The Fumbled Mountains of The Moon
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located within the fabled Mountains of the Moon in Western Uganda in the East African Rift Valley which also straddles in to the Democratic Republic of Congo and its conservation area
Mountain Rwenzori is the third highest in Africa rising up more than 16,700 feet above sea level with its highest peaks being permanently snowcapped, Mount Magherita (5.109m) and its twin peak Mount Stanley (5.083) alongside the 4th and 5th highest peaks, Mount Speke and Mount Baker.
The Rwenzori glaciers are one of the sources of the longest river on earth, the River Nile with the lower slopes blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest, huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias creating an enchanting, fairy-tale scene.
The Rwenzori Mountains are not volcanic in origin but were forced up during the upheaval and formation of the Great Rift Valley.
The Rwenzori Mountains are the homelands of the Bakonjo and Bamba peoples who have lived in the foothills of the mountains for generations, and whose culture is adapted to the steep slopes and climate of the Rwenzori.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located 200km from the capital Kampala into Western Uganda within four district Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kasese districts and the East African Rift Valley.
Though the Primary activity in the Park is hiking and mountain climbing, the park also supports an impressive number of mammals including elephant, cats, chimpanzee, giant forest hog and shyer species of antelope such as duiker, as well as a diverse and variety of bird-life.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.
Large mammals that include: elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, bush buck, chimpanzee and leopard are present but rarely seen, however in the forest zone, droppings of elephants are frequently seen, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and unique animal species like the three horned chameleon.
The forest zone at an altitude of about 1800 hosts a diversity of birds that includes the Rwenzori Turaco, the barred long-tailed cuckoo, long eared owl, handsome francolin, cinnamon chested Bee-eater, Archer’s Robin chat, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis amongst many others. Through the tall bamboo forest, before emerging on the high-altitude moorland zone, a landscape of bizarre giant lobelias, towered over by black rock and white snow.
Activities in Mountain Rwenzori National Park
The Primary activity in the Park is hiking and mountain climbing with many more activities to enjoy on your visit to Mount Rwenzori National Park for those that are not interested in the hectic activity of hiking the Rwenzori. Some of the activities include:
- Mountain Climbing: Mountain Rwenzori has a lovely scenery on the mountain beautiful than no other on the planet as its covered in different types of vegetation. Mountain climbing on Mountain Rwenzori consists of two trails the Central Circuit trail and the Kilembe Trail to get to the peak of the mountain.
- Bird Watching: The montane forest offers the best birding opportunities with over 217 species and 17 of them can only be found in Rwenzori National Park
- Hiking: Day hikes can be enjoyed through the forests at the foothills, communities like Ruboni and Turaco also offer guided forest walks of various lengths just outside the park.
- Wildlife Viewing: There is alot of wildlife in Rwenzori National Park as it is home to 18 species of mammals, 217 species of birds. 9 species of reptiles and 6 species of amphibians
- Cultural Encounters: The Park is also a cultural heritage for the neighboring communities with 18 charismatic sacred sites that have been identified, mapped and protected as worship areas.
Accommodation in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Accommodation in Rwenzori Mountains National Park ranges from luxury/upmarket accommodations to midrange/standard accommodations to the budget accommodations to suit the visitor’s budget.
- Hotel Margherita: This is a luxury lodge located at the foothills of the Mountain Rwenzori, offering views of a breathtaking Rwenzori ranges and its beautiful alpine botany
- Rwenzori International Hotel: This is a standard lodge located at the foot of the Mountain Rwenzori ranges and 3km from the Kasese airstrip.
- Katara Lodge: This is a luxury lodge situated 45 km from Kasese town offering views of Queen Elizabeth and the Rwenzori ranges, farm lands and beautiful bird species –
- Equator Snow Lodge: This is an upmarket establishment located at the foothills of the mountain, 2.3km from the center of Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
- Ruboni Community Camp: This lodge is located in the Foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains in the village of Ruboni, offering great views of the Rwenzori Mountains
How to get to the Rwenzori Mountains
From Kampala City to Kasese will take you about 5 ½ hours drive and a four wheel drive vehicle is advisable since western Uganda is mountainous. Kasese town can be reached from Kampala via Fort Portal road (375km) or via Mbarara and Queen Elizabeth National park (450km).
Chartered flights from Kampala at either Kajjansi airfield or Entebbe International with Aero link can be arranged and it takes only about 1 ½ hours to Kasese.
Climate and best time to Visit Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The best time to climb the Rwenzori mountain is from June through to August and from December to February. January-February and July-August are the driest months, but heavy rain is possible at any time, so come prepared. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is chilly and wet, you should expect daytime temperatures of 10-15°C, with much colder nights.
Located: Bundibugyo, Kasese, Western Uganda
Area: 998 km²
Size: Almost 1,000 km² in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak
Best time to go: June through to August and from December to February.