The Rwenzori Mountains… the fabled “mountains of the moon” (first described by the Greek philosopher and geographer Ptolemeus in the 2nd Century) … are capped with a splendid world of ice and snow, massive ice-rime sculptures and wonderful and luxuriant alpine vegetation. They provide a magnificent environment for both experienced climbers and casual day hikers. The lower slopes are great hiking country and the scenic beauty is a backdrop to a unique habitat for many rare and endemic plants and animals.
The Rwenzori Range, 120 km long and 48 km wide, is a huge block of precambrian rock rising to over 5000 m high, making it the highest non-volcanic mountain in Africa. Unlike Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya which are of volcanic origin, the mountain chain was forced up during the formation of the East African Rift Valley system (in the Poliocene and Quartenary era). The range includes the third highest peak in Africa, the 5,109m Mt. Stanley (named after the explorer who saw the mountains in his 1887 expedition), Mt. Alexandria (5,083 m) and Mt. Speke (4,089 m).
Rwenzori means “rainmaker”, and the areas’ average annual rainfall is 5mm. The ice covered peaks are only visible a few days in the year.
Best Time to Go Hiking
The best time to visit is during the dry months: July to August, and December to January.
Decreasing temperatures with increasing altitude have resulted in a remarkable zoning of vegetation. The most striking plants can be found above 3,000 m, where areas of giant tree heathers support unique aerial epiphytic gardens. The alpine zone includes the giant lobelias and groundsels, hallmarks of the Rwenzori.
Among the animals found in the Rwenzori are chimpanzee, colobus monkey and other primates, leopard, forest hog, elephant and Rock Hyrax. You may spot the three-horned chameleon – an important part of local folklore. The birdlife is magnificent, and includes the Rwenzori Turaco, francolin, olive pigeon and the white-necked raven.
The local people, the Bakorio, are a sturdy mountain people, many of whom work for Rwenzori Mountaineering Services.
Tours to Rwenzori Mountains National Park can be conducted at anytime of the year but the dry months are the most ideal. The drier months in RMNP start from June to August, December to February.
What to carry for Rwenzori Safari
The key items you will need for your Rwenzori Mountaineering include among many hiking/climbing boots, sleeping bags, comfortable clothing, rain jacket, gloves, medical kit, daypack, rain boots etc.
Activities in the Park
The trek of Central Circuit Trail usually takes six to seven days. Shorter trips can be arranged but do not reach the high peaks. Hiking is arduous and the weather may be poor. “Trekking the Rwenzoris”, a brochure, is available from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Climbing the Rwenzoris
Information on climbs, and details of guides (mandatory) and potters can be obtained from:
Along the Central Circuit, huts are available at convenient stopping points . Food and camping equipment are provided.
- Hotel accommodation is available in Kasese.
- There is a Rwenzori Mountaineering Services hostel at the Nyakalegija park headquarters.
- Equator Snow Hotel at Kilembe
- Kilembe Hostels for budget travelers
The best places for you book for overnight stay at Rwenzori Mountains National Park include a luxurious Equator Snow Lodge, Ruboni Community Camp, Rwenzori International Hotel, Hotel Margherita & Campsites.
How to Reach the Park
There are 2 best alternatives for tourists to get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park; by road or by air. By road, there are 2 routes to take; firstly, start from Kampala through Mubende-Fort Portal city to Rwenzori Mountains National Park or drive from Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara via Kasese. Or fly from Entebbe Airport/Kajjansi airfield to Kasese airfield.
Kasese is 433 km (7 hours) northwest of Kampala via Mbarara on the main tarmac road. The left turn to Nyakalengija is 10 km north of Kasese on the Fort Portal road. Park headquarters and Rwenzori Mountaineering Services are at Nyakalengija. 4WD is recommended, but two-wheel drive can do it. An airstrip is located at Kasese.
– Entrance Fees in US$35 per 24 Hour Visit.
– The shortest trip to capture the snow capped mountains is a 7 Days Rwenzori Trek. For experienced hikers, you can also make it in 5 Days.
You can plan and book an organised mountaineering trip with the following tour operators.