Hiking Mount Gahinga

Hiking Mount Gahinga is one of the top activities done by travelers when they visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south western Uganda. Mount Mgahinga is one of the dormant volcanic mountains situated in Virunga ranges that is shared by three countries of that is Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mount Gahinga is the smallest and easiest mountain to hike amongst all the mountains situated between mount Sabyinyo and mount Muhabura within Kisoro district where Mgahinga gorilla national park is situated. The mountain is filled with piles of small stones which is the origin of the name Gahinga which is referred to as small stones

Mount Gahinga is the easiest mountain to climb as compared to mount Sabinyo and Muhavura both in the same mountain ranges which take about 6 hours to hike up to the top and return 

Mount Gahinga is elevated at a height of 3,474 m high above the sea level shared between Rwanda in Volcanoes national park and Uganda in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Most people interested in hiking mount Gahinga can use the Ugandan side or the Rwandan side depending on the location of the hikers and tastes and preferences. During the hiking, hikers have an opportunity of encountering different primate species at the base of the mountain and along the slopes. Some of the primates encountered include golden Monkeys, mountain gorillas, blue monkeys, baboons, and Vervet monkeys, like black and white Colobus monkeys. There are also some mammals which include Leopards, elephants, antelopes, hyenas, warthogs, buffaloes, and several bird species which include, bronze sunbirds, dusky turtle dove,  olive woodpeckers, double collared sunbirds, Rwenzori batis, the speckled mousebird, olive pigeons, paradise flycatchers, olive thrush, regal sunbirds and many more all found in the bamboo along the mountain slopes 

Important to note and requirements for hiking mount Gahinga

Mount Gahinga hikes commences at exactly 7:00 am so all hikers have to be at the office for a briefing regarding the hiking trails, all the relevant information about the park which include the mountains with in Virunga mountain ranges,  the formation of the volcanic mountains, the wildlife to encounter during the hike, and ranger allocation before the hike starts.

Mountain Hiking is a tiring adventure that requires proper preparations in advance in order to enjoy the experience. Here are some of the major things to consider for an awesome hiking experience and they include;

Physical fitness: For any hiking activity, it requires that a hiker be fit both physically and mentally since it requires really longer trails and a lot of energy to reach the top. However, sloping down is very easy as it involves sliding filled with fun and laughter 

Hiking permit: Currently a permit to hike mount Gahinga goes for $75 per person and it is important to book it in advance plier to the hike

Good hiking attire: This attire include light hiking shoes easy to climb up, both light and warm attire. The light clothes help in climbing due to heat over the horizon while the warm sweater is appropriate as you might need it while at the top of the mountain since the higher you go, the cooler it becomes. So appropriate attire will enable the hiker to fit in any weather condition. Do not forget to pack a cap, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect the body from direct heat 

Hiking stick: these are always provided at the head office on the hiking day. But some hiker can decide to pack their own hiking sticks 

 A porter: it is always crucial to hire a porter at the office before starting the hike. Porters are very important not only for carrying the backpack but also to offer a pull or a push where need be and trust me you will thank God for their presence 

Enough drinking water is very essential for hikers to avoid dehydration during the climb 

Other activities in Mgahinga gorilla national park

Apart from hiking mount Gahinga, there are other park activities which can be enjoyed by Travers in Mgahinga gorilla national park and they include;

Gorilla trekking: Mgahinga national park is home to one and only Nyakagezi Gorilla family which can be trekked all year round and the gorilla trekking permit goes for $600 per permit allowing a trekker only one hour in presence of the mighty mountain gorilla.

Golden monkey trekking: the only place to trek the beautiful golden monkeys in Uganda is none other than Mgahinga gorilla national park which has troops of habituated golden monkeys that are easily seen playing cheerfully with in the bamboo trees eating shoots. Golden monkey trekking is done at a fee of $50 per permit that is half of the habituation permit which goes for $100

Batwa trails: for visitors interested in learning a whole lot of things about the lifestyle of the Batwa people and even trail in the forest with the Batwa guide exploring all the places in the forests where they Batwa inhabited before they were evacuated 

Getting there 

Hiking mount Gahinga requires traveling to Mgahinga gorilla national park in Kisoro district and then drive to the park head offices for a briefing about the hiking information. The park can be accessed either by road or by flight 

By road:  Visitor can land on Entebbe International airport, and then drive to Kisoro which takes about 9-11 hours’ drive depending on the stopovers along the way. However, hikers can opt for a shorter distance by landing into Kigali Rwanda and then cross the border into Kisoro district Uganda which is a 2-3 hours’ drive depending on the stopovers.

Hiking Mount Gahinga
Hiking Mount Gahinga

The park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park which is about 3-4 hours’ drive and from Lake Mburo national park which takes about 5-6 hours’ drive

By air: Aero link offers charter a flight from Entebbe to Kisoro which takes about one hour and ten minutes in space and then connect by road to the park 

Accommodation facilities in Mgahinga 

Hikers have several accommodation facilities within close vicinity with mount Mgahinga where they can sleep the day before hiking and after hiking to relax from the daily stress. These accommodations range from budget, midrange, and luxury facilities. Some of these accommodations include Murehe safari lodge, Gahinga lodge, travelers rest hotel, golden monkey guest house, Amajambere Iwacu community camp, Bambou Gorilla lodge , Mountain gorilla nest lodge, and Kisoro tourist hotel.

Conclusion: Mountain hiking is such a fascinating and yet tiring activity but at the end of the day when you pop at the top you will have a glance at the entire park below and enjoy the cool breath from the valleys while sighting out several wildlife that exists in the mountain.