Mgahinga Gorilla National Park protects the Ugandan slopes of the majestic Virungas, a range of freestanding volcanoes that rises to a maximum altitude of 4,507m/14,787ft on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is an alternative destination to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for mountain gorilla trekking. Other attractions include hikes to the summit of three of the park’s volcanic peaks and golden monkey trekking.
As indicated by its name, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – protecting the Uganda portion of the Virunga Mountains, on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – is best known for the opportunity to track its habituated mountain gorillas.
For years, this was a rather unreliable prospect, as the habituated group regularly crossed into Rwanda, sometimes for months on end. However, although operators remain unwilling to take tourists here, the habituated group has actually remained within the boundaries of Uganda since 2013, which makes this a good place to try for a last-minute permit when Bwindi is booked solid.
Another good reason to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, in my view, is the stirring setting provided by the Virunga Mountains, a chain of six massive volcanoes, some still active, that rise to elevations of up to 4,507m. Activities on offer include (demanding) hikes to those peaks that fall within Uganda, and tracking expeditions in search of the golden monkey, a delightful Virunga endemic that feeds mainly on bamboo. Other wildlife includes elephant, leopard, buffalo, black-and-white colobus monkey and at least 12 bird species endemics to the Albertine Rift.