Mgahinga Gorilla Family (Nyakagezi)
Uganda has 2 national parks where tourists can track mountain gorillas, many people think that gorillas in Uganda can only be seen in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is also another park where gorilla tracking activity can be done.
Mgahinga National park is located in south western Uganda in Kisoro district just in the renowned slopes of the three Virunga Volcanoes that includes the Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga. It is the smallest forested National Park covering an area of 33.7 square kilometers as well 3370 hectares. Mgahinga is one of Uganda’s homes for the endangered mountain Gorillas. It hosts just one Uganda gorilla family – the Nyakagezi group. Few visitors go to Mgahinga for gorilla tours despite having one of the largest gorilla families anywhere around. Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the best place to go for Gorilla trekking experience. It offers visitors a great opportunity to track the rare mountain gorillas in the wild.
The Nyakagezi gorilla family gets its name from a place called Nyakagezi in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (MGNP) where there is a lot of sumptuous food attractive to the gorillas. Nyakagezi family is one of the easiest to track given the fact that it prefers a narrow home range for feeding, nesting, relaxing and recreation. It consists of 10 members with 1 Silverback called Mark who dominates the daily activities of the family. It was famous for their migratory behavior across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. However, this gorilla group has today settled in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda where tourists are assured of trekking them.
Since 2012 the gorilla family has been settled within the Mgahinga National Park and the success rate to see these great apes stands at over 95% chances. Due to their mobile and unpredictable behavior, gorilla permits for Nyakagezi group have to be booked at the Uganda Wildlife Authority Park headquarters in Ntebeko and it is always important to first confirm within 24 hours to ascertain whether they are within the Park or have crossed to other countries. Now it is easier to track this gorilla group because they have a permanent settlement compared to the past when they never settled. A great number of tourists are now visiting the Park to track this interesting group.
The activity can only be done by persons above the age of 15 years. It starts early in the morning after breakfast at 7:00 am with a briefing by an UWA ranger guide. After you will hike into the thick forest in search for the giant creatures. It will take you some minutes or hours hiking you will meet the gorillas this is the most anticipated moment but however much you prepare for it, viewing them in their natural habitants leaves you astonished and amazed. In the moment of excitement on encountering the gorillas, the trekkers are advised to keep a reasonable distance to avoid any punch or drive down the rough trees by the gorillas. Tourists spend 1 hour with the gorillas and take photographs however, they are cautioned not to use flash photography because the light can irritate the animals forcing them to attack. A lot of unnecessary noise is prohibited while with the gorillas, avoid imitating the creatures as well as keeping a reasonable distance. After the trek, participants are awarded certificates.
Visiting the Nyakagezi gorilla group shouldn’t be an experience that is centered on mountain gorillas but also an excitement that is built around the most incredible three Virunga volcano summits, the gorge and then the magnificent flora. Besides tracking the Nyakagezi group, tourists can engage in Golden Monkey tracking because this is the only Park in Uganda where Silver meets Gold, birding, mountain climbing, visiting Garama caves, the interesting Batwa trail (that takes you through the life of the “People of the Forest” who were hunters-gatherers), Birding and mountain hiking to Mt Sabyinyo, Mt Muhavura and Mgahinga.
Tracking the mountain gorillas at Nyakagezi gorilla group has no worries since there are lodging facilities. Some of the comfortable lodging facilities around the park to enable your experience in Nyakagezi gorilla family include Mount Gahinga Lodge and Mutanda Lake Resort.
Other nearby attractions include: Lake Mulehe, Echuya Forest, Lake Chahafi, Lake Mutanda, Garama Caves.
While at Mgahinga Gorilla national park, accommodation should be the least of your worries because there are various lodges suitable for relaxation and overnight. These are found in Ntebeko, Kisoro and Lake Mutanda. Such as Mt Gahinga Lodge, Amakoro Songa Lodge, Da vinci gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Solution Lodge…..