The Rwenzori mountains, also known as Rwenjura, are a range of mountains in eastern equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park covers 996 km2 and was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994 and listed by world geographic among the best hikes in the world. It lies in Western Uganda about 6 hours’ drive from Kampala the capital of Uganda. Her highest peak reaching 5,109 metres above mean sea level and the upper ranges are permanently snow-capped and glaciated. The Rwenzori mountains lie astride the equator and has six peaks with 3 of them permanently covered in snow: Mt. Stanley, Mt. Baker and Mt. Speke. The Mount Stanley peak in the third highest in Africa. It is believed that rivers fed by the mountain streams form one of the sources of the Nile. The explorers linked the Rwenzori mountains to the Mountains of the moon as they are noticed high up in the sky competing with the moon. The mountains derive their name Mountains of the Moon from Plotemy in AD 150.
Formation of Mountain Rwenzori
This is not a volcanic mountain like many of East Africa’s major mountains but is a block of rock which was formed by faulting on the bottom of the western Rift valley. A hike to the Rwenzori mountains will take you through various vegetation covers which include montane forest, bamboo forest, tree heath, hagenia-rapanea scrub and afro-alpine moorland.
Wildlife in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Birds of the Rwenzori National Park
The park is home to 177 bird species with 19 of them being Albertine rift endemics and most the birdlife found in the forest area of the park. Just to list a few of them: Long eared owl, Archer’s robin-chat, Lagden’s bush Shrike, Blue-headed sunbird, Western Tinkerbird, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater among others.
Bird watching in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
These mountains are one of the best birding spots to catch the Albertine rift endemics. The vegetation here favors several bird species as a habitat. Several bird species that may be quite easy to catch a glimpse of include swifts, bearded vultures, long-eared owls among others.
Animals in the Rwenzori National Park
The park is home to 70 mammal species including the Rwenzori Otter an endemic in the park, Giant forest hogs, duikers, Leopard, elephant among others. There are also primate species such as the blue monkeys, Angola colobus monkey, black and white colobus monkeys, the occasionally seen L’hoest’s monkeys and unhabituated chimpanzees.
Lakes and Rivers in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Mountain Rwenzori ranges boast of 20 lakes with Lake Mahoma which is the most accessible, Lake Bajuku which lies in the valley of Mts. Stanley, Baker and Speke. Dams created a string on 8 beautiful lakes on the Nyamwamba trail including Lake Kitandara.
Safaris and Activities to do in Mount Rwenzori National Park
This is the main activity in the Rwenzori Mountains as the biggest aim is to reach the snow capped mountains. There are a number of issues during the hikes on Mountain Rwenzori but the biggest one is the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and any other forms of altitude sicknesses. Above 2500m, many travelers are affected by hypothermia regardless of their prior experience in hiking, age, fitness levels therefore be warned of this. Normally when one is faced with the condition, descending to lower altitudes helps them faster than any other kind of first aid.
We recommend adequate preparation for the trip as the trip is more enjoyable when one is well prepared. The conditions on the mountain are challenging even to experienced hikers. The central hike takes seven days to reach an altitude of 4,267m above mean sea level. During the hike, you will spend nights at predetermined locations along the trail in huts which are very well maintained to accommodate you while on the hike. You will have the assistance of potters to help you move up the hike.
The mountain hike has three starting points; Nyakalengija central circuit and Kilembe trail are located near Kasese town and Kazingo nature walk trailhead is located near Fort Portal town.
There are other short trails of a day, 3 days and even 4 days.
Some of the items to be carried for the hike include: a sleeping bag, hiking boots, warm clothing, waterproof over trousers, plastic bags for wet clothing, a lot of snacks to carry you through the day.
The community at the foot of the mountain offers a lot of opportunities to stroll as one enjoys the views of the area.
Cultural walks and community trails
The ethnic group living in the vicinity of the Rwenzori mountains are the Bakonzo. A cultural experience in this part of the country is recommended. The experience will give you a chance to know about their behavior, gardening, animal husbandry, wedding, making local brews etc.
Access to the Rwenzori Mountains
From Kampala, one can access The Rwenzori Mountains National park by road or by air. By road, a drive through Fort Portal or directly via Mbarara town and this journey lasts for there are schedled You can reach the park from Kampala via Fort Portal or even via Mbarara. There is also a scheduled or chartered flight from Entebbe to Kasese.
Rwenzori mountains national park lodges and camps
Ihamba lakeside safari lodge