How to plan a hike to Mountain Rwenzori

Climbers sleep in static tents or wooden huts, spacious enough for bunkbeds

Mount Rwenzori boasts with Africa’s third highest summit it located in Uganda bordering the Democratic republic of Congo, the Rwenzori ranges are sometimes known as the mountains if the moon this name was given by Claudius Ptolemy the Greco Roman mathematician, father of geography and astronomer.

He called mount Rwenzori Mountains of the moon because of the striking glaciers that shine like little moons.

Mount Rwenzori derives its name from the local word to mean “rain maker” The first peak Margherita was named after the queen of Italian by an Italian aristocrat the Duke of Abruzzi. Rwenzori is the highest mountain block in Africa. National Geographic chose it as one of the best hiking destinations in the world. Though climbing might be tough, the experience is very thrilling and one of the things you should explore before living the world.

What makes Mount Rwenzori more unique is that though it rose from the rift valley floor its not volcanic like other mountains in Africa. It’s also divided into its altitude zones with different micro climates, flora and fauna.

Hunwick’s Camp (3,974 metres), one of the camp’s belonging to Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS) in the Rwenzori Mountains. Julian Wright, who is a well-travelled mountaineer and guide on more than 4 continents, praised the Rwenzori trails and camps as being sufficiently maintained. He also said there was room for the creation of more luxury camps to attract more high-end climbers who would increase the earnings and job creation for especially the locals (PHOTO/Courtesy).

Mount Rwenzori also boasts with numerous bird species some of which are endemic to this area such as; fly catcher, greenbul, black eagle, long eared owl, handsome francolin, scarlet tufted machalite sunbird, cinnamon chested bee eater, lammergeyer, Archer’s ground robin, Rwenzori Turaco and white starred forest robin to mention a few so this is a bonus for bird enthusiasts.

Mount Rwenzori offers a stunning view of nine of Ugandan great lakes within its valleys, endowed with floras and faunas and changing vegetation on every climbing stage. The mountain is less crowded unlike other trekking places in the world it offers a real experience of whispers of the wild. Rwenzori national park was gazetted in 1991 and covers an area of 996 kilometers squared. The highest peak rises to 5109 meters high above sea level

Mount Rwenzori is divided into 6 mountain ranges bisected by lush green valleys, over 100,000 mountain climbers attempt to climb mount Rwenzori but only a few make it to the highest Margherita peak. The snow capped mountain cover a distance of about 120 kilometers.

Mount Rwenzori has got main trails that is the Kilembe trail which summits Margherita peak, it takes about 9-10 days to ascend and descend, the central circuit trail which leads to Elena Hut with magnificent views of Margherita peak it takes about 7 days to ascend and descend.

The tropical forests if the Rwenzori Mountains are covered with fig trees at the base of the mountain, followed by Bamboo zone, Mossy heather zone and then the rocky grounds leading to the peak.

The hike always starts up at Nyakalenjija to past river Mubuku to Nyabitita hut where you will have rest alongside the way, tourists will be able to see chimpanzees and blue monkeys.

The next destination will be to the Nyamuleju hut you will pass over the Kurt Shaffer Bridge and view the magnificent Mubuku River, mount Speke and mount Stanley. Then you will ascend to John Matte hut to spend a night from there.

The next destination will be past lake Bujuku ascending through huge lobelias and heath trees, there’s also a rock shelter where you will rest a bit known as cooking pot then get to the final sleeping destination which is Bujuku hut.

This day is very interesting as you ascend to mount Victoria and Speke with spectacular glacier views from saviors and Elena, you will pass through huge groundsels and lobelias moving through the snow to Scott Elliot pass through the snow to the final destination of Elena hut where you will spend a night from.

Ake Kachope in the Kachope Valley, just after Bamwanjara Pass (4,450 metres) and close to Hunwick’s Camp (3,974 metres) (PHOTO/Courtesy).

The final day is where you will see your dream alive ascending to the renowned Margherita peak through Alexander peak covered with snow encounter, the panoramic views from Margherita and then descend to the magnificent lake Kitandara and spend a night at Kitandara hut.

From Kitandara hut you will climb Lake Kitandara and descend to the striking fresh field pass where you will be able to see the vast plains of Congo then descend to Guy yeomen hut after a picnic lunch

The next destination will take you along river Mubuku and to the initial route nest to river Bujuku and then to the Nyabitaba hut where you will spend a night from.

The final day you will pass through Nyakalenginja and then to the mountain slopes to the Margherita hut where you will dine and rest after adventuring the highest peak of Uganda.

Mount Rwenzori can be accessed within 9 hours drive from Kampala, approximately 440 kilometers from the city. Nyakalenja trail is 22 kilometers west of Kasese and there is a sign post off the tarmac road of fort portal highway, Tourists can also go by air to Kasese town.

Tourists planning to climb mount Rwenzori must carry good hiking shoes, insect repellents, and warm clothes, water proofed jackets and trousers and must also be physically fit mountaineers. Guides and porters can be hired including the hiking equipment’s. Endeavour to take about 2 liters of water per day, the potters will always collect and boil water every evening and it will be cool by morning hours.

Though mount Rwenzori offers breathtaking encounters, most of the people who are experienced mountain climbers have rated it as very difficult to climb as even Kilimanjaro the highest peak of Africa.

Below are some levels of Rwenzori mountain ranges with permanent snow and three with glaciers.

Mount Stanley/ Margherita peak 5109 meters

Mount Speke4889 meters

Mount Baker 4843 meters

Mount Gess 4797 meters

Mount Emin 4791 meters

Mount Luigi de Savio 4626 meters

Mount Alexandria-

Mount albert–

The beautiful Lake Kitendara, just after Hunwick’s Camp (3,974 metres) on the way to Margherita Camp (4,495 metres). There are over 20 lakes in the larger Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The lowest and most accessible being Lake Mahoma (2,651m) in the bird-rich forest of the Central Circuit and the highest being Lake Bujuku that is fed by the glaciers of Mounts Stanley, Baker and Speke (PHOTO/Courtesy).

Tourists that aren’t experienced mountain climbers can avoid the peaks and take the loop trail that takes about 6 to 7 days reaching an altitude of 4,372 meters or alternatively you can take a three day hike to the moorland zone or divert from the main loop to some other peaks.

Please do not attempt to climb mount Rwenzori high peaks if you are not fit. The prices are subject to changing anytime. The dry season is the best time to visit when its not very muddy and slippery though rains can fall anytime even on dry seasons. The dry seasons are June to August and December to January.

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  1. Pingback: UWA adopts drones to fight poaching in Rwenzori Mountains National Park • UgStandard

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