RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

 

The Rwenzori Mountains covers approximately 1000km squared, the mountain has the third highest peak in Africa which is approximately 5,109 feet. The mountain has waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, flora and fauna and lakes. The mountain has different mountain ranges which include Margherita the highest on this mountain but third highest in Africa, the mount Speke, and mount Baker which is the fifth highest peak in Africa. However, the mountain has other ranges like mount Luigi da Savoia, Mount Stanley which is the highest, mount Emin Pasha and mount Gessi which are separated by deep gorges. As you climb the mountain, the vegetation keeps on changing. This is because of the altitude.

Rwenzori Mountains national park is located in south western Uganda, kasese district near the Democratic Republic of Congo boarder, approximately 300km from Kampala city if you pass via Mubende Fort portal route, and approximately 360km if you use Masaka-Mbarara busenyi then to kasese route. The park was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1994, it is also referred to as the mountains of the moon.

Vegetation zones of Rwenzori mountains

Rocks and glaciers.

These lie approximately between 4000-5000 meters. The peak become rocky in dry seasons and are covered with ice in rainy seasons.

Alpine zone.

This zone has a swampy vegetation. It is characterized by giant groundsels, the lobelia Wollaston, the torch lobelia and thick tangled helichrysum stuhlumani.

Heather zone.

This approximately between 3000-4000 meters. It has a heather forest which grows only on poor soils, rocky places and ridge tops.

The bamboo zone.

This is characterized by thick bamboo leaves that cover the ground. The zone is approximately between 2500-3000 meters. Plants in this zone include; tree ferns, crimson flowers, Rwenzori black berry among others. The zone has good soils.

Montane forest

This lies approximately 2500 above the see level. Trees in this forest include; balsams, begonia, the wild banana, tree ferns, yellow wood tree, read stink wood among others.

Activities in Rwenzori Mountains national park

Mountain climbing.

This is of the most sought of activity by tourists who visit the park. Mountain climbing activity is a very physical activity which requires you to be physically fit, no heart diseases and hypertensions. Guides will let you choose the trail you would like use; each trail or route will reward you with a great climbing experience. While climbing, you get an opportunity to see the different mountain ranges, the glacier lakes, the water falls, the hot springs, rare flora and fauna and other interest wild life.

You can choose to use the central circuit trail which is the most popular trail. The trail offers the spectacular circular tour as you climb up to the peak. The trail starts from Mihunga which will take you to Bujuku valley then trek up to the peak. The central circuit trail will take you to the rocky Mount Stanley, through the Bigo bog which has walk boards aimed at easing your walk.

You will have stop overs to one of these campsites when you choose to use this trail. They include; Guy yeoman which is approximately 3505m, kitandara 4023m, Elena which is approximately 4521m, john mate 3505m and Nyabitaba which is approximately 2651 meters.

Kilembe trail or route. This trail is near kasese town and starts from the southern slopes of the mountain. It was opened up in 2009 as an alternative to other trails. This trail will lead you to the long route called Nyamwanda valley where you see the beautiful glacier lakes. It’s at this route or trail that you can climb up to mountain Baker. The trail has views of the stunning valleys.

Rwenzori mountain climbing takes seven and more days to reach its highest peak. You will spend your nights at different camps on the mountain when you use Kilembe trail. These include; the kiharo camp which is approximately 3430m, the Hunwick camp which is approximately 3874m, Bugata camp which is 4100m, Mutinda camp [3582m] and sine hut which is approximately 2596m.

You can book this activity through the Rwenzori Mountaineering services or through your tour operator. ENGAGI SAFARIS will help you book your mountain climbing activity.

What to carry for mountain climbing activity?

Carry your rain jacket with a hood to keep you warm, this is because Rwenzori mountains gets cold the upper you go.

Sleeping bag

You will need a heavy sleeping bag while climbing the mountain. Climbing the Rwenzori mountains takes seven days, this means you will have sleep on the way yet it gets cold, that’s why you need to pack a heavy sleeping bag that will keep you warm.

Gloves.

You will need gloves most especially when hiking through the glaciers to protect your palms from coldness caused by the ice. You will also need to warm your palms during cold nights.

Don’t forget to pack some snacks to help you fill up your stomach when you it feels empty. However, the pack will offer you with snack, but you may not like them, so packing yours will help.

A head lamp is a must have item when preparing yourself for mountain climbing. There is no electricity in the huts up in the mountains, its better you come with a head-lamps with a good battery.

Bird watching.

The park has over 200 bird species that can be sighted just when u have arrived in the park. expect to see birds like Robins, Rwenzori turaco, owl, black eagles, Dwarf Honeyguide, evergreen forest, sunbirds, bamboo warblers, golden winged sunbird, handsome francolin, illadoposis, white starred robin, white-collard olive-back, stripe breast tit, red throated Aletha, red faced crimson wing, montane Rwenzori nightjar, long eared owl, grauer’s cuckoo-shrike, scarlet tufted malachite sunbirds, black eagle, owl bearded vultures among others.

What to carry while on a birding tour in Uganda

Binoculars

Most of Uganda’s birds are small and fly high, having binoculars will help you zoom in and observe their features in a good angle.

Don’t forget to carry a camera.

Carry a camera to enable you capture different bird species and your memories while on a birding tour.

Wide hat

A wide hat will protect your skin and eyes from sunshine.

Have a water bottle to hydrate your body after and during long nature walks.

Field guide book.

Hiking boots.

Expect to hike through forests and wetlands while on your birding tour to Uganda. Sturdy hiking boots will be of much help.

Water proof field bag

This will help you pack your most needed items like the binoculars, camera, phones, extra batteries and storage drives. A water proof bag is needed because rain can fall any time of the day, or your essentials may accidentally fall into water while watching birds in wetlands.

Don’t forget your personal toiletries like bathing soap, toothbrush, lotions, creams and toothpaste. You can as well buy these while in Uganda, your tour operator can help you purchase them from the supermarkets or local shops.

Hiking and nature walks

Rwenzori mountains national park has the most beautiful sceneries you will ever see. The walks and hikes are guided by a professional tour guide who will take you to the best spots where you will see lakes like Muhooma, you will hike to the Buraro chimp forest, communities of kichambe to karangura ridge, communities of Ruboni. You can hike up to river Mubuku where you will see the great views of mountain Baker. While hiking you will see the three horned chameleon, squirrels, vervet monkeys among other creatures that the park harbors.

Wildlife viewing.

Rwenzori mountains national harbors a wide range of wildlife from animals, reptiles to birds and unique insects plus flora and fauna. The park is also famous for the three horned chameleon. Rwenzori mountains has the savannah grasslands which harbors animals like; the rock hydrax, l’hoest’s monkeys, Uganda clawed frog, genet mongoose, Rwenzori climbing mouse, Rwenzori otter, Rwenzori colobus, forest elephant, red duiker, giant forest hogs, bush bucks, golden cats, blue monkeys among others.

Cultural encounter

Apart from wildlife and climbing the mountains, Rwenzori mountains is also home to the Bakonzo people who in the past years used to live in the park, they we shifted by the government and now stay near the park. Engagi safaris is your travel partner who will take you to the Bakonzo community, they will show you their cultural dances, teach you how they prepare their local dishes, you will learn how to weave basket and will take you to the back smith.

What to pack on your tour to Rwenzori mountains national park

A tour to Rwenzori mountains national park will reward you with great memories that will stay with you forever, to capture these moments, don’t forget to come with a camera, enough storage and good lenses, comfortable safari clothes not brightly colored, bright colors scare away animals, pack long sleeved shirts to protect your skin from being scratched by tree branches or thorns, don’t forget your scarfs and trousers. Protecting your skin from sun the is more important, don’t forget your sunscreen, a cap or a hat and sun glasses. Come along with durable water proof boots that are sturdy enough to support you on slippery trails. If you are coming for bird watching, don’t forget to come with a pair of binoculars and a birder’s guide book and if you are coming for mountain climbing, don’t forget to book with ENGAGI SAFARIS

When to visit Rwenzori mountains national park.

The park can be visited all year round however the best time to visit is during dry seasons from June to October and from December to February.

What is the best time climb Rwenzori Mountains?

It is better to climb the mountain in July, August and September. Mountain climbing has both low seasons and high seasons, each season has its own advantages.

The high seasons. This is when its dry, expect no rain throughout your journey. The views are clear in this season. Climbers are many which is a good advantage if you want to socialize and make more friends. The journey is always fun when you are many.

Climbing in the low seasons. There are few climbers in this season, you can even stay at the campsites alone or with only your group. It’s a rainy season however rain mostly come in the afternoon, you have the morning hours to hike. In this period tour operators offer discounts.

Where to stay while in Rwenzori mountains national park.

The park has a wide range of accommodation facilities. They range from luxury, mid-range to budget accommodations.

LUXURY MID RANGE BUDGET
EQUATOR SNOW LODGE-near Mubuku river-near Nyakalengija gate IHAMBA LAKE SIDE SAFARI LODGE TOURS HOLIDAY IN
DANDTON HOTEL KASESE RUBONI COMMUNITY CAMP
Hotel margherita Rwenzori back packers
Rwenzori international hotel Mihunga safari lodge,
Rwenzori turaco view campsite-bandas.

 

 

 

 

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