RWENZORI MOUNTAINS. Africa's 'mountains of the moon' travel guide.

Mountaineering is a popular attraction to the visitor who loves the snow capped peaks of mount Rwenzori popularly known as the “mountains of the moon” and mount Elgon. These mountaineering destinations offer the best of Africa The park is located in the western part of Uganda on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park has an area of 998 sq km and was named after the famous Rwenzori Mountains which are also referred to as the legendary “Mountains of the Moon''.

RWENZORI MOUNTAINS. Africa's 'mountains of the moon' travel guide.
RWENZORI MOUNTAINS. Africa's 'mountains of the moon' travel guide.

Rwenzori Mountain is one of Africa’s tallest mountain ranges with an elevation of 5,109m. The Rwenzori range has 6 major peaks which include, 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).

It lies along Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and borders the DRC’s Virunga national park. It is located in the Bundibugyo, kabarole and kasese districts. The park was established in 1991 and was reorganized as a World Heritage site in 1994 because of its outstanding beauty. The park has Africa’s third highest Mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes and glaciers. The mountain is the highest mountain range in the whole of Africa with Africa’s third highest mountain peak, 6 glacial peaks; Mount speke, Mount stanley, Mount Gessi, Mount Emin Pasha, Mount Luigi da Sovoia as well as Mount Baker.

The equatorial snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, while the lowest slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist Montane forest. Huge tree heathers and colourful mosses are draped across the mountain side with giant lobelias and ‘everlasting flowers’ creating an enchanting, good scene.

Unlike other volcanic mountains in East Africa, The Rwenzori Mountain is a block mountain. They are a world- class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine to twelve day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita, the highest peak. More so, the park is a habitat to 70 mammals and 17 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics.

Activities

Mountain climbing is one of the activities carried out in the park. The scenery on the mountain has been known for some of the most beautiful features on the earth. Mountain Rwenzori is covered in different types of vegetation and climate which will leave you in bound as you scale its heights. On the foothills of the mountain is farmland with crops such as coffee. From there you will behold beautiful land terrain and plant life of sub Montane vegetation in the Afro- Montane zone covered by rich tropical evergreen forest with a high richness in color and species. On reaching the top you will see the snow capped peaks.

Bird watching cannot be left out in this Mountain because the Rwenzori Park is a habitat to 217 bird species and 17 of them can only be found in Rwenzori. These birds include; the Rwenzori Turaco, Banned long tailed cuckoo, Blue headed sunbird, Golden winged sunbird, Strange weaver, Barbets, long eared owl, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Batis, Montane sooty, Boubou, Lagden’s bush shrike, Cinnamon chested Bee – eater, Archers’ Robin chat, White-starred, Fly caters and Crimsonwings.

You can also enjoy a day hike through the forests at the foothills. With this activity, you can also carry out fishing with your hands in the streams.

The park has also got a wide variety of large mammals which inhabit the lower slopes. These include elephants, buffaloes, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, duikers, forest hogs, hyrax and leopards. Rwenzori National park is also one of the most important bird areas in Uganda. The park has recorded 195 species which include the Rwenzori Turaco, Francolins, Olive Pigeon, White Necked Raven and Mountain Buzzards, as well as other rare, threatened and endemic species. Hiking is the major holiday activity to undertake in the park.

Getting there

The Park can be accessed by both road transport and air transport. For those who want to travel by air a private charter flight can be arranged for you to Kasese air strip where a transfer to the park can be made. Nyakalengija trailhead lies off the Fort Portal road, 22km from Kasese. Transport can be arranged in Kasese.

Accommodation

Accommodation facilities in and around Rwenzori Mountain National Park are; Hotel Margherita is found at the foothills of the Mountain, Rwenzori International hotel and Equator snow lodge for luxury, Katara lodge for mid-range and Tropical savannah guest house for budget range

Resources

To learn more about planning a trip in SEMULIKI, get updates from the following websites

 Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters,

wikipedia.org-Rwenzori Mountains National Park

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