Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda
The 120km Rwenzori chain is regarded to be the legendary snow-capped mountains of the moon, described by Ptolemy in AD 150. Reaching an elevation of 5,109m, it is also Africa’s third tallest mountain range exceeded in altitude by the only free-standing Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The distinctive glacial peaks are visible for miles around, but the slopes above 1,600m are the preserve of the hikers, who rate the Rwenzori to be the most challenging to climb of all the African mountains.A variety of large mammals inhabit the lower slopes, but the Rwenzori are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation. The trails lead you through a rainforest rattling with monkeys and birds, then tall bamboo forests before emerging on the high-altitude moorland zone which is a landscape of bizarre giant lobelias, towered over by black rock and white snow, looking for the entire world as a set of science fiction film.
If you are interested in the most experiential hikes, a visit to Mount Rwenzori National Park gets you the best of thrilling hiking experience. This park is situated about 400 kilometers away from Kampala city center, western Uganda and it is bordered by Kabarole, Kasese, and Budibugyo district. This park derived its name from the scenic Rwenzori Mountain ranges which feature the 3rd highest snow peak in Africa and comprises 6 mountains-Stanley, Emin, Gessi, Savioa, Speke, and Baker. It is composed of a rare vegetation zone comprising of the bamboo, moist montane forest, moorland, and others. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area of about 1000 square kilometers and boasts of its rare plant species, over 70 mammal species, 217 bird species 19 of which are Albertine rift endemics, waterfalls, the magical Rwenzori mountain ranges among others. A hike to the top of this mountain may last you about 9 or more days to get to the Margherita peak and it is ideal for those who are physically well.
The Rwenzori’s are the legendary “Mountains of the Moon” which was gazetted to a National park in 1991 and became known as Rwenzori Mountains National Park and it is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority. The headquarters of the national park is in Nyakalenjija village along the Mubuku valley. The Congolese part of the Rwenzori is also part of the Virunga National Park.
Since 1994 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering an area of 99,600 hectares in western Uganda (or 996 square km), 70% of which exceeds an altitude of 2,500 m, the Rwenzori mountains comprise an extremely steep and rugged mountain range for 120 km along the Uganda and Congo border. It includes six glaciers peaks: Mt.Stanley, Mt.Speke (4.890m), Mt.Baker, Mt.Gessi (on the Congolese side, 4.715 m), and Mt. Emin (4.791 m). Mt. Luigi di Savoia. Mount Stanley, with Alexandra (5.083 m), Margherita (5,109 m), and Albert peaks (5.101 m) is the highest point. The park provides stunning views of the glacier and snow-capped mountains just kilometers from the equator further extending to the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The mountains consist of ancient rocks that were extruded from the surrounding plains during the formation of the western rift valley. These Precambrian rocks have produced soils of low fertility, except on parts of the northern ridge where volcanic ash from the Fort Portal plateau was deposited.
Size of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a Ugandan national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rwenzori Mountains. Almost 1,000 km2 (386 sq mi) in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers
Location of Rwenzori mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is located in south-western Uganda on the east side of the western (Albertine) African rift valley It lies along Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and borders the DRC’s Virunga national park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for 50 km (31 mi). It is situated in the Bundibugyo, Kabarole, and Kasese districts, 25 km (16 mi) from the small town of Kasese.
How to get to Rwenzori mountains National Park
This park is situated about 400 kilometers away from Kampala city center in western Uganda and it is bordered by Fort portal where Kibale forest national park is located, Kasese where Queen Elizabeth national park is located, and Bundibugyo district where Semuliki national park is located.
From Kampala-Fort portal via Mubende
The 361 km trip from Kampala takes you through Mityana, Mubende, Kyegegwa before entering Kibale forest national park and exiting to the beautiful tea plantations in Fort portal before driving through to the mountain range before turning 8 km before Kasese town.
From Kampala-Kasese via Mbarara- Bushenyi
The 384 km trip takes you through Mpigi, Masaka, Lyantonde before entering lake Mburo national park area where you expect to see long-horned Ankle cattle before reaching Mbarara for a lunch break, then later continue to Bushenyi before entering the beautiful tea farms and Kalinzu forest, then you proceed to the Kyambura gorge chimpanzee escarpment then you will enter Queen Elizabeth national park then you will drive to Kasese town which is 15 km to the park headquarters in Nyakalengija.
There are domestic flights operated by Aerolink Uganda and Kampala executive aviation to Kasese airstrip near the Rwenzori national park
Things to do in Rwenzori mountains National Park
Mount Rwenzori National Park is home to magnificent Rwenzori mountain ranges which come with waterfalls, blue cirque Lakes, unique vegetation as well as 18 mammal species, 217 avifaunal species, 9 reptiles, elephants, leopards, chimpanzees, and many others.
Mountain climbing in Rwenzori National Park
Rwenzori Mountain range rewards hikers with the most thrilling adventure and while on a hike, you come across distinct vegetation zones, glaciers and not to forget magical views over its peaks and surrounding areas. Hiking to the peak of this mountain requires some physical wellness in you. This mountain features Mount Stanley, Vittorio Emmanuelle which stands at 4889 meters on Mount Speke, Edward at 4842 meters on Mount Baker.
As well, you can also take a 7-day trek around the central tourism circuit and a 5-day trek on the Kilembe route to the southern parts of the park.
Nature walks Rwenzori National Park
If you can’t make it up to the Margherita peak, there is a better option for you to and that is nothing other than nature walks. On a nature walk, you have a chance to sight at varied plant species, meet the Bakonzo communities for you to learn more about their cultures and traditions.
Birding trips in Rwenzori National Park
With over 217 bird species that are confined within this park, birders are never left out. Mount Rwenzori National Park boasts of its diverse bird species and while on a birding tour, the birds to spot out include barred long-tailed cuckoo, long-eared owl, Rwenzori Turaco, slender-billed starling, Lagden’s bush shrike, blue-headed sunbird, barbets, golden-winged sunbird, greenbul, handsome francolin, strange weaver, illadopsis, crimson wings, flycatchers, cinnamon chested bee-eaters and many more.
Cultural encounters in Rwenzori National Park
A safari to Mount Rwenzori National Park never goes without a visit to the nearby local communities to experience the African cultures. A cultural tour in this park gets you a chance to learn more about the cultural lifestyles and what they do each day learn more about drumming and unique dances among others. You can also head off to Ruboni village for you to explore more about their lifestyles and other interesting things.
When to visit Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Mount Rwenzori National Park is located along the equator and because of this; most parts are wet compared to other parts in East Africa. The highest rainfall amount is experienced in the eastern slopes and rains kick start from March to May and from September to mid-December. For an excellent tour, you can opt to travel to this park from June to September as most parts remain relatively drier. This area experiences a temperature range of about 5 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Where to stay in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori has extremely few accommodation facilities at the base of the mountains but few are situated there and many travelers usually stay in Kasese town and nearby Kibale forest national park or Queen Elizabeth national park.
The Equator snow lodge
This is also set at the base of the mountain and offers luxury accommodation services. Below it, there is a roaring Mubuku River and its cottages are constructed using the river rocks thus making it a few exceptionally rare facilities for one to spend a night while on safari in this park.
Ruboni community rest camp
This is perfect budget accommodation run by the community situated in a nice secondary forest making visitors have unique views of the open vast lowland forest cover.
THINGS TO DO
|mountain hiking to margarita peak|
|3 horn chameleon tracking|
HOW TO GET THERE
|How to get to Rwenzori national park|
|1 Day Rwenzori Hikes|
|4 Days Rwenzori birding tour|
|7 Days margarita peak expedition|
WHEN TO GO
|Best time to visit Rwenzori national park|
WHERE TO STAY
|Ruboni community camp|
|Equartor snow Lodge|
|Kluges guest farm|
|Ihamba lakeside Lodge|
|Sandton hotel Kasese|