Rwenzori Mountains National Park has the highest mountain ranges in Africa. Its highest point lies at 5109m above sea level on Mt Stanley’s Margherita peak is the third highest in Africa. It lies astride the equator with six peaks and three of these i.e. Mt Stanley, Mt Baker and Mt Speke are permanently covered with snow. The park covers an area of 996 km2. . It was recognized as a UNESCO world Heritage site in 1994 and was listed by world geographic among the best hikes in the world. It lies in western Uganda about 6 hours’ drive from Kampala.
Rwenzori is known as ‘mountains of the moon’ a name given to it by Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150. Locally known as Ruwenzori,is translated as “rain maker” or “cloud-king.” The Rwenzori is not volcanic like East Africa’s other major mountains but is a block of rock up faulted through the floor of the western Rift valley. The hike will take you through varied vegetation covers which include montane forest, bamboo forest, tree heath, hagenia-rapanea scrub and afro-alpine moorland.
Wildlife in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Animals of Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The park hosts 70 mammal species including Elephants, giant forest hog, Rwenzori Otter, duikers, bushbucks and Leopard -but are hardly seen. Primates such as blue monkeys, Angola colobus monkey, black-and-white colobus monkeys and Chimpanzees.
Birds of Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The park is home to over 177 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics. Most are found in the forest zone, they include; Rwenzori Turaco, Long eared owl, Archers’ Robin-chat, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed and Golden-winged sunbird, white-starred Robin, Slender-billed Starling, and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater etc.
The mountain ranges boast of 20 lakes with Lake Mahoma being the most accessible. Lake Bajuku lies in the valley of Mts Stanley, Baker and Speke. Dams created a string on 8 beautiful lakes on the Nyamwamba trail.
Safaris and Activities to do in Mt Elgon National Park
Hikers should consider symptoms and treatment of hypothermia and other forms of altitude sickness. Above 2500 m, altitude sickness can affect anyone regardless of age, fitness, or previous mountain hiking experience. The most effective treatment is descent to lower altitude. Carry the following basic items for your hike, sleeping bag, warm clothing
A trip into the Rwenzoris is an exhilarating and rewarding experience but adequate preparation should be made. The key to an enjoyable visit is to be prepared! The conditions on the mountain are a challenge to even an experienced hiker. The central hike circuit takes six nights or seven days and reaches an altitude of 4,267m above the sea level. While on the hike you will spend nights at various huts which are well maintained and you will have porters to help with the luggage you need to go along with. There are different starting points for different trails you can take on your hike – Nyakalengija central circuit and Kilembe trail are located near Kasese town whereas Kazingo (nature walk trailhead) is located near Fort portal town. For those not in for the entire trail, you can have 3 days in the lower foothills of the mountains that take you through beautiful scenery and birding spots.
Carry a sleeping bag, warm clothing, raincoat, waterproof over trousers, plastic bags for wet clothing and plenty of snacks.
Bird watching in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountain’s is one of the best birding spots in Ugandabeing a habitat for some of the Albertine riftendemic. It has varied vegetation, which enables different bird species to call it home; the best bird watching is in the montane forest. Do not miss out the Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared Owl, Bearded vultures, and swifts.
Nature and Hiking walks
The communities adjacent to the park offer guided walks along the slopes of mountain Rwenzori. One can follow River Mubuku for views of Baker and portal peaks or sometimes views of the highest peak – Margherita. Look out for squirrels, Vervet monkeys, chameleons and several spectacular birds.
Cultural encounters and Community trails
Engage with the Bakonzo living on the foothills of the Rwenzoris. Take a trail where you watch them as they demonstrate their daily activities like gardening and animal husbandry, preparingdaily meals – from farm to meal. Take a visit to the black smith, traditional healer, basket weavers, and dance and storytelling performances. Alternatively, you can take a trail to culture sites of the Bakonzo through the holy valley; this trail takes in total about 7 hours.
Access to Rwenzori Mountains national park
You can reach the park from Kampala via Fortportal or via Mbarara. You can also take scheduled or chartered flight from Entebbe to Kasese Airfield.
Rwenzori Mountains national park Lodges and Camps