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Mount Rwenzori National Park In Uganda

The Greek geographer Ptolemy had earlier described Rwenzori Mountains in 150AD as Lunae Montes – Mountains of the moon with snowcapped peaks rising from the equatorial bulge of Central Africa and sought to be source of the world’s longest River Nile. This was followed by series of exploration and by 1889; Henry Morton Stanley affirmed this ancient proclamation. This legendary description of Mont Rwenzori makes it a historical landmark that should never be missed while on safari in Uganda. The area was established as a national park in 1991 extending to 996 km2 of land coverage and was designated as a world heritage site in 1994 by UNESCO. Mount Rwenzori has the third highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya stretching to 5,109m above sea level named Margarita. Interestingly, the Rwenzori mountain peaks are covered by snow regardless of its close range to the equator. The mountain is structured in form a range and poses a rather challenging climb justifying why it was listed as one of the challenging mountains to climb in Africa in the Africa Travel Magazine. The Mountain is dotted with impressive glaciers incusing River Nyamwamba with its clear and spending waters. Mount Rwenzori National Park has 70 species of mammals, 217 species of birds of 19 are restricted to the Albertine rift and impressive vegetation that exist at different altitudinal ranges such as the montane forest zone which covers the lower layers followed by bamboo forest zone, tree heath vegetation zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Additionally to note is that 70% of the 99,600 ha that mark the Mount Rwenzori landscape exceed an altitude of 2,500m. Apart from Margarita peak (5,109m), Rwenzori has other peaks including; Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savoia (4,627m). The geography of Ruwenzori Mountain is marked by ancient Precambrian rocks while the communities that surround it include the Bakonzo and Bamba who have molded their lifestyle to adapt to the mountainous ecosystem in which they thrive in.

How to get to Mount Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori National Park can be connected from the following areas;

  • Rwenzori National Park can also be connected to by Air travel. Aero link operates scheduled flights to Kasese from Entebbe International Airport. Other charter carriers offer charter services from either Kajjansi or Entebbe Airport to Kasese.
  • You can also connect using public means by boarding buses that connect from Kampala to Kasese daily.

Tourist Attractions in Mount Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori is the Africa’s third highest mountain rising to 5,109m above sea level following Mount Kenya (5,199m) and Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in the second and first positions respectively. Its range of six peaks are worth exploring on Uganda safari including; Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savoia (4,627m). Its legendary description by ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150AD as Lunae Montes – Mountains of the moon with snowcapped peaks rising from the equatorial bulge of Central Africa and sought to be source of the world’s longest River Nile followed by series of exploration with Henry Morton Stanley affirming this ancient proclamation in1889 makes Mount Rwenzori a historical landmark that should never be missed while on safari in Uganda. Climbing it takes you through the footsteps of famous historical like the Duke of Abruzzi who was the first to reach the highest peak in 1906. Mountain slopes are marked by splendid glacier rivers that flow from the snow posing great scenic encounters you can ever have while on safari in Uganda. River Nyamwamba is one of these rivers.

Vegetation on Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori National Park is actually greatly known for its flora rather than its fauna. The various altitudinal ranges offer various forms of vegetation that are interesting to encounter while on Uganda safaris. Rising from the altitude above the farmlands of the Bakonzo, there lies montane forest at 1500-2500m giving way to Bamboo stands and messy tangles of Mimulopsis at 2500-3000m. This is followed by Heather- Rapenea zone at 3000-4000m marked by giant tree heathers (Erica spp.), garishly colored mosses and drab beards of lichen. The impressive giant lobelia forms (Lobelia spp.) and groundsels (Senecio spp.) thrive in this region and continues to the following Alpine zone at 3800-4500m where they meet wiry but pretty thickets of Helichrysum or everlasting flowers. The raised landscapes of Bujuku valley contain Bigo bogs that are marked by tussocks of sedge (Carex spp). All this is interesting to encounter when on Uganda safaris.

Wildlife in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Besides flora, Mount Rwenzori National Park also has a range of wildlife including; bushbuck, buffalo, Elephant, giant forest hog, leopard and chimpanzee even though they are not easily seen. The easily spotted species include; primates like black and white colobus and blue monkey and the hyrax.

Birds of Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Rwenzori National Park offers shelter to 217 species of birds of which 19 are restricted to the Albertine rift. These include among others; hand francolin, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Rwenzori turaco, barred long-tailed cuckoo, long eared owl,  flycatcher, greenbul, Archer`s ground robin, white-starred forest robin, golden-winged sunbird, strange weaver,  crimson wing, montane sooty boubou, Legden`s busg shrike, Rwenzori batis among other birds. The higher Alpine zone offers sights of Malachite Sunbird.

Local people around Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

The Bakonzo and Bamba have occupied the slopes of the Rwenzori Mountain for many years past. They consider Mount Rwenzori as a sacred landscape and a center of worship. They believe that their god Kitathamba lives in the higher slopes of Mount Rwenzori amidst glaciers and snow while his wives live in the lower moorland. The mountain ridge communities are headed by ridge leaders while the Omusinga (the King) of Bakonzo gets powers directly from Kitathamba. The prayer sacrifices were done on the specific sacred grounds for good harvests, forest productivity, aversion of natural calamities and peace.

Tourist activities in Mount Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Birding in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori National Park has 217 species of birds of which 19 are restricted to the Albertine rift. The Mountain landscape allows a birder on Uanda safari to explore birds that are not common in lowland ecosystems. These include; Barbets, Robins, Bee-eaters, Rwenzori Turaco, Long eared owl and sunbirds while Bearded Vultures, Swifts and Black eagles exist in the higher slopes. The Malachite Sunbird is visible in the upper Alpine zone.

Nature walks in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori National Park also offers range of nature walks for short tie trekkers or those who cannot manage the whole mountain climbing encounter. The walks traverse the Central circuit zone taking you through Buraro chimp forest and Lake Mahoma. Others go through Kichamba communities reaching out to Karangura ridge. The famous Bwamba Pass which is a direct route that used to connect Fort Portal and Bundibugyo before the construction of the road in 1938. It involves 1,500m across the north Rwenzori ridge and is an active endeavor to undertake while on Uganda safari.

Mountain climbing in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Mount Rwenzori can be climbed up to the top. There are two trails that can lead a mountaineer on Uganda safari to the top of Mount Rwenzori. These include; the Central Circuit and Kilembe trail.

The Central Circuit Trail in Mountain Rwenzori National park in Uganda: The central circuit starts at Mihunga and takes seven (7) days round trip.

Day 1: Climb from Nyakalengija (5400ft /1646 m) to Nyabitaba Hut (8700ft /2652m)

Day 2: Nyabitaba- John Matte hut (11200ft/3414 m)

Day 3: John Matte – Bujuku Hut (13000 ft 3962 m)

Day 4: Bujuku Hut – Elena Hut (14,700 ft /4430 m)

Day 5: Lake Kitandara hut – Guy Yeoman hut (10700ft/3261m)

Day 6: Descend from Guy Yeoman hut to Nyabitaba Hut

Day 7: Descend from Nyabitaba hut to Nyakalengija.

Kilembe Trail in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda: The Kilembe trail starts at Kilembe and lasts Nine (9) days round trip including summiting Margarita peak.

Day 1: Climb to Sine hut (2,585 m)

Day 2: Sine Hut to Kalalama Camp (3.147m) to Mutinda Camp (3.688 m)

Day 3: Mutinda Camp to Bugata Camp (4.062 m)

Day 4: Bugata Camp to Butawu Camp (3.974 m)

Day 5: Butawu Camp to Margherita Camp (4,485 m.)

Day 6: Margherita Camp to Margherita Peak (5.109 m) down Butawu Camp (3.974 m)

Day 7: Butawu Camp to Bugata Camp

Day 8: Descend to Kiharo Camp (3,460 m.)

Day 9: Descend back to the Ranger post

Cultural encounters around Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda.

The tribal groups around Mount Rwenzori National Park particularly the Bakonzo and Bamba have developed a range of trails that can be followed to explore deep into their traditions. These include;

Ruboni Community Camp around Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda; the Ruboni village is a settlement area of the Bakonzo for about 2,000 years past and exploring their traditions and their daily life is very interesting while on Uganda safaris. You intermingle with the local people as they do their daily routine works including; animal rearing, crop cultivation, food preparation along with an encounter of the traditional healer, story tellers, and blacksmith and craft makers.

Rwenzori Turaco View Camp Site;

This is Mihunga village overlooking the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains. The Bakonzo tribal group has dwelled at this place for the last 300 years without running water and electricity and have molded their life style to adapt to the mountainous environment that they thrive in. their homesteads and traditions can be encountered while on Uganda safaris.

Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda; this stretches for over 6 – 7 hours passing through the holy valley and other Bakonzo cultural sites. You encounter this trail in the company of the indigenous guide who takes you to the traditional healer named Muhima who will showcase his powers to you, the local black smith revealing the value of Bakonzo traditional stool. The route also exposes you to basket weaving and fire making skills. You will traverse River Kamusoge which belief has it that it has sweet waters that are fast to quench thirst.  The Konzo museum is also explored along this trail with a range of objects including te instruments that were used in the Rwenzururu struggle for secession.

Accommodation Facilities in Mount Rwenzori National Park in Uganda 

Ruboni Community Camp near Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Ruboni Community Camp is situated at the gateway to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. It has a wide range of choice from camping (own tents), to 6 private rooms with individual washrooms (hot water brought on request) or three self-contained bandas.

Camp Amenities

  • Solar powered lighting
  • Modern Restaurant
  • Balcony/veranda with mountain views
  • Private rooms with mosquito nets
  • Small camping area (bigger camping available in the village)
  • Private bathrooms.
  • Hot overhead showers
  • Running water from a spring (Bandas only)
  • Showers in Bandas.

Ruboni Turaco View Camp near Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite is located in Mihunga village and is named after the local bird Rwenzori Turaco and it offers restaurant, bar, accommodation in Bandas and the camping site. The camping site has also some eco-san showers and toilets. Local food is served at the restaurant.

 Facilities

  • 7 rooms total
  • Composting toilet
  • Mosquito nets
  • Private room
  • Private Bathroom
  • Sheets

Geo Lodges Equator Snow in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

The lodge is located near the entrance gate of Rwenzori Mountains National Park. This is another establishment of geo lodges and being the late to open up in December 2012. It is an up class lodge shaped using the round stones from River Mubuku. It provides clear views of Rwenzori Mountains and the night sights of indigenous tree species amidst natural lighting from the Fireflies.  It has a spacious dining hall, with great works of art depicting the antiquity of Rwenzori. The facility has a range of cottages. Bathrooms are spacious with windows overlooking the forest.

Mihunga Safari Lodge in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda.

It is located after Nyakalengija, in Mihunga village heading to the direction of the National Park’s entrance, on the right side.  The lodge has five self-contained, wooden cottages, restaurant and dining hall is quite big and the kitchen provides continental food and indigenous food. Electricity is available in the evening from a generator. The hot water is available.

Trekkers Hostel in Mountain Rwenzori National Park in Uganda

This is operated by Rwenzori trekking services located at Kilembe at the base of mount Rwenzori. It offers overnight stay.

Other accommodation can be arranged in Kasese, the biggest town in the area.