Within the western part of Uganda is a unique marvelous natural geographical feature that towers high above the sounding terrain in Uganda and this is the majestic Mountain Rwenzori. Commonly referred to as the “Mountain of the Moons”, this great mountain lies on Uganda’s boarder with the Democratic Republic of Congo lying west of Uganda and this has been one of the main attributes for which Uganda was named the “pearl of Africa.” It was declared among the UNESCO world Heritage Sites and is a very great wonder within Uganda. The Rwenzori Mountain actually needed not to be announced publicly to the a well known as it majestically stands as the third highest roof-top on the African continent.
The mountain rises to a height of 5109 meters with its highest peak being permanently covered with snow. The Rwenzori has 6 peaks with the highest of all being the Margherita at 5109 meters. This is followed by the Alexandria peak at 5083 meters, Mount Satnely, mount Speke peak at 4890 metetrs, Mount Emin peak at 4791 meters, mount Gessi and Mount Luigi at 4715 meters and 4625 meters respectively.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a delight for seasoned hikers and offers a unique hiking experience over its snow covered peaks. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one the best places for outdoor adventures in Africa. Located in western Uganda this Ugandan national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rwenzori Mountains. The park covers almost 1,000 km² in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. Many travelers taking adventure safaris in Uganda visit these fabled mountains of the moon located along the Uganda-Congo border.
For bizarre vegetation and the chance to straddle the Equator atop the highest mountain range in Africa, the mist-shrouded and jagged Rwenzori Mountains are definitely worth a visit. The 120km range spans the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unlike East Africa’s other large mountains, the Rwenzori are not volcanic; rather they were formed during the shift of the Rift Valley.
Often overshadowed by the likes of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ (so called by Ptolemy!) offer you the chance to marvel at some astonishing flora and fauna, a variety of forest mammals and over 170 species of birds. If you’re lucky, listen out for the chorus of chimpanzees, and forest elephant crashing through the undergrowth as well.
Trips to the Margherita Peak (5,401 metres) on the snowy summit of Mt Stanley will take trekkers through tropical jungle, sci-fi landscapes dotted with giant lobelia, alpine savannah and glacial fields, not to mention hopping from tussock to tussock in knee-deep bogs! Just don’t forget to pack your wellingtons…
Note: A new, shorter and easier route has opened up on the glacier leading to the Margherita Peak. The route – on the western side – avoids the steepest part of the mountain, so it will now take approxiamtely 26 minutes to climb from the base of the glacier to the top (a saving of 19 minutes!) The new route has been thoroughly tested and it is safe and secure for mountain climbers. A diversion from the old route has been created at a point called Omwubutindo where ladders had been placed on rocks to ease movement on the glacier.
The Mountain Rwenzori
Mountain Rwenzori is the third highest mountain in Africa, with Margherita( 5,109m – 16,762 ft) as its highest peak. It is a permanently snowcapped peak covered in glaciers and it’s the only glaciated mountain in Uganda. Its slopes are covered with moorland, bamboo, rich moist montane forest on the lower slopes in mist thus “The Land of Mist”.
Mountain Rwenzori is found in the Western arm of the grate east African rift valley at the Uganda –Democratic Republic of Congo border. The Rwenzori ranges have spectacular scenic beauty harboring a variety of indigenous flora (plant species) and fauna animal species / primates).
Its flora is designed along the slopes according to the different levels of altitude along the mountain slopes, and it is such a great view / sight for the explorers, scientists ,as well as tourists. Its with no doubt, The Mountain of the Moon with its ranges, is a number one tourist destination in Uganda for mountain climbing, hiking, biking and so much more.
Vegetation Zones on Mount Rwenzori
The Rwenzori mountain has five deferent vegetation zones that include the vast grasslands that cover an altitude of 1000 to 2000 meters, the montane forest between altitude of 2000 to 3000 meters, this disappears into the bamboo zone at 2500 to 3500 meters, the heather zone at 3000 to 4000 meters and further higher the afro – alpine – moorland at 4000 to 4500 meters moving higher you will find the rough snow covered rocked. Each zone supports a different plant cover with the giant lobelia as well as the giant cactus being the most prominent plant species.
The lower altitudes of the Ruwenzori are sheltered by thick tropical rain – forest with intersperse with a number of rivers. The soils are very fertility and the areas receive heavy rainfall all throughout the year. Trekking along the lower slopes is quite challenging and the terrain is damp, muddy and slippery. The verdant forest supports a diversity of tree species that offer shelter to small animals like monkeys.
Things to See & Do
Mountain Rwenzori, has several tourist activities that include mountain hiking, climbing, biking, forest nature walk through the montane and bamboo forests, wildlife safaris, birding, Bakonzo community walk among others.
This is the most popular thing to do in the Rwenzoris. The hikes journey you through the different vegetation zones all the way to the high glacial peaks. The hikes can accommodate both amateurs and professional hikers with a number of short hikes organized specifically for the less physically fit. Normally to summit the peaks, it requires a hike of seven days allowing better acclimatization as you hike to higher altitudes.
The central hike to the Magherita Peak on Mount Stanley located 5,109m takes atleast 7 Days of a guided hike. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and a great mountaineering destination in Africa offering a challenging hike to the snow capped peaks. A nine- to twelve-day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.
Flora and Fauna
Rwenzori national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation. The slopes of the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ provide habitant to a diversity of wildlife among which are several primate species such as the white and black colobus monkeys, the L’Hoest monkeys, and chimpanzees; other mammals like forest elephants, hyrax, and duikers; about 15 butterfly species, over 85 bird species like the Francolin, Montane Nightjar, Archer’s Robin Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Montane Masked Apalises, Red throated Alethe plus the dwarf Honey-guide.
Bird watching through the lower slopes of the mountain unveiling to you the various bird species among which are a number of endemic species worth seeing.
Nature walks are another interesting activity that is often carried out on this beautiful mountain accompanied by well trained nature walks with great knowledge about the flora and fauna of the area around including the different tree species, varieties of butterflies, primates and other large mammals.
For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.
There are bookings that need to be done for the hiking and it is advisable to take advantage of the expert guides available in the parks, who will guide through the hike. You will need to do an advance booking in order to hike on this mountain and like all other bookings it can be done through the a tour operator atleast a month in advance.
Plan Your Trip to the Rwenzoris
What to bring to Mountain Rwenzori
Below I have listed some of the key items you require if you are going to hike this great mountain Rwenzori:
A Sleeping bag, cameras, a rucksack, binoculars, a sleeping mat, a hat, good strong hiking boots, sun glasses, sun cream, water-proof trousers, a cup, insect repellants, a rain coat(since the rains up on the mountain are very un predictable), a sweaters, a heavy warm jacket, Light changeable clothes, a pair of hand gloves, torch, a scarf and a jumper.
We welcome you all to join in on the very adventurous yet challenging fun with ultimately very rewarding experiences as you hike to the roof top of one of the highest mountains in Africa; the Mountain of the Moon (Mountain Rwenzori)