Tours & Travel

Inside the guide to Rwenzori Mountains National Park

One of the many wooden platforms walks in the boggy sections of the trail. Julian Wright, who is a well-traveled 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, especially the locals (PHOTO/Courtesy).

SPECIAL FEATURE | Among the top 10 national parks of Uganda is the famous Rwenzori Mountains National Park located in western Uganda which attracts mostly mountaineering travelers that select to visit Uganda for trekking tours in Uganda.

The Uganda National Parks are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which corporate body is created by the act of parliament by 2000 not forgetting that Rwenzori Mountains national park is among the protected areas for the conservation of the flora and Fauna with over 400 species of birds.

The top visited national parks in Uganda are for Primate Safaris like Bwindi impenetrable forest national park & Mgahinga National park located in South Western Uganda close to Rwanda & Democratic Republic of Congo that host the mountain gorillas in Africa.

When Planning a Rwenzori Mountaineering tour, you need to know some facts about the Rwenzori Mountains National Park which is close to Kasese town & DR Congo.

Facts about Rwenzori Mountains National Park

The Rwenzori Mountains are one of the most exciting and challenging mountain ranges to trek in the world with 996 square kilometers of fantastical vegetation, lakes, rocky outcrops, cliffs, high glaciers, and snow-capped peaks exist as a unique and mystical world into which you can escape.

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park covers nearly 100,000 ha in western Uganda and comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain ranges which includes Africa’s third highest peak (Mount Margherita: 5,109 m).

This Peak of Margherita is the dreamt of any Rwenzori trekking travelers or safari planners planning to explore Rwenzori mountains national park.

The region’s glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes make it one of Africa’s most beautiful alpine areas to visit when planning a summer vacation in Africa with mountaineering as the main activity.

Rwenzori National Park has many natural habitats of endangered species and a rich and unusual flora comprising, among other species, the giant heather.

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park provides stunning views of the glacier and snow-capped mountains just kilometers from the equator, where it is contiguous with the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The height of the peaks may not match taller mountains elsewhere in the world, the highest point – Mount Stanley’s Margherita Peak – is 5,109 meters (although this is still the 4th highest peak in Africa!).

The Rwenzori Mountains are the highest and most permanent sources of the River Nile and constitute a vital water catchment. Their multitude of fast-flowing rivers, magnificent waterfalls, and stratified vegetation make the property exceptionally scenic and beautiful.

The mountains are well-known for their unique alpine flora which includes many species endemic to the Albertine Rift in the higher altitude zones including giant heathers, groundsels, and lobelias.

Rwenzori Mountains

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

Park Size

Almost 1,000 km2 (386 sq mi) in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers.

 Creation as Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park was established in 1991.

History before it was opened

Rebel militias occupied the Rwenzori Mountains from 1997 to June 2001. The park was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger between 1999 and 2004 because of insecurity and a lack of resources in the park.

Vegetation Zones of Rwenzori Mountains

There are various Vegetation covers that are found on the Rwenzori Mountains; these can be experienced by the trekkers when hiking to the top of the mountains of the moon.

Rwenzori Mountains

Julian Wright, a professional mountaineer, lead guide/ field expert for over 15 years and owner of African Ascents Limited, a Kenya-based outdoor adventure company is one of those tourists who has taken advantage of this less busy period, to fulfil his 6-year old dream of conquering Rwenzori Mountains (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Conservation in Rwenzori Mountains

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is Managed and owned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which runs conservation projects for the continued preservation of the glacier at the top, and this includes the planting of trees around the national park and sensitization of the local communities to plant trees through community return benefit from the Park.

Most Tour Operators that run Rwenzori Trekking are conservation tours and the lodges used are eco friends at the different hurts and camps managed by various route managers like Rwenzori Mountaineering services and Rwenzori Trekking Services.

Recommended Trails for Trekking Rwenzori

Rwenzori Central Circuit

This Rwenzori Central Circuit is not challenging as the Kilembe Trail, This trail is the traditional one and the oldest within the national park that has been used by various trekkers who visited Rwenzori before 2009. It’s managed by Rwenzori Mountaineering services with all its trek starting from Nyakalengija, 22 Km from Kasese off the Fort portal Road.

Kilembe Trail

The recent one that was opened in 2009, is the Kilembe trail that rises in the southern slopes of the Rwenzori from a trailhead at the Kilembe just near the town of Kasese. This route is along the Nyamwamba Valley that goes through the glacier lakes and the spectacular viewpoints before joining the central circuit at Lake Kitandara. The standard route also shows Mount Baker has got scenery that makes shorter treks.

Hunwick’s Camp (3,974 metres), is one of the camps belonging to Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS) in the Rwenzori Mountains. Julian Wright, who is a well-traveled 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 especially the locals (PHOTO/Courtesy).

Recommended Tours for Rwenzori Trekking

Various Ugandan Tour operators offer different Rwenzori Climbing tours to visit the peak and Rwenzori Mountaineering Service, Rwenzori Expeditions are the leading tour operators that offer unique mountaineering tours to Rwenzori Mountains National Park led by experienced local guides.

However, these companies offer additional extension options that include gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee watching & Wildlife trips. The popular Safari that encompasses all these unique safari activities is the 12 Days Uganda Gorilla & Rwenzori Trek via RMS or 14 Days Gorilla & Rwenzori Mountaineering via Kilembe Trail

12 Days Rwenzori Mountaineering & Gorilla Trekking.

The 12 Days Uganda Gorilla Watching & Rwenzori Trek is the most recommended safari for travelers planning an Uganda Safari with the main focus on Gorilla trekking in either Bwindi impenetrable forest national park or Mgahinga National Park which is the most dreamt safari activity in Uganda.

(Gorilla trekking, In the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park live the last mountain gorilla population. As the gentle and peaceful giants allow us to have people around them, you are fortunate enough to be able to observe, photograph, and film these animals up close.)

An extra enjoyment of Queen Elizabeth national park’s wildlife watching with chances of adding lion experiential tracking which rewards to move with the lions in the wilderness of Uganda.

Rwenzori Mountains: These Mountains support glaciers and are one source of the Nile River. The Rwenzori Mountains reach heights up to 5,109 metres (16,762 ft). The highest Rwenzori peaks are permanently snow-capped.

Kibale Forest National Park: is protecting the moist evergreen rain forests. It is 766 square kilometres in size and is located between 1,100 metres to 1,600 metres in elevation. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes.

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).

Safari Highlights

Day 1: Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi national park

Day 2: Trekking the gentle giants of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Day 3: Transfer to Kasese-Nyakalengija

Day 4: Nyakalengija (1600m)-Nyabitaba hut (2660m)

Day 5: Nyabitaba Hut (2660m)-John Matte hut (3420m) between 5-6 Hours

Day 6: John Matte hut (3420)-Bujuku hut (3930m)- Between 4 -6 hours

Day 7: Bujuku hut (3930m)-Elena hut (4563m)

Day 8: Elena hut (4563m) – Kitandara (3979m); Full Day 10-12 hours

Day 9: Kitandara hut (3979m) – Guy Yeoman hut (3505m)

Day 10: Descend back to Nyakalengija- Kibale Forest

Day 11: Chimpanzee tracking

Day 12: Transfer from Kibale forest national park-Kampala

When you’re interested in Rwenzori Trekking tours, the Trips range from 7 Days Rwenzori Mountaineering to 9 Days Rwenzori Trekking which is available at Rwenzori Mountaineering Service that is managed by Active African Vacations ltd that offers unique Rwenzori trips.

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