Three dormant volcanoes lie at 2,227m and 4,127m above sea level. Arched into a surface area of 33.7km2, this is Mgahinga National Park, the smallest on this fertile piece of rock we call Pearl of Africa. The dominant, Sabinyo, Mgahinga, and Muhavura, lie along Uganda’s border with Congo and Rwanda and give the gorilla park a chance at boasting.
With an eruption dating over 10,000 years back, their vegetation cover envelopes four distinctive vegetation zones. These are the forest zones, bamboo zones, and alpine zones. Climbers attest to the fact that the route selection in all of Mgahinga’s mountains will knock a decade off your age.
Despite being challenging in a variety of ways, you can successfully overcome the climbs. It will be worth experience! Should you feel like you can’t climb all the three mountains however, here is a quick guide by yours truly, Solomon Oleny.
Mountain Muhavura, 4,127 Meters above sea level
Not only does Muhavura have feet in both Uganda and Rwanda, it has a scenic a crater atop its summit. Nothing short of spectacular! Even whilst on the same level as this lake, you can still see the contrast of cloud colors reflected in it. Ever the tease, you will also see tracks of mysterious nocturnal animals that come to the lake to quench their thirst.
Without a doubt, hiking Muhavura is a bucket list adventure. At no time do you feel endangered; there are no cats/big predators in the park. If not for nature, then the mountaineering guides, also passionate storytellers should get you on board. Their wealth of knowledge goes beyond knowing the wilderness, it includes all the other members of Mgahinga Kingdom, insects, mammals, birds, and trees.
Mountain Sabyinyo, 3,645M
At Sabinyo’s summit, a lifetime opportunity to be in three countries at once awaits. Like the hikers often joke, “You can have one leg in Congo, the other in Rwanda and your hands in Uganda.” See, the borders of these three tropical countries meet at its rugged summit.
On top of that, the wilderness trails here are something to experience. Therapy in itself. As soon as you leave the forest zone, the hike becomes a pure joy as it climbs into the tantalizing chiseled peaks that are surrounded by craggy rocks. It winds into tranquil swamps.
In the course of the breathtaking hike, the ranger guides will make stops regularly for environmental, historical, and cultural interpretations of the different sights and sounds.
Masters of quickly and safely, the guides are good at getting multiple climbs set up in close proximity to each other. This allows tourists more time and saves them from waiting around and moving between climbs.
Mountain Mgahinga 3,474Meters above sea level
In choosing this mountain, you get a splendid treat. Views of distant plateaus and endless vistas of mountains in Congo galore. If wildlife is what you seek, the park is home to animals like elephants. Careful though, sighting them is not guaranteed, but it does happen. That said, be rest assured to come out with picturesque encounters of astounding wild and windswept scenery.
It gets better, beyond being very experienced, the porters who are happy to tag along with you here are very protective of tourists. They will hold your hand during the exhausting parts of the climb like you are a younger brother/sister.
Take heed of the technical advice of the ranger guides, it is invaluable. Note also that they will only offer it when needed. Without intending to, this leaves tourists feeling inspired and self-sufficient. The excitement that comes from this, can’t be measured.
Carry gloves, good hiking shoes, and warm clothing. If possible, tag along with a raincoat. Mgahinga is a rainforest where it can start raining any minute.
In general, most people prefer to hike in the dry months from June to August and December to January. During this time, the park has less undergrowth, making it easier to take pictures.