Park at a Glance Size: 33.7km2, making it Uganda’s smallest National Park. The park takes its name from “Gahinga” – the local word for the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes. The British administration declared the area a game sanctuary in 1930; it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991. Mgahinga has one habituated trans-boundary gorilla group.
The Batwa were self-sufficient – and visitors can see how during a fascinating tour with a Batwa guide to learn the secrets of the forest. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled. Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda.
Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.