Mount Gahinga National Park derived its name from the dormant volcanic mountain which lies on the Uganda-Rwanda border between Sabinyo and Muhavura mountains and rises up to 3,474 meters. Gahinga is a local Kinyarwanda/Rufumbira word which means “a small pile of stones cleared from farmland at the foot of the volcanoes” on the peak of Mount Gahinga is a swampy caldera which is believed to be 180meters wide.
Mount Gahinga National park is mainly covered by Afro-montane vegetation with bamboo forests which are a habitat to the critically endangered mountain gorillas which are the main attraction within Munt Gahinga National Park.
There are also other species of mammals and birds which form part of park’s ecosystem, most notably the golden monkeys.
A hike to mount Gahinga traverses the bamboo forest to a lush swamp overlooking the crater at the summit. It takes about 6 hours for a round trip from Ntebeko.
Mount Gahinga National Park is located in Kisoro district in western part of Uganda. It is Uganda’s smallest National parks at an area of 33.7squarekilometers. Mt Gahinga National Park was gazetted in 1991 mainly to protect the endangered Mount gorillas which roam freely in the Virunga region. It is bordered by volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mgahinga National Park has got one habituated Mount gorilla family which is available for tracking. Tourists can also visit the Batwa which is one of the minority and less know tribes of the people of Uganda, the most fascinating is when this visit is guided by the Batwa guide to learn the top secrets of the forest.
Mgahinga National park happens to be part of the Virunga Massif where a total of over 480 mountain gorillas are thriving from. The Park settles high at an altitude between 2,227m and 4,127m. The dense forests of this park are also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkeys. This brings out the meaning (Mgahinga National Park “where gold meets Silver”). Mgahinga National park also has a cultural significance for the indigenous Batwa who lived in this dense forest as hunters and gatherers until recently when they were evicted to conserve the Mountain gorillas.