Facts about Mount Gahinga
Mount Gahinga is an outstanding dormant volcano in the Virunga Mountains which are found on the borders of Uganda and Rwanda. The mount lies between Sabyinyo and Muhabura volcanoes and it is the smallest of all the three. Mount Gahinga draws its name from a local dialect “Gahinga”- a Rufumbira / Kinyarwanda meaning a “small pile of stones”. It has got a caldera which is believed to be about 180 meters wide. It is well known that Mgahinga national park also got its name from this volcano.
Mount Gahinga is part of a chain of 8 volcanic mountains of Mufumbiro (Virunga) ranges and it elevates to an altitude of 3,474 meters. These volcanic chains cross Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Mountain has afro-montane vegetation with Bamboo comprising of the main vegetation. These Bamboo forests are habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas and also got several other species apart from the mountain gorillas like the birds and other animals and also the golden monkeys are notable to these. This mountain has got so many unique activities that are carried out and include the following; golden monkey tracking, Batwa heritage experience, climbing a volcano, cultural / community encounters, hiking of the Kisozi caldera, birding and gorilla trekking tours.
One can enjoy golden monkey tracking and view one of the world’s most elusive primates; these golden monkeys are found in the foothills of the volcanic mountains of Mgahinga national park in Uganda. They are characterized by their bright golden body, cheeks and tails with black limbs, crown and the tail end. These golden monkeys are so a pleasure to watch. Whether the tourists choose to do the tracking on the Ugandan or Rwandan side, the walk will still take them from the bamboo stands and the forested gorge on the lower levers of the volcanoes and to the elevated heath and moorland higher up.
The Batwa heritage is one of the longest surviving tribes in Uganda, with one of extremely amazing culture in the world. Many tourists visit this local community in their traditional dwellings and get to learn more about how they have lived for so long and survived on the forest. These local people get to entertain visitors by dancing, singing traditional songs, by the popular Batwa dance group.
Guests on their safaris staying in surrounding lodges like Gahinga or Virunga lodge have got the easiest access to the Virunga chain of volcanoes and this offers stunning panoramas and challenging hikes. The mountain is very difficult to hike and typically takes a full day. The hiking starts at 7:00am from the park headquarters; visitors can choose to drive to the base of volcano or undertake a nature walk.
Hiking of the Kisozi caldera is a moderate hike to top of the small hill where the caldera sweeps from corner to corner. This caldera is formed by the volcanic eruptions and so many stunning landscape of this volcanic region.
Gorilla trekking is an exclusive experience and for one to trek, one must have a gorilla tracking permit that offers them one hour of physical interface with mountain gorillas. These permits are booked from Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Boarding Uganda and Rwanda respectively. The fee paid also covers the cost of park entrance and guiding. Tourists can book gorilla permits directly by contacting the bodies above, or through tour operators and travel agents.
Only 8 visitors are aged fifteen years and above are permitted to track a particular gorilla group per day. The visitors set off very early in the morning and return by midday. The tracking can be so strenuous or sometimes easy depending on the location of these great apes.Their movements are monitored daily by rangers, so chances of viewing them are usually up to 95% on any given day.