RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (THE MYSTICAL CHALLENGE)
Comprises of six distinct mountains, the highest being Stanley (5109m) Speke (4890m) & Baker (4843m) all bearing permanent snow glaciers.
Snow peaks accessed through hiking the central circuit and Kilembe trails.Size: 996 sq kms. Districts: South west Uganda in Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro districts.
Gazetted 1991, Recognized as World Heritage Site 1994, Ramsar site 2008. Mt Stanley’s Margherita peak highest point is at 5109m above sea level and is bisected by boarder with DR Congo.
It was formed by up faulting through floor of Western Rift Valley.The mountains were christened the “Mountains of the Moon” by the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150. Explorer Henry Stanley labelled it Ruwenzori a local name meaning “Rain maker” or “Cloud- king”
All hikes are arranged through Rwenzori Maintain Services (RMS) an organization that works with UWA to control hiking in the area and to maintain trails and huts.
The Ruwenzori’s are a world- class hiking and mountaineering destination. A 9-12 day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita the highest peak though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale lower peaks.
Time required: 3 days for shorter foothill hike and 6-7 days for usual mountain loop.
Ruboni situated at the south eastern foot of the Rwenzori Mountains is the trail head for the central circuit to the high peaks. It’s also the starting point for hill walks, bird and nature treks through the traditional homesteads of local Bacon communities. Accommodations for different budgets give a spectacular view of the over laying Mubuku valley.
Birds recorded: 195 species which include species endemic to the Albertine rift. Amongst these is the handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori batis, Strip breasted tit, Collared Apalises, Red- faced Woodland Warbler.
Flora and Fauna: The mist boggy, glacier-curved valley of the high Rwenzori form a strange botanical display filled with trifold-sized forms of Lobelia , heather & groundsel, crisp “everlasting flowers,” garishly colored Moses & gnarledtices draped with curtains of lichen. Those strange plants rank among the world’s botanical treasures being found only on the highest mountains of East Africa.
Lakes: Over 20 lakes in in this park the lowest and easiest accessed is lake Mahoma at elevation of 2651m in the bird rich forest of the central circuit. The stunning lake Bujuku at the head of the deep glacier curved Bujuku valley in the shadow of Mt Stanley, Baker & Speke is worth visiting.
The Nyamwamba valley has a string of eight beautiful lakes. Various rivers also originate from the mountain supporting an insurmountable number of flora, fauna and sustaining local communities.
Local culture & people
The Rwenzori is inhabited by the Bakonzo mountain people, while Semiliki valley contains Bamba tribe and communities of Batwa pygmies. East of the mountain is Tooro kingdom dominated by Batooro. So for visitors who prefer less strenuous activities, neighboring, Bakonzo villages offer fantastic nature walks, homesteads, cultural performances, accommodation and traditional cuisine.
Bulemba is a prominent cultural site visited by Bakonzo pilgrims each year on 2nd September to make sacrifices as they commemorate their first king, Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga who is believed to have rescued the Bakonzo tribe from oppression by the Batooro.
ACCESS VIA ROAD:
Via Fortportal (375 kms) to park trail head at Ruboni.
Via Mbarara (450 kms) through Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chartered flight from Entebbe to Kasese Airfield.
The region has plenty cool weather attributed to its altitude. Conditions on the low lying rift valley floor are hotter with a mean maximum temperature of 28c and are generally drier.
Commonly Visited Gorilla Destinations
Bwindi Impenetrable national park a large primeval forest located in the South Western part of Uganda is a home to over half the worlds 1,000 mountain gorillas.