The Rwenzori Mountains also known as the fabled mountains of the moon as recorded by an ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150AD are among the natural wonders that you will ever have while on safari in Uganda. Established as national Park in 1991, Rwenzori Mountain National Park stretches over a geographical coverage of 996km2 with its Margarita peak standing at 5,109m above sea level making it the highest point in Uganda covered by snow throughout the year regardless of its close range to the equator.  The park received a world heritage site status by UNESCO in 1994. Mount Rwenzori is a mountain range that has been listed to be among the world’s challenging mountains to climb by the Africa Travel Magazine. The range of glaciers flowing from the upper slopes including; the famous River Nyamwamba which impressive views of its slopes. The National Park is a home of 70 species of mammals, 217 species of birds of which 19 are endemic to the Albertine rift alongside unique diverse vegetation distribution featured in its five zones. The zones range from the montane zone to bamboo zone, tree heath zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Extending to an area of 99,600 ha with 70% of this rising above the elevation of 2,500 m,  Rwenzori Mountains present exclusive craggy and sheer range resulting onto three major peaks I.e. Albert (5.101 m), Alexandra (5.083 m) and Margherita (5,109 m) which is the third highest in Africa.  The geography of Mount Ruwenzori National Park is built by ancient Precambrian rocks that piled up during the process of rift valley formation. The Bamba and the Bakonzo are the indigenous inhabitants of Rwenzori area who have modeled their life style to adapt to the mountain landscapes of which they thrive in. They have unique means of carrying luggage as well as water and firewood to the upper slopes – something interesting to encounter while on safari in Uganda.

mount-rwenzori-in-uganda

How to get there.
Any traveller on Uganda safari can access Mount Rwenzori from the following points;

Rwenzori National Park can also be accessed by Air from Entebbe by boarding Aero link Uganda which operates scheduled flights to Kasese. Other charter carriers offer charter services from either Kajjansi or Entebbe Airport to Kasese. Public means can also be used. Buses transfer every day to and from Kasese and Kampala.

Mount Rwenzori.
The Rwenzori Mountain is the Africa’s third highest mountain elevating to 5,109m above sea level after Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro (5,895m) and Mount Kenya (5,199m) above the snowline. Rwenzori has six (6) peaks which include;   Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savoia (4,627m) towering in form of ranges which makes it worth exploring while on safari in Uganda.  Climbing the Rwenzoris allows you to walk in the footsteps of the famous climbers like the Duke of the Abruzzi who first summited Rwenzori in 1906. The slopes of the towering Rwenzoris are marked by flowing glaciers that give impressive views of the area. These rivers include Nyamwamba and Mubuku. The slopes of this mighty tower are drained by sparkling glaciers like River Nyamwamba and River Mubuku.
Vegetation.
Mount Rwenzori has a series of vegetation zones that offer varied eco environments in different landscape. The area above the farmlands of the Bakonzo is marked montane forest (1500-2500m) which adjoins the Bamboo zone and messy tangles of Mimulopsis (2500-3000m). Next is the lush Heather- Rapenea zone (3000-4000m) marked by giant tree heathers (Erica spp.), brightly shaded mosses and dull beards of lichen. The impressive giant giant lobelia forms (Lobelia spp.) and groundsels (Senecio spp.) are first encountered in this region as they continue to the Alpine zone (3800-4500m) where they are inter-joined by thin but beautiful thickets of Helichrysum or everlasting flowers. The upper valley of Bujuku valley contains Bigo Bogs marked tussocks of sedge (Carex spp). This combines to make your Uganda safari memorable.

Wildlife:
The Rwenzori Mountains are also blessed by a range of wildlife among which include; buffalo, bushbuck, Elephant, leopard, giant forest hog, and chimpanzee. Due to nature of the terrain, this wildlife is rarely seen. Primates like blue monkey and white and black colobus alongside other species like hyrax can be easily seen.

Birds:

birds-in-rwenzori
Mount Rwenzori National Park contains 217 species of birds of which 19 are endemic to the Albertine rift. The varied eco-system offers a range of birds including; the hand francolin, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Rwenzori turaco,  barred long-tailed cuckoo, Archer`s ground robin, long eared owl,  flycatcher, greenbul, strange weaver, white-starred forest robin, golden-winged sunbird, Legden`s bush shrike, crimson wing,  Rwenzori batis, montane sooty boubou among other birds. The Alpine zone offers the sight of Malachite Sunbird.

Local people.
The Bamba and the Bakonzo have inhabited the slopes of Mountain Rwenzori for centuries and centuries ago. They have great cultural attachment to these mountains especially regarding their religious significance. They considered the mountains as the sacred grounds where people would get power from God of creation – Kitathamba who dwells in the upper slopes of Rwenzori surrounded by snow and glaciers. The Kitathamba’s wives dwelled in the lower moorland while the ridge leaders take care of the mountain ridge communities marking the foundation for ritual and social arrangement. The King (Omusinga) acquires the power straight from Kitathamba and sacrifices plus prayers are carried out at the sacred places to call for harmony amidst people and their gods regarding forest productivity, good harvests, and disease control and altering the natural calamities. The local people have modeled their lifestyle to suit the mountain landscape and carry their luggage by tying a rope on their head and put the luggage on their back before walking up the slopes of Rwenzori to their respective areas.

Tourist activities.

Birding.

With 217 bird species of which 19 are endemic to the area presents good birding opportunities with an encounter of birds that are not easily seen in lowland habitats. Bird species that may be seen on this activity include; Barbets, Robins, Bee-eaters, Rwenzori Turaco, sunbirds, long eared owl while Bearded Vultures, Black eagles and Swifts may be spotted in the higher slopes. The Alpine zone is ideal for Malachite Sunbird.

Nature walks.

There are various trails that are designed to enable you have an encounter in Rwenzori mountain National Park on foot. The walks traverse the Central circuit and trails feature Buraro chimp forest and Lake Mahooma. There are also walks through Kichamba communities reach out to Karangura ridge which are also rewarding on safari in Uganda.
Bwamba Pass: The Bwamba pass was used in the pre-colonial era by the local people to connect to Fort Portal and Bundibugyo before the road was set up in 1938. It is a direct route involving tough 1,500m hike through the steep ridge in the north of Rwenzori which is an active activity to undertake during your Uganda safari tour. The community group called Abanya Rwenzori guides the travellers through isolated villages on the mountain, the bamboo forest and impressive views of the rift valley.

Mountain climbing.

climbing-rwenzori-uganda-safari

Two well-designed circuits are present to lead the mountaineers tip summit Ruwenzori Mountain.  Thse include the Kilembe trail and the Central circuit.
The Central Circuit Trail: The central circuit stretches for seven (7) days for a round trip and it commences at Mihunga.
Day 1: Climb from Nyakalengija (5400ft /1646 m) to Nyabitaba Hut (8700ft /2652m)
Day 2: Nyabitaba- John Matte hut (11200ft/3414 m)
Day 3: John Matte – Bujuku Hut (13000 ft 3962 m)
Day 4: Bujuku Hut – Elena Hut (14,700 ft /4430 m)
Day 5: Lake Kitandara hut – Guy Yeoman hut (10700ft/3261m)
Day 6: Descend from Guy Yeoman hut to Nyabitaba Hut
Day 7: Descend from Nyabitaba hut to Nyakalengija.

Kilembe Trail: The Kilembe trail takes Nine (9) days to summit Margarita peak and return.
Day 1: Climb to Sine hut (2,585 m)
Day 2: Sine Hut to Kalalama Camp (3.147m) to Mutinda Camp (3.688 m)
Day 3: Mutinda Camp to Bugata Camp (4.062 m)
Day 4: Bugata Camp to Butawu Camp (3.974 m)
Day 5: Butawu Camp to Margherita Camp (4,485 m.)
Day 6: Margherita Camp to Margherita Peak (5.109 m) down Butawu Camp (3.974 m)
Day 7: Butawu Camp to Bugata Camp
Day 8: Descend to Kiharo Camp (3,460 m.)
Day 9: Descend back to the Ranger post

Cultural encounters.

There are four (4) trails in Rwenzori area to enable you explore into tradtions of the local people. These include;
Ruboni Community Camp. The Ruboni village is a home for the Bakonzo people for 2,000 years past. The encounter allow you to enjoy the experience of the local people as they carry out their everyday tasks  including cultivation and animal rearing, food preparation, traditional healing, music dance and drama, handicraft making and blacksmith.

Rwenzori Turaco View Camp Site. The village is in Mihunga overlooking the rugged snow covered Rwenzori peaks. The Bakonzo have dwelled at this place for 300 years without electricity and running water. The people have modeled their lifestyle to adapt to the mountainous landscape where they thrive.

Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail. The Bulemba-Ihandiro cultural trail takes 6 – hours traversing the holly valley and other Bakonzo cultural sites. The local guide will take you through a range of encounters like the traditional healer, local blacksmith demonstrating the spiritual attachment of the Bakonzo traditional stool, basket weaving and fire making. Encounter River Kamusonge which is believed to have sweet waters ideal for thirst quenching. The break is made in a hut with impressive views of Rwenzori Mountains before encountering the museum which is bit in Konzo architecture with local materials. The artifacts include instruments used during the Rwenzururu struggle for secession, traditional dress and other artifacts of cultural and historical significance to the inhabitants of the Rwenzori region.

Accommodation.

Ruboni Area.
Ruboni Community Camp

Ruboni Community Camp- uganda safari accommodation
Ruboni Community Camp is positioned close to the entrance of Mount Rwenzori National Park. It offers accommodation in six (6) private rooms featuring en suite wash rooms, three (3) private bandas that are self-contained and own camping.
Camp Amenities:

  • Modern Restaurant
  • Solar powered lighting
  • Private rooms with mosquito nets
  • Balcony/veranda with mountain views
  • Private bathrooms.
  • Small camping area
  • Running water from a spring (Bandas only)
  • Hot overhead showers
  • Showers in Bandas.

Ruboni Turaco View Camp.
The Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite is positioned in the village of Mihunga and derives its name from the local bird endemic – the Rwenzori Turaco. It features a restaurant, bar and composting toilet. Accommodation is offered in its seven (7) rooms in Banda setting and has camping provision. The rooms feature private bathroom while the camping site has eco-san showers and toilets.
Equator Snow Lodge.

Equator Snow Lodge - safari lodge in Uganda
The Equator snow lodge is positioned at the entrance of Rwenzori National Park. It is an upmarket accommodation establishment crafted using stones for the Mubuku River. The lodge offers. The lodge offers impressive views of Rwenzori mountains. It features spacious dining area and impressive works of art. The accommodation is offered in its cottages with bathrooms and windows having clear views of the forest.
Nyakalengija Area.
Rwenzori Mountains / Mihunga Safari Lodge.
Mihunga Safari lodge is positioned in the village of Mihunga close to Nyakalengija. Accommodation is offered in its five (5) self-contained wooden cottages, dining and restaurant with the kitchen preparing inter-continental food. The lodge has generator powered electricity and hot water is available
Kilembe Area.
Trekkers Hostel.
The Trekkers Hostel is operated by the Rwenzori trekking services poisoned in Kilembe area where the second circuit for Rwenzori climbing starts from.

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