Comparing gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi National Park. Mountain gorillas are found in two national parks in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both national parks are home to more than half of the remaining 900+ mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the gorilla population is in Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
In terms of size, Bwindi National Park covers a vast area of 331sq km compared to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is only 33sq km. Bwindi National Park is very diverse, with hundreds of species of animals, plants, and mammals. Bwindi is a habitat for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, geckos, and various species of birds.
Mgahinga, on the other hand, is the only national park in Uganda where golden monkeys and mountain gorillas live in harmony with nature. This harmonious relationship between mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is why it is referred to as “Mgahinga where gold meets silver.”
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park covering only 33 square kilometers. Launched as a national park in 1991, Mgahinga is part of the Greater Virunga – a vibrant tropical forest cover that stretches between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is known for its dynamic vegetation cover of the bamboo forest, Afromontane and alpine vegetation.
Mgahinga also settles on a high elevation with three mountains forming the backbone of the park. These are Mt. Muhavura (4,127 meters), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 meters), and Mt. Sabyinyo (3,645 meters).
The three volcanoes provide an unforgettable hiking experience in Uganda. At the top of the three volcanoes, you get the most stunning views you would rarely find in other places in East Africa. Many people have seen the third peak of Mt. Sabyinyo to be sacred as you step in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the same moment.
There are more than 15 habituated gorilla families that are open for trekking in Uganda. Out of the 15 gorilla groups, one gorilla family is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The rest of the gorilla groups are found in Bwindi National Park, spread across the northern sector of Buhoma, Eastern gate of Ruhija, and the southern sector of Rushaga and Nkuringo.
The tracking experience in both Mgahinga and Bwindi parks is not any different. In both Bwindi and Mgahinga, gorilla tracking starts with a briefing from an Uganda Wildlife Authority official on what to expect once you are in the forest. The tracking journey could take a few hours or many depending on how deep the gorillas are in the woods. The only difference in the tracking experience is that in Mgahinga, you know outright there is only one gorilla family, whereas, in Bwindi, the tourists are less likely to see the family to track until at the park briefing point on the tracking day.