Rwenzori Mountains National ParkTrekking, Nature Walks, Peak Climbing
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
TOP THINGS TO DO IN RWENZORI MOUNTAINS
As early as 150 AD, Alexandrine Photographer, Ptolemy wrote of a snow capped Mountain range deep in the heart of Africa, which he claimed was the source of the world’s longest River, The Nile. He called it “Mountains of the Moon.”
Indeed, over centuries, Mountaineers who later explored Ptolemy’s mountains found the high Rwenzori glaciers and snow peaks whose melt waters certainly represent the highest springs of the Nile. The alpine highland of glaciers, snowfields, hot springs and blue cirque lakes make Rwenzori one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain parks.
Reaching an Elevation of 5109m, Rwenzori is Africa’s tallest mountain range exceeded in altitude by Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya, carrying Africa’s third, fourth and fifth highest peaks that are visible for miles around. Some of its peaks incomparable, beautiful and mist- shrouded carry permanent snow and glacier, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forest.
The Mountain slopes above 1,600m are the preserve of hikers who rate the Rwenzoris to be the most challenging of all African mountains. A variety of large mammals inhabit the lower slopes but the Rwenzori are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation. Its five distinct vegetation zones montane forest, bamboo forest, tree heath-bog, Hegenia, Rapania scrub and afro- alpine moorland provide a unique back drop to one of the most magnificent national parks in the world. Several endangered species and very unusual cloud forest flora like giant heathers, groundsels and lobelias, characterize the ranges as Africa’s botanic big game’.In 1991, Rwenzori Mountains were gazetted as a national park and is both a World Heritage and RAMSER site.
Attractions to Rwenzori national park
Mountain climbing is the most attractive activity on the legendary “Mountain of the Moon” that lies Between altitudes 0 06’ south and 0 46’ North and longitudes 29’ 47’ west and 30’ 11 East, Its diverse heavily snowcapped peaks are one of the few pristine and spectacular landscapes of the world.
Although variety of large mammals inhabits the lower slopes, the Rwenzori’s are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation. The ranges are scenic with pristine and spectacular landscape that comprises of waterfalls, hot springs, blue cirque lakes, snow clad peaks and stratified vegetation which is an attraction not only for visitors, but also creates potential for research as well as resources for the nearby communities.
The peak is also home to 18 species of mammals, 217 species of birds, 9 species of reptiles, and 6 species of amphibians. Elephants, buffalos, giant forest hog, bushbucks, Chimpanzees and leopards are present rarely seen. However primates such as the black and white colobus monkeys and the blue monkey may be seen. In the Rwenzori’s are also some unique and rare animal species like three horned chameleon, the Rwenzori colobus, Rwenzori turaco and the Rwenzori double collared sunbird.
The park is also cultural heritage for the neighboring communities. Eighteen sacred sites have been identified, mapped and protected as worship areas.
Activities in Rwenzori Mountains National park
Aesthetic values of the Rwenzori’s can be put into three categories of trekking, nature walks and peak climbing.
This is done along two routes; a 7 Day trekking of the central tourism circuit, 5 Day trek along Kilembe route to the southern part of the park. Shorter hikes can be arranged.
There are trees in the park which allows visitors up close interaction with nature.
The six- day loop trail is the tough but rewarding hike taking in all vegetation zones and glacier peaks. There are ascents to major peaks within the Rwenzori ranges along both routes. These include ascents to Magherita (5109m) on Mt Stanley, Vittorio Emmanuelle (4889m) on Mt Speke, and Edward (4842M) on Mountain Baker. These hikes offer commanding and panoramic views of other peaks with in the ranges. However, high peaks should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers.
Accessibility to the park
By road; The Park is located near Kasese, western Uganda bordering virunga national park in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) in the west. The Nyakalengija trail head which is 22km off the Kasese- Fort portal road, and 25km north of Kaesese can be reached from Kampala via Fort portal road (375km) or via Mbarara and Queen Elizabeth national park (450km).
By Air, Transport can also be arranged on chartered flights from Entebbe to Kasese Airstrip in Kasese town.
RWENZORI MOUNTAINS ACCOMMODATION
Hotel Margherita is located at the foothills of the mountain some few kilometers from the town of Kasese. They offer commendable customer service and pride themselves in offering a full “Rwenzori experience”. You will enjoy quality accommodation which ranges from standard single and double rooms to executive and family suites which can take up to five people. They have a very relaxing ambience which includes a smooth green gardens with a breathtaking view of the Rwenzori ranges with all it beautiful alpine botany. The gardens are even equipped with children’s swigs and seesaws in the children’s play area. They also have a full stocked bar and restaurant that will serve you all your beverages and foods and if you still have energy to burn, you can spend the night at club rocky, their night club on the premises.
Rwenzori International Hotel, 3km from the Kasese airstrip is located at the foot of the mountain ranges. It offers a range of accommodation from executive self-contained rooms to the single non-self-contained rooms and also has camping options with tents for those who prefer an outdoors affair. All rooms are furnished comfortably and equipped with a telephone and TV, mosquito nets and beddings provided on all the beds. Their restaurant also offers an assortment of affordable local cuisines. The bar is also stocked fully with a variation of beverages, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
Rwenzori International Hotel also offers its guests a health and fitness center with gym, steam bath, sauna and body massage. They also offer touring services to guests like hikes to the Rwenzori Ranges and Queen Elizabeth National Park. They also have a grass badminton court, a concrete tennis court, a laundry service and parking on premises.
Katara Lodge: Katara lodge is situated 16km from the Katunguru gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge is very keen on environmental conservation that all the buildings in the lodge are built out of renewable material like wood and grass thatch. The swimming pool is of salt water so as to reduce reliance on chemicals and most of their electrical energy is solar powered. They provide accommodation in grass thatched cottages, built in wood, that were hand crafted and woven into the hillside by the local community and have a spell binding view of queen Elizabeth and the Rwenzori ranges, farm lands and beautiful bird species. The water is heated by solar thermal energy. They provide both regular and family cottages.
Equator Snow Lodge: Located at the foothills of the mountain, the lodge is an up market lodging and is perfect if you prefer the finer things. Below the lodge is the roaring Mubuku River that will act as a soundtrack to your relaxing mind. It has beautiful décor embedded with artefacts from around the country. The cottages are built with round river rocks which makes them unique and rare world over. The cottages are self-contained and each has a fire place to keep you warm in those cold nights. Each cottage also has a balcony from which you can view the spellbinding horizon with the ranges before you. They also provide breakfast and lunch in the restaurant with a fully stocked bar.
Tropical Savannah Guest House: Tropical savannah guest house is based along the Mbarara-Kasese road in Kasese town and is a good option for travelers going to Kasese on a budget. They offer free Wi-Fi and the rooms are equipped with the usual amenities like showers, bathrooms and flush toilets, flat TV screen with satellite channels, wardrobe, mosquito net, adequate ventilation and full length windows. They also have a fully stocked bar to quench your thirst with both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages plus a restaurants that serves a complimentary breakfast daily and local dishes at lunch. They also have laundry services, parking, tour services, and car hire services.
RECOMMENDED RWENZORI SAFARIS
Best time to climb Rwenzori Mountains
The best time to climb the Rwenzori mountain is from June through to August and from December to February. January-February and July-August are the driest months, but heavy rain is possible at any time, so come prepared. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is chilly and wet – expect daytime temperatures of 10-15°C, with much colder nights.