Popularly known as the mountains of the moon, Mt.Rwenzori is situated in western Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is characterized by equatorial snow peaks which mark the highest point in Uganda. In addition, the lower slopes are covered by moorland, bamboo, rich, moist montane forest, broad tree-heathers and colorful mosses draped across the mountainside engrossed with giant flowered lobelias that turn one’s day bright and memorable.
A length of 120 kilometers and width of 65 kilometers of the Rwenzori mountains is covered by Rwenzori mountains NP having 70 mammals and 217 birds under its custody. It also provides homage to nineteen Albertine Rift endemics and vegetation that is less common all over the world.
Mt.Rwenzori; the home of hiking rewards visitors with a nine to ten- day trek (for professional climbers) to reach Margherita (the uppermost peak). Non-professional climbers can as well scale the surrounding peaks. Natives of the mountain (the Bakonzo) offer the visitors with delicious local cuisines and great cultural performances.
Comprising the major part of the Rwenzori mountain chain, Mt.Rwenzori NP covers almost 100,00ha inclusive of Margherita (Africa’s third highest peak; 5,109 m). Glaciers, lakes and waterfalls add it on Africa’s most beautiful alpine areas list. Full of natural homes of endangered fauna and rare flora composed of, but not limited to the giant heather.
The one and only Mountains of the moon, almost four thousand meters above the Albertine Rift Valley is visible from further distances. Blessed with a special landscape of alpine vegetation, supernatural broad lobelias, groundsels, and heathers baptized “Africa’s botanical big game”. The beauty of the area is a true reflection of the V-shaped valleys, gigantic waterfalls, clear blue lakes, fast-flowing rivers, glaciers and the snow-caped peaks.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
The park was established in 1991 located in western Uganda covering 1,000 square kilometers in Kasese district over four hundred kilometers from Kampala. Visiting permits go for 30$ a day.
Much as numerous visitors pay much of their attention to mountain trekking which is an extraordinary experience, an allure of walking in the remote region with a sparse population is an encounter worth not missing.
Trekking Mt. Rwenzori.
Mt. Rwenzori has a lot on the table for her visitors. It is Africa’s best in Mountaineering treks because of the three continent’s five highest mountains i.e. Mt. Stanley, Mt. Speke and Mt. Baker combined in a triangular shape collectively named Mountains Of The Moon (named by Claudius Ptolemy; the 2nd century geographer who never saw them).
The Central Circuit Trail and the Kilembe Routes are the only two major trek routes to Mt. Rwenzori’s highest peak. The Central Circuit Trail penetrates the mountain from the eastern side offering a large loop anticlockwise, however, the Kilembe Route commences from the southern wing following a long, narrow distance running northwestwards and southeastwards.
In addition to camping accommodation, both routes are available for those who wish to trek the mountain without reaching the peaks. The central circuit route is an eight –hour journey whereas Kilembe route varies depending on one’s choice.
No specific words can be used to express the experience in these non-technical treks that are naturally challenging. They are composed of ups and downs, muddy paths, lakes, waterfalls, tremendous rivers and streams, to mention but a few.
The Central Circuit route is the easier of the two, however, Kilembe route dodges the notorious Bigo Bog crossed on the Central Circuit Trail. To cut a long story short, both routes are awesome!
One can also bless their three days with hiking in the foothills of the mountain provided they love a less taxing experience of the beauty and drama.
Wildlife in Mt. Rwenzori NP.
The altitude, nearly constant temperatures, humidity and high insolation are a conducive environment for the growth of best flora in Africa around the mountain. Various rare floral species endemic to the Albertine Rift are found here. The natural vegetation comprises of heath and Afro-alpine moorland, extending from around 3,500m to the snow line (one of the less-common vegetation types in Africa). Outstanding types are lobelias, groundsels, giant heathers, plus other endemic types.
On the animal side, Mt. Rwenzori has 217 birds recorded in addition to other threatened mammals species like L’Hoest’s monkeys, eastern chimpanzees, African forest elephants, endangered Rwenzori black-fronted / red duiker (believed to be a much localized sub-species and a separate species only found in this area).
LOCATION OF MT. RWENZORI.
These are series of mountain ranges located in the Albertine region of East Africa specifically at the Uganda-DRC boarder north of Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. The best access to the mountains is a flight to Kampala and driving to the area by road; a trip worth venturing.
WHEN TO HIKE MT. RWENZORI.
Visits to Mt. Rwenzori are possible throughout the year; however, the best appropriate time is during dry season which spans the months of July, August and December to February. This is when the trails are less muddy hence giving you a supernatural experience. Forget about the mountain being busy, any time is the best for booking and trekking.