Mgahinga National Park’s slopes are covered with a series of distinct altitudinal bands of vegetation. The lowest zone is an area of grass and bush which was formerly encroached and cleared by farmers and is now regenerating. Undisturbed vegetation starts with montane woodland, followed by the bamboo zone, montane forest and the Ericaceous zone which contains giant tree heathers. The sequence culminates with the spectacular alpine zone which occurs only on East African mountains above 3000m and includes bizarre giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.
The park has at least 39 species of mammal and 79 birds. Larger mammals include elephant, leopard, buffalo and bush pig but these are rarely seen. Mgahinga’s most famous resident is the mountain gorilla that live within the forest. Less famous but equally rare and deserving of protection is the golden monkey which is found only in the Virungas and in one other forest in Rwanda. Notable bird species include the Rwenzori turaco, crowned hornbill, black kite and crowned crane.
Important Wildlife in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- Golden Monkeys
- Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas live only in the natural environment, and in Africa, they can be seen in Mgahinga National Park and others survive in Bwindi, Volcanoes and Virunga National Parks. Gorilla trekking is the key experience that attracts several of travelers worldwide to spend a holiday in Mgahinga National Park.
At Mgahinga, there is only one habituated family which is trekked by a maximum of eight visitors each day. That is Nyakagezi gorilla family, a group under Mark silverback leadership. Like Bwindi gorilla trekking, permits for Mgahinga NP are obtainable at US$700 per person per day –for foreign nonresidents and USD 600 for foreign residents while East African citizen are issued permits at UGX 250,000 per person.
Golden monkeys are stunning primates, unique to the Albertine rift and Virunga Area of Africa. Mgahinga NP has habituated troops that can be visited on golden monkey tracking/trekking adventures. A single golden monkey permit for foreign nonresidents cost USD60 per person, and this also applies to the foreign residents while Ugandans/East African citizens pay UGX 40,000. Like mountain gorilla permits, golden monkey permits can also be booked via a ground tour operator whom you will be planning your entire Uganda safari.
The bird species to expect to look out for include white napped raven, yellow-vented bulbul, stone chat, pin-tailed whydahs, paradise flycatchers, fire-finch, black kite, Rwenzori turacos, double collared sunbird, blue headed coucal, grey capped warblers, Rwenzori nightjars, paradise flycatchers, alpine chat, waxbill,
Other bird species of Mgahinga National Park include scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, dusky crimson wing, archer’s robin chat, African olive pigeon, olive woodpeckers, moorland chat, alpine swift, red faced woodland warblers, black capped apalis, common bulbul, bronze sunbird, regal sunbird, Doherty’s bush shrike, white necked raven, brown crowned tchagra, cape robin chat, lagden’s bush shrikes,
Buff spotted fluff tail, African hill babblers, malachite sunbirds, yellow-billed kite, hadada ibis, banded prinia, Chubb’s cisticolas, streaky seedeaters, to mention but a few.
Bird watching in Mgahinga can be done at any time of the year, as an independent activity or combined with gorilla trekking/golden monkey tracking. However, the best months to enjoy birding expeditions is from April till Mid-May, then October to November.