Tourist Safari Attractions in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga national park is a second ground in Uganda after Bwindi Impenetrable National Pak where populations of Mountain gorillas can be traced. The dense forest cover and rich undergrowth that characterize the slopes of the volcanic highland present a fertile ground for existence of mountain gorillas which is one of the great attractions to be encountered while on safari in Uganda.
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family
The Nyakagyezi gorilla family comprises of 10 members with 1 silverback and is the only gorilla family that exists in Mgahinga National Park. The gorilla group is led by silverback Mark who at times takes the family to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla family has however tried to settle on the Ugandan side since November, 2012. It is an impressive encounter to track gorillas in the volcanic highlands.
Kisoro district is one of the heavily populated districts with great counts of Bafumbira and the minority Batwa. The Bafumbira people are farmers and practice crop cultivation while the Batwa thrived in the forest of Mgahinga before they were evicted during the process of gazetting Mgahinga National Park. These people have got rich traditions that are very interesting to encounter while on Uganda safari. The Batwa draw much attachment to the forest and have got rich heritage that can be explored in the forest including the ancient Garama cave, their modes of survival among others.
Mgahinga national park contains three volcanic ranges with all their peaks in the park including; Muhabura (4127m), Sabyinyo (3669m) and Gahinga (3474m). The three volcanoes derive their names from the local dialects i.e. Muhabura means a guide meaning that its glowing cone was used as directing point in the traditional Africa; the Sabyinyo means Old man’s teeth which it gets from its rugged peaks that were shaped by forces of denudation while Gahinga means pile of stones. The three volcanoes offer impressive scenic views as they continue to adjoin their fellows in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Mgahinga National Park has 115 species of birds among which include; Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Dusky Turtle Dove, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-starred Robin, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Equatorial Akalat, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Kivu Ground Thrush, Banded Prinia, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Grauer’s Warbler, Collared Apalis, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Mountain Masked Apalis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Strip-breasted Tit, Blue-headed Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Regal Sunbird, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Montane Oriole, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Strange Weaver, Shelley’s Crimsonwing and Dusky Crimsonwing among other bird species.
Apart from Mountain gorillas, Mgahinga National Park also has a range of other wildlife that can be encountered in Uganda safaris. These wildlife species include; golden monkeys, golden cats, giant forest hog, side-stripped jackals, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, elephants, bush pigs among other wildlife. This wildlife is however not easily seen.
Since the park comprises of volcanic highlands, it has got a range of vegetation zones that mark different altitude levels. The lower layers are covered by grass and bush that is regenerating after encroachment by the locals; this is followed by layers of montane woodland, Bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone that contain giant tree heathers. The Alpine zone is dotted with giant forms of Lobelia and groundsel like in any other altitudinal areas in East Africa that are above 3,000m