Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The Rwenzori Mountains are, also known as the Mountains of the Moon, are located in western Uganda along the Uganda-DR Congo border. Rwenzori is a local Rukonzo name that means Rain Maker, and this is due to the all-time clouds on the mountain; you can also call it the Cloud King.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park spans 995 square kilometers in size and was gazetted in 1991, followed by its recognition as a World Heritage Site in 1994. Lying at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, Rwenzori has six distinct mountains; Mt Stanley (5109m), Speke (4890m), Baker (4843m), Emin (4797m), Gessi (4715m), and Luigi da Savoia (4627m), each of which has its peak. Margherita Peak of Mt Stanley is the highest peak at 5109 meters. Though Rwenzori is the third highest point in Africa after Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya, it is the highest Mountain Range in Africa.
After Explorer Henry Stanley’s visit in 1888, the Rwenzori became popular and now a mountaineering adventure destination with opportunities of hiking to the snow peaks; how strange to find snow right at the Equator!
Hiking the Rwenzoris is through various trials, including the central Circuit, Bukurungu Trail, Nyakalengija Trail, Kilembe Trail, and the Kazingo Trail, all starting from different directions and to different trails. Some of these trials are long, taking 7-9 days to the peaks, while others are short 1 or 2 days’ scenic experience trails.
Apart from Hiking and mountaineering, nature/forest walks and birding are popular activities in the park as Rwenzori has 18 mammal species, 217 bird species, 9 species of reptiles, and 6 species of amphibians. According to Uganda Wildlife Authority, Large mammals, including elephants, buffalo, giant forest hogs, bushbuck, chimpanzees, and leopards, are present in the forest zone but are rarely seen. Though elephant droppings are frequently found, chimpanzees heard sounds while blue monkeys and the endemic Rwenzori colobus may be sighted.
Snow-fed lakes and Rivers, in addition to distinctive altitudinal vegetation zones, make Rwenzori National park outstanding; montane forest, bamboo, tree heathers, and afro-alpine vegetation. With its giant symbolic forms of Senecio (groundsel) and lobelia, the latter is one of the world’s rarest botanical communities, limited to East African mountains above 3800m.
When to Visit Mt Rwenzori?
Rwenzori Mountains’ climate is cold and highly wet with heavy rainfall sometimes up to 300mm per month during March-May and August- December, though it is common to rain in some days, even in the drier months. Daytime temperatures average is 10OC and drops at night even below freezing.
It is best to visit or climb Mountain Rwenzori during the drier months of January to early February and June to July.
How to Get there
By Road, Rwenzori mountains National Park is located about 370 kilometers and 7 hours’ drive away from Kampala, the Capital, accessed through Fort portal and Kasese towns. Much as public transport is available along these routes from Kampala, private tourist transport is the most convenient and comfortable recommended for your travel.
By Air, Daily commercial flights are available from and back to Entebbe with Aerolink Uganda; contact us, and we advise further or help plan your travel!
What to Bring?
To Hike the Rwenzoris, you will need the following essential equipment; sleeping bag, camping mat, warm clothing, gloves, rain gear including good waterproof trousers, head-mount torch, enough plastic bags to keep fresh clothes dry and to separate wet and muddy garments), energy snacks and any necessary medication. Hiking boots are required on the peaks, yet you can use gumboots on other days. Specialist gear for climbing the mountains can be hired from the trail operator.
Accommodation For Rwenzori Hiking
There are basic camps under concession with basic tents with wooden sleeping platforms at various huts along the trails; you will need your sleeping bag and mat.
Hotels in Kasese town quickly serve the Kilembe and Nyakalengija Trailheads; at Kilembe, a budget RTS hostel is a good starting point for this trail. At Nyakalengija is, there are various community budget lodges, including; Rubon Community Camp, Rwenzori Homestay, Rwenzori Turaco View campsite, and a high-end Equator Snow Lodge.
Equator Snow Lodge, by Geo Lodges, is the only high-end Lodge located at the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori, on the bank of river Mobuku, just where the road ends and the mountain starts! The Lodge has a total of 16 comfortable beds in stone and wood-made cabins spacious enough for your relaxation.
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