Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda Safari Attractions, Activities, Accommodations & How To Get To Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Find Here ALL Important Information About Rwenzori Mountains National Park In Uganda Such As- Rwenzori Mountains Trekking Safaris In Uganda, Attractions In Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon), Activities, Rwenzori Mountains National Park Accommodation/Lodges (Where To Stay), How To Get A Rwenzori Mountains Trekking Permit, Rwenzori Mountains Trekking Tips/Advice, What To Wear For Hiking The Mountains Of The Moon, When To Go (Best Time To Go) And Trek Rwenzori Mountains In Uganda.
996km2 in size, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one of Uganda’s least visited natural wonders, but if you’re an experienced mountain trekker, keen birder, or nature lover, Rwenzori trekking is a must-do Uganda adventure safari activity.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its exceptional natural beauty. It protects Africa’s tallest mountain range at 5109m – the legendary “Mountains of the Moon”, and is the best place for mountain hiking safaris in Uganda. The Rwenzori range is 120km-long and 65km-wide. It has the third-highest and 6 of the 10 tallest mountains in Africa. Its tallest peaks are perennially covered in snow, despite lying just kilometers from the Equator!
Rwenzori Mountains Park is also known for its pristine landscape of alpine vegetation studded with strange giant lobelias, groundsels, and heather that rank among the world’s botanical treasures, being found only in East Africa’s highest mountains. It also has bamboo and moist montane forests, V-shaped valleys, fast-flowing rivers, magnificent waterfalls, lakes, mammals, and 217 recorded species of birds in Uganda including 18 Albertine Rift Endemic.
Trekking to Rwenzori Mountains summits is only for the fit and the well-prepared, and it takes from 5 to 10 days. There are also a variety of 1-to 4- day hikes on lower slopes that are perfect for travelers who want to get a taste of Rwenzori Mountains National Park’s beautiful scenery and wildlife within a short period.
But even if you don’t trek in the Rwenzori, you’ll see them weather permitting. The little Fort Portal town, which is the jumping-off point for Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest, is located in the shadow of these mountains. Their glaciated peaks can be seen if the clouds part. Rwenzori also looms large in the distance behind Queen Elizabeth National Park, a fittingly dramatic backdrop for the tree-climbing lions, elephants, and thousands of hippos living here.
Location Of The Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains are located in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The park is situated in western Uganda, in the East African Rift Valley on the border with DR Congo. The nearest built-up area to the Rwenzori is the town of Kasese. Kasese is easily accessible by a 1-hour flight from Entebbe International Airport.
Alternatively, the road journey from Entebbe/Kampala City via Fort Portal takes about 370km (6-8 hours). If coming from Queen Elizabeth or Kibale National Parks, the journey takes about an hour. From the Uganda gorilla trekking safari destination of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest corner, it is about a 6-hour drive.
History Of Rwenzori National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park was gazetted in 1991 and declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 by UNESCO. In AD 150, a renowned ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy named the Rwenzori Mountains the “Mountains of the Moon”, a term which he used to describe the snow-capped mountain range from which the Nile River comes.
Henry Morton Stanley and his team became the first Europeans to see these ancient Mountains of the Moon in 1889. Stanley named the range ‘Ruwenzori,’ a native name that he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.” Rwenzoris’ highest peak Margherita was summited for the first time in 1906 by the Duke of the Abruzzi and his team.
How To Getting To Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda
You can get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park by road and air. The nearest built-up area to the Rwenzori Mountains is the city of Kasese. Kasese is easily accessible by a 1-hour flight from Entebbe International Airport.
Alternatively, the road journey from Entebbe/Kampala City, via Fort Portal takes 6-8 hours. If coming from Queen Elizabeth or Kibale National Parks, the journey takes about an hour. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest corner of Uganda (home to the mountain gorillas) is about a 6-hour drive.
Top Attractions In Rwenzori Mountains National Park ∣ Things To See On Your Rwenzori Mountains Adventures Safaris in Uganda
There is a lot of interesting things to see in Rwenzori National Park. The park is a World Heritage Site with spectacular snowcapped peaks, unusual flora, and surreal natural beauty. It is a breathtaking place for amazing treks, as it is home to Margherita Peak (5,109 m), Africa’s third-highest point! Below Are The Details About The Top Uganda Safari Attractions You Will See In Rwenzori Mountains National Park:
Rwenzori Mountains ∣ Mountains of the Moon ∣ Africa’s Tallest Mountain Range
The Rwenzori Mountains or the Mountains of the Moon are the tallest mountain range in Africa.
Rwenzori is not volcanic like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mt Kenya; it is a block mountain. It was formed about 3 million years ago when ancient gneissic, quartzite, and other crystalline rocks were forced up/uplifted from the base of the Albertine Rift by tectonic plate movement. The range is l20kms long and 65kms wide and has 6 of Africa’s 10 tallest Mountains including:
- Mount Stanley at 5109 meters
- Mount Speke at 4,890 meters
- Mount Baker at 4843 meters
- Mount Emin at 4,798 meters
- Mount Gessi at 4,715 meter
- Mount Luigi da Savoia at 4545 meters
Mounts Stanley, Speke, and Baker are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest mountains in Africa.
The Rare Rwenzori Glaciers & Snow
Despite being close to the Equator, the highest peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains are perennially snow-covered and support gorgeous glaciers. The term “glacier” is derived from the French word glace, which means “ice.” Glaciers are masses of ice located at the earth’s poles or atop Africa’s highest mountains of 5000m above sea level.
While science has an explanation for the existence of snow on Rwenzori, the local Bakonzo people who dwell in the foothills of this Uganda’s magnificent mountains have their own legendary version. According to their beliefs, their god, Kithasamba, lives in the snow, and that the snow on the Rwenzori Mountains is actually the frozen sperm of their god.
However, an ongoing concern is the impact of climate change on the Rwenzori glaciers. And if you are planning to climb Rwenzori to witness its snow, you should do it as soon as possible. A United Nations-backed report released on October 19th, 2021 reveals Africa’s Rare Glaciers on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Kenya, and Rwenzori will completely vanish in 2040 due to human-induced climate change.
Also in 1906, 43 named glaciers were distributed over Rwenzori’s 6 mountains with a total area of 7.5km2, about half the total glacier area in Africa. By 2005, less than half of them remained, on only the highest peaks of three Mountains including:
- Margherita Peak (5109m) on Mount Stanely
- Alexandra Peak (5091m) on Mount Stanely
- Albert Peak (5087m) on Mount Stanely
- Vittorio Emanuele Peak (4,890m) on Mount Speke
- Edward Peak (4843m) on Mount Baker
Distinctive Vegetation Zones Of Rwenzori Mountains
Another top Uganda safari attraction in Rwenzori Mountains National Park is its 5 distinctive vegetation zone. Climbers to the Rwenzori summits usually travel through five unique altitudinal vegetation zones, each with its own microclimate, flora, and species:
- Afro-montane forest 1,800 – 2,500 meters
- Bamboo Zone 2,500 – 3,000 meters
- Heather zone 3,000 – 4,000 meters
- Alpine zone 4000- 4500 meters
- Rock and glacier 4,500 -5109 meters
Africa’s Botanical Big Game
Rwenzori Mountains National Park’s flora has a significantly bigger impact on visitors on Rwenzori Mountains trekking adventures than the native fauna. This fantastic Uganda adventure safari destination is well known for its unique and pristine landscape of alpine vegetation studded with charismatic giant lobelias, groundsels, and heathers which have been called “Africa’s botanical big game” by UNESCO.
The misty, boggy, glacier-carved valleys of the high Rwenzori is also home to crisp “everlasting flowers,” garishly coloured mosses and gnarled trees draped with curtains of lichen. All these strange plants and others rank among the world’s botanical treasures, and can only be found in the highest mountains of East Africa.
A list of rare plants in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
- Giant lobelias & groundsels
- Crisp everlasting flowers
- Garishly coloured mosses
- Old Man’s Beard / pale grayish-green lichens
Beautiful Birds in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a great destination for birding in Uganda if you are a keen birder. The park has been recognized as an Important Bird Area with 217 Uganda bird species that have been recorded to date.
The park contains 18 Albertine endemics species of Uganda birds, the second-highest in Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has 23 Albertine endemics. There are also 17 Guinea-Congo Forest Biome species, as well as 60 of the 86 afro tropical highland biome species. Most of the birding in the forest zone and some rare and spectacular birds in Uganda to see include:
- Rwenzori Turaco
- Long-eared Owl
- Archers’ Robin-chat
- Lagden’s Bush-shrike
- Blue-headed Sunbird
- Golden-winged Sunbird
- Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird
- Regal Sunbird
- White-starred Robin
- Slender-billed Starling
- Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
- Bearded Vulture
- Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo
- Handsome Francolin
- Rwenzori Batis
- Montane Sooty Boubou
- Strange Weaver
- Ruwenzori Nightjar
- Stripe Breasted Tit
- Mountain Buzzard
- Black-billed Turaco
- Toro Olive Greenbul
- Dusky Flycatcher
- Abyssinian Ground Thrush
- Red-throated Alethe
- Collared Apalis
Animals Of Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Over 70 species of Uganda mammals live in Rwenzori National Park’s five unique vegetation zones including the Rwenzori climbing mouse and the Rwenzori red duiker which are found nowhere else in the world. The park’s montane forest is home to the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, Chimpanzees, Rwenzori colobus, Black-and-white colobus, Blue monkeys, Forest elephants, Buffaloes, Bushbucks, try hyrax and unique reptiles such as the three-horned chameleon.
Here is a list of notable animals in Rwenzori National Park:
- Three-horned chameleon
- Rwenzori Golden Mole
- Rwenzori Otter
- Blue Monkey
- L’Hoest’s Monkey
- Rwenzori Colobus Monkey
- Eastern Chimpanzee
- Ruwenzori Olive Squirrel
- Shaggy Swamp Rat
- Long-haired Mole Rat
- Golden Cat
- Serval Cat
- Rwenzori Leopard
- Forest Elephant
- Tree Hyrax
- Giant Forest Hog
- African Buffalo
- Red Forest Duiker
- Yellow-backed Duiker
People & Culture Around Rwenzori National Park
Rwenzori Mountain foothills are home to different tribes of people with unique cultures and customs that can be explored on your Uganda cultural tours around the area. These include:
The Bakonzo People
The Bakonzo are Bantu-speaking people and agriculturalists who inhabit the Ruboni Community and other areas on Rwenzori foothills. They are agriculturalists and are popularly known for their stocky build and hardy nature. Their origin is not well known. It is said that these people migrated westward from Mount Elgon, not settling anywhere until they found a similar montane environment to cultivate.
Legend also has it that, the founding ancestor of Bakonzo emerged from one of the caves in the Rwenzori−oddly echoing the prevalent creation legend among the Bagisu People of Mount Elgon. Like the Bagisu, the Bakonzo have no preeminent leader but are divided into several small clans each of which is associated with a particular spur on the Rwenzori foot slopes.
Bakonzo believes in their principal god, Kitasamba whose name may not be spoken on the mountain. He resides in the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori.
Bakonzo Traditional Hunting Culture
Agriculture has always been the main food-producing activity of the Bakonzo, but hunting also plays an important role in their traditional society, partly as a sport, but also for food.
The spirit of hunting, and shepherd of all wild animals, is one-eyed, one-legged, one-armed being Kalisa, known for addiction to pipe smoking, as well as his partiality to fresh meat.
Before setting off on any hunting trip, Bakonzo men traditionally leave an offering of matoke or chicken to Kalisa in a shrine consisting of a pair of small hut-like shelters (the largest 1 meter high) made of bamboo and/or thatch, then place a small fence of bamboo stakes across their path to prevent evil spirits from following. After a successful hunt, a further offering of meat offcuts is left for Kalisa at the site of the slaughter.
Top Activities In Rwenzori Mountains National Park ∣ Things To Do On Your Rwenzori Mountains Uganda Adventure Safaris
Trekking to the Rwenzori Mountains’ snow-capped peaks is probably the highlight of many Uganda safari tours to Rwenzori Mountains National Park. But there are so many more things to do in Rwenzori National Park includes short hikes on the lower slopes and peaks, nature walks, camping, bird watching, community and cultural tours in Uganda, and more. Below Are The Details About The Top Uganda Safari Activities In Rwenzori Mountains National Park:
- Rwenzori Mountains Trekking
Rwenzori Mountains National Park offers 2 categories of trekking experiences to travelers on adventure safaris in Uganda: the short Uganda mountain treks on the lower slopes and the challenging long Rwenzori Mountains trek to the peaks. Short Rwenzori Mountain trekking tours won’t take you beyond 4,000m and typically last 2-4 days. The challenging trek to the Rwenzori Mountains peaks takes above 4,000 meters and lasts between 5-10 days.
Rwenzori Trekking Routes
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is traversed by 2 hiking trails, one starting at Kilembe in the south and the other at Nyakalengija about 20km further north. These trails pass through a fascinating succession of attitudinally defined vegetation zones, ranging from Afro-montane forest to spectacular Afro-alpine moorland, and the scenery can be breathtakingly beautiful.
Central Circuit Trail
This is the oldest and most popular route in Rwenzori Mountains National Park, offering an exciting and superbly scenic experience to travelers on hiking safaris in Uganda. The circuit starts from Nyakalengija trailhead, which lies off the Fort Portal Road about 25 kilometers northwest of Kasese town. Hikes on this circuit can be booked through reputable Uganda tour operators.
The standard circuit is six days and five nights, but extra nights are required to ascend Margherita or any other peaks. Mount Speke is reached from Bujuku hut, where you will need to spend an extra night to allow you a full day to summit and return.
To summit the 5109m, Margherita peak, you will need to spend a night at Elena hut (4541 meters), 2 kilometers off the Central Trail Circuit, and 3-4 hours on foot either Bujuku or Kitandara huts. The Central Circuit Trail is operated by Rwenzori Mountaineering Services.
Based out of Kilembe 14km west of Kasese town, the southerly Kilembe Circuit Trail follows a combination of trails along/between the Nyamugasani, Kamusoni, and Nyamwamba River valleys to reach the peak area.
This route was first used by Professor Scott Elliot in 1895, 11 years before Luigi di Savoia pioneered the more direct route from Nyakalengija via Bujuku River Valley.
Coming from the Kilembe Trailhead, the hiking distance to the peaks is significantly longer than on the established Central Circuit and the ascent of Margherita will push the duration of the excursion to 9 days unless you are very fit.
On the plus side, the trail runs through some pristine and astonishingly beautiful landscape, most of which had been unvisited by hikers for decades before the trail opening. All hikes on this route are operated by Rwenzori Trekking Services, which has a top reputation when it comes to guiding and safety standards.
The Challenging Trek To The Rwenzori Mountains Peaks
If you want to really stretch your legs and have some experience hiking at high mountain peaks, then you can trek to the Rwenzori peaks. The trekking routes up the summits offer some of the best hiking experiences in the world. The challenging treks start with a 5-day trek to Weismann’s peak. All the treks going to the technical summits of Margherita Peak (5,109m), Mount Baker (4,844m), and Mount Speke (4,890m) requires you to be fit.
The trail can be slippery, steep, and uneven, and to the summit, you’ll also need a good head for heights. Towards the top, the route is classed as a difficult scramble, often snowy and icy, and the final climb up Margherita glacier is demanding. At the end of the glacier, you will also have to climb around an exposed section of rock, which is bolted and roped, before reaching the ridge that runs to the top of Margherita Peak.
On your hike to the peaks, you’ll be camping or sleeping in simple mountain huts along the route, accompanied by guides who not only know the route but are knowledgeable about the wildlife, birdlife, and strange flora you’ll see.
- Do not try to climb the Rwenzori Mountains peaks unless you are reasonably fit.
- Also, do not attempt to climb Rwenzori peaks if you have lung or heart problems.
- Hikers may not feel hungry once they are above 3000 meters, but they should try to eat. Fruits and carbohydrates are recommended.
- At least drink 3 liters of liquid daily and bring enough water bottle to carry this. This is because one of the most common causes of failure to complete mountain climbing is dehydration.
Short Scenic Treks in Rwenzori National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park also provides a selection of 1- to 4-day hikes on lower slopes, which are suitable for those who wish to get a taste of the Rwenzori Mountains’ spectacular beauty and animals in a short amount of time. These climbs complement the places on a western Uganda safari circuit wonderfully.
The Rwenzori National Park is approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park, a 1-hour drive from Kibale National Park, and 6 hours’ drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The gateway city of Kasese is easily accessible if traveling south from Murchison Falls National Park. Here are some of the 1-to-4 day Rwenzori Mountains trek options you can add to your Uganda safari packages.
One Day Nature Walk in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori National Park also offers one-day nature walks that can take you up to an altitude of about 2,373m. The hikes take you through lovely pristine montane forests with majestic trees towering above the deep undergrowth. Your experienced guides will describe the complex dimensions of the many flora and trees, as well as the various types of birds and primates such as blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, and colobus monkeys.
You may also come across chimp nests or hear their calls echoing across the jungle. You also have a chance to encounter shy species such as Bushpigs, forest elephants, buffalos, duikers, and others. You will pass through various streams and rivers with magnificent riverine woodlands where you will encounter kingfishers and other water-loving species. These hikes, which include a delicious packed lunch, begin at around 8.30 a.m. and end at around 3 p.m.
Two Days Hike in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The hike usually starts at around 8.30 am and 10.00 am. If you follow, the Kilembe Trail this hike takes you from Rwenzori Trekkers’ hostel at 1,450m to Kalama Camp at 3134m.
On Day 1:
You hike up to Sine Hut at 2,596m which is just below the bamboo zone. You walk through montane with multitudes of birds and primates. At 200 meters from Sine Hut, you see the beautiful Enock’s falls and you will enjoy views of brightly clouded green lichen that grow on the many lives hanging from the trees. If you are fit, you can continue from Sine Hut to Kalama Camp at 3134m where there are giant heathers and numerous birds that nest on them. The cam also offers fantastic views of cliffs above, lowlands below, and Lake Edward in Queen Elisabeth National Park.
On Day 2:
If you slept at Kalalama Camp, you can hike a bit higher to observe the mosses growing on the ground, logs, and trees before descending the mountain. If you chose to stay in Sine Camp, you may either stroll straight down the forest path or trek up to Kalalama Camp to enjoy the views before returning to the park gate to the hostel or continuing to your next Uganda safari destination.
Three Days Hike in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
If you follow the central circuit trail, this trek takes you from Nyabitaba to John Matte Hut at 3505m.
On Day 1:
You hike from Nyakalengija (1,615m) to Nyabitaba camp (2651m). Arrive early in the morning to give yourself enough time to rent equipment and meet your guides and porters. The 6-7 hour trek begins by passing through farmland to the park boundary, after which it follows a thick forest along the Mubuku River, crossing its tributary Mahoma River, before beginning a lengthy, steep climb up onto a large ridge to reach Nyabitaba hut. You may hear chimps and observe black and white colobus, blue monkeys, and the brightly colored Rwenzori turaco during this portion of the hike.
On Day 2:
You trek from Nyabitaba to the 3505-meter-high John Matte Hut. On this 7-8 hour hike, you will follow a track that descends through the forest to the Kurt Shafer Bridge, which is located right below the junction of the Mubuku and Bujuku rivers. You go through the bamboo forest and across a long and difficult stretch of slippery moss-covered rock. Mount Stanley and Mount Speke can be viewed from the Nyamuleju rock shelter before entering the zone of gigantic heather, lobelia, and groundsel. After a tiring trek through the bog, you arrive at John Matte Hut for dinner and an overnight stay.
On Day 3:
You descend for 5-6 hours from John Matte downs through the same path to Nyabitaba Camp for lunch. After lunch, return for 3-4 hours to Nyakalengija for an overnight stay at base camp hotels or to your next Uganda safari location.
Four Days Hike in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
This hike can also follow the central circuit trail from Nyakalengija trailhead at 1,615m to Bujuku Camp at 3,962m above sea level. The first and second days are the same as those described in the three-day trek above.
On Day 3:
You trek for around 4-5 hours from John Matte Hut at 3505m to Bujuku Hut and then descend to John Matte Hut. The trail descends to cross Bujuku River and reach lower Bigo Bog, which is home to giant lobelias. The bog is ultimately traversed by jumping from the boardwalk up to the upper Bigo bog. The upper Bigo bog gives way to Bujuku Lake, with views of Mt Baker and Mt Stanley to the south and west, respectively. Bujuku Hut is located in a small valley below Stuhlmann Pass, in the shadow of Mount Baker and Mount Speke.
On Day 4:
You descend for around 5-6 hours from John Matte, trekking down from the same path to Nyabitaba Camp for lunch. After lunch, descend for around 3-4 hours down to Nyakalengija, where you may either spend the night in one of the base camp hotels or continue to your next Uganda safari destination.
- Birding In Rwenzori Mountains National Park
With 217 recorded species of Uganda birds, including 18 Albertine Rift Endemics, Rwenzori National Park is a great place for birding in Uganda. On your Rwenzori Uganda birding tours, you can ascend to any height or location, although most Rwenzori Mountains National Park birds are found flitting through the montane forest zone at around 1,800m. Here you find the striking Rwenzori turaco – a jewel-colored beauty with red wings – the beautiful cinnamon-chested bee-eater, and various sunbirds, robins, and barbets.
- Community & Cultural Tours Around Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park provide several chances for interactive Uganda cultural tours experiences, ranging from village visits to drumming and dance classes, among other things. The following are the top Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda cultural safari experiences:
Explore the Ruboni Village
The Ruboni Village, home to over 20000 Bakonzo, is a perfect place to spend a day relaxing in the shadows of the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.
In fact, most visitors come here while preparing for their Rwenzori trekking activities. Here, you experience the cultural traditions of the Bakonzo people who have lived on the foothills of this for centuries. You’ll learn about their way of life, the crops that they grow, livestock that they keep, their art and craft, and their remarkable music, dance, and drama.
Bulemba -Ihandiro Cultural Trail
The Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail provides breathtaking views as well as exploration of the local Bakonzo culture.
It is a 6-7 hour cultural walk through the holy valley and other culturally significant locations of Bakonzo. A community guide will introduce you to the traditional healer, who will explain his powers, and to the local blacksmith, who will explain the spiritual significance of the traditional Bakonzo stool. Along the way, basket weaving and fire-making abilities are also demonstrated. The route then crosses the Kamusonge River, whose waters are said to be sweet and quick to quench thirst.
There is a break in a hut to enjoy the wonderful mountain views and shelter from the equatorial sun, before continuing on the final hour-long walk to the museum, thatched in the traditional Konzo style. On exhibit are implements used during the Rwenzururu struggle, traditional dress, and the other items of historical and cultural importance to the people of the Rwenzoris.
Best Rwenzori Mountains National Park Accommodation ∣ Lodges, Camps & Hotels For Your Rwenzori Mountains Trekking Tour
Before or after hiking/climbing the Rwenzori Mountains, there are several lodges, hotels, and camps where you can stay – ranging from Budget, Midrange to Luxury, located in the foothills of the mountain.
While on the Rwenzori Mountains Hiking Uganda safari adventure, the only option is basic wooden mountain huts that are perfect for keeping out the worst of the weather and for storing equipment required on different sections of the trail. Several huts with bunk beds (dormitory style) and mattresses are located at strategic points along the trekking circuit.
Twins or singles are not available as the huts are built to minimize their impact on the environment, which means efficiency over comfort! You will need to bring a good 4 season sleeping bag. This is the reason that porters are recommended to help carry your luggage.
Top Places To Stay Before Or After Your Rwenzori Trekking Safari
The Equator Snow Lodge – Luxury
Equator Snow Lodge is a popular lodge in the region, located next to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park gate. It was open in 2012 and since then it has provided quality accommodation for both seasoned mountaineers and first-time hikers alike.
Equator Snow Lodge works with the Ruboni Community and Rwenzori Mountaineering Services to deliver a programme of outdoor activities from low endurance hikes to trekking to the peaks. The lodge has 4 spacious rooms which contain 1 double bed and 2 single beds.
- Amazing views of the Rwenzori Mountains peaks
- 4 spacious rooms with a double bed and 2 single beds
- Rooms are well-equipped with large bathrooms and hot showers
- Has a well-stocked bar
- The lodge’s restaurant serves 3-course meals
- Solar-powered electricity
Sandton Hotel Kasese – Midrange
Sandton Hotel is located in the Heart of Kasese business town along Rwenzori Street opposite Stanbic Bank. From Entebbe via Fort Portal, it’s 393 km a 4 hrs. From Kasese to Queen Elizabeth National Park it’s 25 km a 30 minutes drive and to Kilembe Mines it’s 7 km.
- 24 twin executive rooms, 31 Double Deluxe Rooms & Single rooms
- Amenities include Air Conditioned Rooms, Satellite TV.
- Each Accommodation offers complete privacy and safety with a Free Internet Café
- Terrace and a bar
- Free Wi-Fi and a restaurant.
- Every room has a private bathroom
Hotel Margherita – Midrange
Hotel Margherita is situated some few kilometers west of Kasese town on the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. The hotel Margherita attends to her Guests with courtesy and warm hospitality that makes you feel that you are really part of the entire Rwenzori experience.
- 36 rooms ranging from Executive Suites, Standard Double to Single rooms.
- An apartment flat that can accommodate a family of 5.
- Room amenities include a dressing table, master bathroom, work desk, Satellite TV, Wi-Fi, & private balcony
- A beautiful gardens
- A well-stocked souvenir shop
- Indoor dining and terrace restaurant
Rwenzori Trekkers Hostel – Budget
Rwenzori Trekkers Hostel is located in Kyanjuki village, Kilembe – about 12km from Kasese. It is the best place to begin and end your Rwenzori Mountains climbing safari in Uganda. It offers amazing views Nyamwamba River and the Rwenzori Mountains. The Hostel is situated at 1,450 meters and has a lovely climate even in January and February. The accommodation options at Rwenzori Trekkers Hostel include:
- Single room
- Double room (not self-contained)
Ruboni Community Camp – Budget
Ruboni Community Camp is situated on a hillside next to the main gate of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The camp has been an innovator in community tourism within the local area and is fully owned and operated by the Bakonzo community who have lived in the foothills of the Rwenzoris for 1000s of years.
Although Ruboni Community Camp is ideal for mountaineers, it is also an exciting environment for travelers who want to take their adventures at a leisurely pace. It provides a range of activities that will immerse you in the nature and culture of the Rwenzori Mountains, including a traditional dance performance and an overnight hill walk.
- Located next to Rwenzori Mountains National Park gate
- Fully owned and operated by the Bakonzo community
- Offer a range of one-day guided walks in Rwenzori National Park
- Has a campsite, 6 individual rooms with private washrooms & 3 self-contained bandas
- The restaurant serves typical Ugandan and continental dishes
- Hydro powered lighting
- Balcony/veranda with mountain views
Frequently Asked Questions About Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Where Are The Rwenzori Mountains?
The Rwenzori Mountains are located in Rwenzori Mountains National Park in the Albertine Rift Valley and on the border with DR Congo. The range covers a length of 120km-along and is one of the just 3 places in Africa with permanent glaciers and snow.
Rwenzoris is just 50 kilometers from Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The distance from Entebbe/Kampala to Rwenzori is about 370km – 6-8 hours’ drive.
How Was Rwenzori Mountain Formed?
The Rwenzori Mountains in Rwenzori Mountains National Park formed about 3 million years ago when ancient gneissic, quartzite and other crystalline rocks were forced up/uplifted from the base of the Albertine Rift by tectonic plate movement.
This same tectonic upheaval is responsible for the creation of lakes Albert, Edward, and George more than 4,000 meters below. Unlike free-standing volcanoes like Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenya, the Rwenzori is a block mountain and is the highest mountain range in Africa.
What Is The Highest Peak Of Mount Rwenzori?
The highest peak of Mount Rwenzori is Margherita Peak at 5,109 meters on Mount Stanley. Other notable peaks in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park include:
- Alexandra Peak (5091m) on Mount Stanely
- Albert Peak (5087m) on Mount Stanely
- Ellena Peak (4968m) on Mount Stanely
- Vittorio Emanuele Peak (4,890m) on Mount Speke
- Edward Peak (4843m) on Mount Baker
- Sella Peak (4627m) on Mount Luigi da Savoia
- Weismann Peak (4620) on Mount Luigi da Savoia
Why Is Rwenzori Called Mountains Of The Moon?
Rwenzori mountains in Rwenzori Mountains National Park have been called the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, which Ptolemy’s Geography, written circa AD150, cited as the primary source of the Nile – the longest river in the world. According to Ptolemy, the existence of the Mountains of the Moon was based on a report by a Greek merchant named Diogenes. People of the ancient world were long curious about the source of the Nile, especially Ancient Greek geographers.
Several expeditions up the Nile failed to find the source. Eventually, Diogenes reported that he had traveled inland from Rhapta in East Africa for 25 days and had found the source of the Nile. He reported it flowed from a group of massive mountains into a series of large lakes.
He reported the natives called this range the Mountains of the Moon because of their snowcapped whiteness. These reports were accepted as true by most Greek and Roman geographers, most notably. It was later discovered that, indeed, melting snows from the Rwenzori Mountains feed various tributaries of the Nile River.
Who Named Rwenzori?
The Rwenzori Mountains were named by Henry Morton Stanley a British explorer who is the first European to see the range in 1889 confirmed.
After seeing the Rwenzori, Stanley placed mountains on the map and named them ‘Ruwenzori’, a local name which he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.” And, it’s indeed a rainmaker as rain feeds the dense foliage and falls on the Rwenzori Mountains for up to around 350 days each year.
How Hard Is Rwenzori Mountains Climbing?
Trekking in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is tough, particularly for those climbing the main peaks like Margherita as apart from the bogs and steep sections at lower levels the glaciers are becoming harder as they are melting fast and ever-changing. The upper Rwenzori in fact present tougher hiking conditions than the ascents of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m) or Mount Kenya (5,199m).
However, Rwenzori Mountain trekking guides are trained and competent in the use of ropes and even with limited experience, most people can climb to the peaks (glacial peaks are accessible to experienced technical climbers).
How Long Does It Take To Climb Mount Rwenzori?
Rwenzori Mountains’ tallest peak is Margherita at 5,109m. It is located on Mountain Stanley and it takes between 7 to 10 days to hike to this peak. The Rwenzori Mountains also have various other peaks where you have a chance to see its snowcapped peaks on Mount Stanely, Mount Speke, and Mount Baker.
These can be reached between 5-6 days. There are also 1-4 days trails that are perfect for travelers who want to get a taste of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park’s beautiful scenery and wildlife within a short period.
How Much Experience Is Required To Climb Rwenzori Mountains Peaks?
If you are planning to summit Margherita peak, you will need to have good fitness and ideally some experience with ice/technical climbing, including the use of ropes, crampons, belays, etc. However, a lot of it comes down to mindset and determination, and while the hike is challenging, if you are in good shape and determined, you should be fine on the mountain.
If you have no climbing experience and would rather skip any technical climbs, another great option is to head to the Stanley viewpoint at 4,908 meters.
From here, you’re rewarded with fantastic views over Congo and the mountain’s ridges including Mount Speke, Mount Baker, and Margherita Peak. You will be fine on the low-slope treks. Essentially, anything that gets you into the heart of the Rwenzoris is going to be an incredible experience because of the unique habitats and landscapes.
How Much Does It Cost To Climb Rwenzori?
The cost of climbing Rwenzori Mountains National Park depends on your budget and the number of days you plan to hike/trek Rwenzori.
Also, Rwenzori Mountain hiking activity is under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and other trekking services are provided by Rwenzori trekking services and Rwenzori Mountaineering services. According to the 2020-2022 UWA tariff, hiking costs USD50 per person per day for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, Uganda shillings 50,000 per person per day for East African citizens.
The cost is inclusive of Entrance fees and guiding fees but excludes porter and cook fees. The total cost for a mountain hiking trip to Rwenzori Mountains includes hiking fees, transport, accommodation, guide fees, and all services. We will tailor your Rwenzori Mountains trekking Uganda trip and send you an all-inclusive package.
Do You Need A Porters To Climb Rwenzori?
Yes, you will need to hire a porter for your Rwenzori Mountain trekking tour. This not only enables you to focus on enjoying the breathtaking scenery but also provides valuable employment to local people around mountains.
Porters in Rwenzori Mountains National Park are permitted to carry a maximum of 15 kg each. This includes all your clothing, hiking and camping gear, and food. The porters will gather firewood and water every evening for you at camp so you only need to carry one day’s personal supply of drinking water at a time. You can expect to pay your porter USD15 per day. A tip of USD 5-10 per day will make your porter very happy indeed.
What To Carry In Your Day Park of Rwenzori Mountains Climbing Tour?
Your waterproof day pack/personal rucksack for the Rwenzori Mountains National Park climbing tour should contain your waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers, drinking water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and snacks.
Snacks: Make sure you pack lots of your favorite snacks. G’ nuts, biscuits, bananas, and dried fruit will provide you with more energy than chocolate and sweets.
Water: Even in cold weather, you will need to drink at least two liters of drinking water every day to stay hydrated at altitude.
Footwear: The best hiking boots for Rwenzori are those that provide ankle support. In case you’re planning to wear Wellington gum’ boots, get some good insoles. Ankle-high boots with gaiters, which will keep out a lot of rain and water (and most insects).
Hot water bottle: Take a proper hot water bottle with you, it will protect you during the bloody cold night on Rwenzori. Remember, you’ll have a porter to help you carry everything.
What Equipment Is Provided For A Trek To Margherita Peak?
All treks to Margherita peak require the following equipment:
- Ice axes
- Climbing rubber boots
- Ropes and ice screws
- Walking sticks
This equipment is provided but we recommend that you come along with your own pair of crampons, but there are also some to rent. You can hire sleeping bags, though they are not new. You could also carry a sleeping liner to use inside the sleeping bag. Hiring one costs $15.
What Is Accommodation Like At Rwenzori Mountains?
Before or after Rwenzori Mountains hiking, there is a variety of lodges, hotels, and camps where you can stay – ranging from Budget, Midrange to Luxury. While on the Rwenzori Mountains National Park hike, the only option is camping.
Several basic huts with bunk beds (dormitory style) and mattresses are located at strategic points along the trekking circuit. Twins or singles are not available as the huts are built to minimize their impact on the environment, which means efficiency over comfort! You will need to bring a good 4 season sleeping bag. This is the reason that porters are recommended to help carry your luggage.
What Are The Meals Like On Rwenzori Trekking?
Meals on Rwenzori Mountains are crafted to keep you safe, healthy, and well-fed during the trek. The cooks can cater to all your dietary requirements.
Meals provided include a combination of fresh, canned food for the three main meals as well as biscuits or rye bread, cheese, and tomatoes. These are supplemented with additional servings of fresh vegetables and tropical fruits where possible. There is unlimited tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and additional boiled water for your water bottle. As noted above, bring some of your favorite snacks with you, they’re a great motivator during the trek!
How Is Drinking Water Carried Up The Rwenzori Mountains?
Up the mountain, all drinking water is drawn from freshwater streams and purified. There you are advised to bring water purifiers that can deal with at least 3 liters a day. You porters boil water at night for teas and coffee, and you can fill up your water bottle the night before with the same boiled water.
Are The Rwenzori Mountains Safe?
It is very to trek in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Mountain trekking is one of the major Uganda safari activities and therefore your safety is guaranteed.
You will be assigned two or more armed Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers for the duration of your Uganda hiking safari in the Rwenzori Mountains who will act as your guides throughout the trip. Mountaineering and other activities have been going on for years in the Rwenzori, and your safety is our top priority so you can have an unforgettable experience.
Note: If you’re planning to climb the Ruwenzori’s, particularly if you are climbing Margherita, you are advised to take out travel insurance.
Is There A Risk Of Altitude Sickness?
Yes, altitude sickness can be a problem for many people on Rwenzori Mountains National Park hiking adventures. It is not a major concern below the snowline, but few people climb above 3,500 meters without feeling minor symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, breathlessness, sleeplessness, and swelling of hands and feet.
You can reduce this by allowing yourself time to acclimatize by taking an extra day over the ascent, eating and drinking properly, and trying not to push yourself. If you walk slowly, and steadily, you will tire less quickly than if you try to rush each day’s hike.
The risk of developing full-blown altitude sickness is greatest if you ascend the peaks. But at any altitude, should symptoms become severe or suddenly get worse, you may be developing pulmonary or cerebral oedema, both of which can be fatal.
Symptoms of pulmonary oedema include shortness of breath even when at rest and coughing up frothy spit or blood. Symptoms of cerebral oedema are headaches, poor coordination, staggering, disorientation, poor judgment, and even hallucination.
Sleeping at high altitudes with significant symptoms of altitude sickness is dangerous and the only treatment is to descend as quickly as possible; even going down 500 meters is enough to start recovery. Hypothermia is a lowering of blood temperature usually caused by a combination of cold and wet.
Mild cases usually manifest themselves as uncontrollable cold and wet. Put on dry, warm clothes and get into a sleeping bag; this will normally raise your body temperature sufficiently. Severe hypothermia is potentially fatal; symptoms include disorientation, lethargy, mental confusion, and coma. In severe cases, the rescue team should be summoned.
How Do I Get To The Rwenzori Mountains?
You can get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park by road and air. The nearest built-up area to the Rwenzori Mountains is the city of Kasese. Kasese is easily accessible by a 1-hour flight from Entebbe International Airport.
Alternatively, the road journey from Entebbe/Kampala, via Fort Portal takes 6-8 hours. If coming from Queen Elizabeth or Kibale National Parks, the journey takes about an hour. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest corner of Uganda (home to the mountain gorillas) is about a 6-hour drive.
When Is The Best Time To Climb Rwenzori Mountains?
January to March and June to October are the best to climb the Rwenzori Mountains because they are the driest time of the year. Hiking in Rwenzori Mountains National Park during the rainy season is difficult because certain sections of the trek become hellishly boggy, making progress very hard and tiring.
Note: Time your Rwenzori hike right, and you will enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience far more. At all times of the year, you should be prepared for a combination of sun, rain, mud, fog, ice, and snow.