is the smallest among the three.
In the local language (Rufumbira) the name “Gahinga” means a small pile of stones, mount Gahinga volcano has a caldera of 180m wide, Mt Gahinga’s slopes contain mostly bamboo and many other different kinds of vegetation and mostly the bamboo used is food to primates which are found in Mgahinga gorilla National Park which includes mountain gorillas, golden Monkeys, blue monkeys, Vervet monkeys, baboons, black and white Colobus monkeys among other primates that are found in Mgahinga
Among the tree volcanoes in Mghinga gorilla national park, Mt Gahinga is the smallest and easy to hike if you compare with Mt Sabinyo and Mt Muhabura, but still, you must have a good level of fitness and also mentally prepared in order to enjoy the hike because hiking to the summit and back from Mt Gahinga takes about 6 hours but all this will depend on your fitness and determination.
Yes, everyone who is interested in hiking Mt Gahinga needs to first get a hiking permit which can be booked through local tour operators like us or book directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority head offices in Kampala or at the offices in Kisoro town. Mt Gahinga hiking permit cost $80 per person per hike.
Actually, you do not need to book in advance for hiking Gahinga, you can easily book your hiking permit a day before hiking or on the same day just before going for the briefing which starts at 7:00 am at the park headquarters, at the briefing park Rangers share briefs you and share information and other facts about the park and the mountain. After going through all the briefings then you will be given a free hiking stick and if want to hire a porter to carry your bag this is the time to get one.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Gahinga is quite different from hiking to Mt Sabinyo and Mt Muhabura because of its unique summit, when you hike to the summit of Mt Gahinga you find a big crater swamp at the top with different types of plants like Alchemilla, Lobelia, and thrive Senecio, Mt Gahinga summit offers you amazing views where you will be able to see all those other volcanoes in the Virunga ranges and on a clear day you can as well see Rwenzori mountains in the distance.
Golden Monkey Tracking in Mgahinga: This is one of the main tourist activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park, Golden monkeys are one of the most beautiful primates you can ever want to trek, golden monkeys are endangered and they can only be found in three East Africa countries which is Uganda, Rwanda, and DR-Congo but currently only Uganda and Rwanda they the one with habituated troops/groups that are open for tourism in Volcanoes national park of Rwanda and in Mgahinga National Park of Uganda.
Mgahinga gorilla national park has the biggest population of golden monkeys recorded in the world, currently, Mgahinga is a home to over 3.500 Golden Monkeys leaving on the slopes of Mt Sabinyo and Mt Gahinga, there are two habituated troops that can be visited by tourists and other visitors daily throughout the year.
Also, Mgahinga national park is the only place in the world where tourists can get a chance to participate in the Golden monkey habituation process so here travelers have a choice to go for the golden monkey habituation experience or normal tracking, golden monkey habituation experience gives tourists the opportunity to study the primates for 4 hours under the guidance of researchers and well-experienced rangers/trackers. Golden monkey’s habituation permit cost $100 per person while a normal tracking permit costs $80 per person
Birding Watching in Mgahinga: This park is home to 180 species of birds with 12 of them are endemic to the dense forests at the foot of Mount Gahinga and the other volcanoes in the Virunga mountain range, different birds species can easily be spotted in the bamboo forest and also along the gorge between Mount Sabinyo and Mt Gahinga.
Among the bird species in Mgahinga National Park includes dusky turtle dove, alpine chat, double collared sunbirds, black kites, the blue-headed coucal, bronze sunbirds, paradise flycatchers, olive pigeons, olive thrush, olive woodpeckers, pin-tailed whydah, regal sunbirds, Rwenzori batis, the speckled mouse bird, stray seedeaters and the white-necked raven and many more the list is endless.
Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Mgahinga: apart from Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is another gorilla tracking destination in Uganda, Uganda is the only country with 2 national parks where you can see mountain gorillas. Mgahinga has only one habituated gorilla family that is open for tourism, this gorilla family is a very interesting one because it has 3 Silverbacks living together in one family which is not common among mountain gorilla families. Gorilla tracking in Mgahinga costs $700 per person for one hour with those endangered apes
Nature walks in Mgahinga: This is one of the places in Uganda where tourists and other visitors can get closer to nature, nature walks can be arranged in Mgahinga National Park at any day any time taking you through the bamboo forests, swamps, and surrounding communities, one can as well connect to Lake Mutanda walking on foot which is an amazing experience, on this nature walk you have a chance to interact with the local communities living at the edge Mgahinga national park, seeing different types of wild vegetation with breathtaking sceneries.
Cultural Experience in Mgahinga: This park is one of Uganda’s less visited national parks yet it has a lot to offer to visitors, one of the cultural experiences you can go after Mount Gahinga hiking in Kisoro is visiting the Batwa people (Pygmies) which is one of the most interesting cultural encounters in Uganda.
Batwa lived as hunters in Mgahinga National Park for over 450,000 years before they were evicted by the Uganda government in order to protect the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and many other wildlife animals in Mgahinga national park, Batwa (pygmies) still have problems adapting to normal life outside the park (forests) like other locals people, on the activity of cultural experience you get the opportunity to know more about their life outside the forest and when you participating in the Batwa Trail and cultural experience you be contributing to the wellbeing directly and also this activity guided and led by the Batwa themselves which is an amazing feeling being guided by one of Africa’s most interesting indigenous tribes as they show you their traditional dances, tell you old stories of forest life and also make drama for you.
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