Mt. Gahinga lies between Mt. Muhabura and Mt. Sabyinyo on the Uganda- Rwanda border. It is the smallest of all the Virunga volcanoes. The mountain traces its name from the Kinyarwanda / Kifumbira word “Gahinga” (a small pile of stones). It is believed that Mt. Gahinga has a swampy Caldera spanning up to 180m (591feet) width on its peak. It is also true that Mgahinga Gorilla National park derived its name from this volcano. The mountain has an elevation of 3,473 m (11,394fet). Spanning across Uganda and Rwanda, Gahinga is one of the 8 volcanic mountains that make up the massive Mufumbiro ranges.
The mountain has Afro-montane vegetation dominated by bamboo which provides homage to Mountain Gorillas and golden monkeys. Gahinga is also blessed with a big number of three-horned chameleons and birds.
CLIMBING MT. GAHINGA.
Unlike the mountains of Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Karisimbi in Volcanoes National Park, Mt. Gahinga provides an easy volcano hike. However one ought to be physically stable to complete a six hour journey that begins from Mgahinga Gorilla National park. Forget not the availability of 75$ no-prior-booking climbing permits. Both Volcanoes and Mgahinga Gorilla National parks in Rwanda and Uganda respectively provide a clear exploration of the Gahinga volcano.
Trekking to Mt. Gahinga top kicks-off at 7:00am with a brief guidance from park officials at park offices. A hiking stick of your choice can be got immediately after the briefing and maybe porter’s services are rendered depending on your wish at an affordable price. Trekking follows a number of stages where by the first is through a thick bamboo forest characterized by a glance of animal species like buffalos and primates.
The second stage is characterized by numerous volcanic caves full of bats. Your arrival to the top blesses you with extensive non-deep crater swamp full of uncommon sub-alpine flora such as Senecio, Alchemilla and Lobelia.
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN OR NEAR MOUNT. GAHINGA.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes NP-Rwanda and Mgahinga NP-Uganda goes for 1500$ and 700$ per head respectively. It has been proved beyond doubt that Mgahinga Gorilla NP is the only park with a single habituated gorilla family and that gorilla trekking is number one priority wildlife activity for tourists that make to Ugandan protected areas.
Golden Monkey Tracking.
Mgahinga NP is an outstanding place where both golden monkeys and mountain gorillas have a common place of residence. Tracking permits are available at 100$ offering you a chance of visiting 3500 (estimated number) population of golden monkeys.
Mgahinga Park provides exposure to a variety of bird species among which include the regal sunbirds, white-necked raven, speckled mouse birds, olive thrush, Rwenzori tabis, dusky turtle, etc.
Failure to visit the Batwa-pygmies renders a tour to Mgahinga NP incomplete. Missing the Batwa means missing their interaction, stories and an exploitation of their culture, tradition, etc. These are people have lived for over five hundred thousand years in forests while hunting and gathering.
ACCESS TO MT. GAHINGA.
Mt. Gahinga is located in the Kigezi southwestern region of Uganda, lasting for 8 to 9 hours of drive from Kampala city. It is reachable by both road and air. Flights to Kisoro happen from Entebbe airport and Kajjansi Airstrip to Kisoro / Kihihi airstrip.
It takes three to five hours for one to drive from Kigali through Katuna or Chanika border to Mt. Gahinga or two to three hours from Volcanoes NP in Rwanda.