Hiking safari in Rwenzori Mountain ranges like it is a case with most leading mountaineering destinations such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya etc requires you to be adequately prepared. This is what guarantees you a successful Rwenzori Mountain hike while on Uganda safari. Mount Rwenzori shelters Africa’s third highest peak “Margherita” and sits suitably along the Western border area of Uganda and the D.R. Congo.
Also, most famous as the Mountains of the Moon, Mt. Rwenzori highest peak is 5109m and the block mountain takes its name as “Mountains of the Moon” mainly because of its magical and shining like moon glaciers on its summits. This is what distinguishes it from the many mountains and interestingly, it is a block mountain yet it is located along the Albertine rift region.
The word Rwenzori Mountain is derived from the local word that is translated as rain maker and Margherita its first peak derives its name from the Queen of Italy. The Margherita peak happened to be named by the Duke of Abruzzi, an Italian Aristocrat and hiking for 8 days or more to this peak is such unforgettable experience any hiker or climber on Uganda hiking safari shouldn’t miss.
When planning for a successful Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure, a lot must be put together from items to pack, how you can get there, places to stay, when to travel, mountaineering fees etc. This article therefore brings you a detailed list of how you can adequately plan or prepare for your Rwenzori Mountain hike.
Altitudinal acclimatization is essential when planning Rwenzori hiking safari. Endeavor to practice, exercise as much as you can before you set off for your actual Rwenzori mountaineering adventure in Uganda. Treks to the peaks of Rwenzori Mountain ranges come with their own challenges including navigating through the bogs, rivers, bamboo forests, steep slopes, lakes to mention but a few.
You can reduce the stress of your strenuous Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure only if you have adequate practice or exercise. This should be done prior actual date of hiking to the Margherita peaks. Essentially, take advantage of the hilly places back home or travel early to Uganda and do exercises in the most hilly areas in Kampala. By doing this, you are making yourself ready for the altitudinal challenge on the Rwenzori Mountain ranges. Remember, hiking to conquer Margherita peak takes from 7-8 days or more and the peak is 5109m high.
What to expect on your Rwenzori Mountain hike
Rwenzori Mountains rise 5109m high on Western Rift Valley side but this doesn’t mean that it is a volcanic mountain. Unlike most mountains lying on the rift valley area in Africa, Rwenzori Mountain is a block mountain and it is 120kms by length. Hiking to the various peaks takes you through the varying altitudinal zones and these zones come with diverse faunal and floral species of which, majority can be sighted.
On Rwenzori Mountaineering, expect to encounter the Margherita glaciers and mind blowing views of various peaks, the surrounding etc. Also, you have opportunity to sight, identify birds while en-route or as you descend from the summits of Rwenzori Mountains. Over 217 bird species dwell around the different habitats of Rwenzori Mountains National Park including lammergeiers, handsome francolins, archer’s ground robin, scarlet tufted malachite sunbird, cinnamon chested bee-eater, white starred forest robin, long eared owl, Rwenzori turacos.
While on Rwenzori Mountaineering, you stand a chance to enjoy remarkable views of the 9 lakes along the rift valley area in Western Uganda. In addition, you have park’s distinct vegetation zones to explore, floral, faunal species and above all, enjoy treks less of crowds.
Rwenzori Mountaineering Fees
To have opportunity to hike Rwenzori Mountain, you must have cleared the climbing fees. The fees cover a number of things such as park guide fees and accommodation en-route in the huts (when ascending & descending) plus meals.
Rwenzori Mountains-The Mountains of the Moon straddle suitably within the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Western Uganda. The park was established in 1991 the same year Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted and it sits on 1000sq.kms of land area. Climbing Rwenzori Mountain with undoubtedly the prime reason for most visits in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Mt. Rwenzori is a block mountain with six mountain ranges; Mt. Luigi di Savoia, Gessi, Mt. Baker, Emin, Stanley and Mt. Speke. These mountain ranges are bisected by green valley and gorges.
Kilembe and Rwenzori Central Circuit Trails are the main trails where hikers start their treks to various peaks on the Rwenzori Mountain ranges. Rwenzori Mountain has a million reasons why you should begin your African hiking safari in Uganda. It takes hikers 8 days or more ascending and descending from Rwenzori Mountain summits.
All hikes through Mt. Rwenzori begin from Nyakalengija offices after briefing from the park official. The trek includes navigating through fig trees, rocky grounds, heather zones, bamboo etc. The loop trail offers relatively simple hikes up to 4372m or take 3 days round trek around the moorland zone.
Packing for Rwenzori Mountain hike
If Rwenzori Mountain is your dream mountaineering destination, then make sure that you have packed appropriately. The essential items to consider on your Rwenzori Mountain hiking safari include walking/trekking pole, camera, water, insect repellents, warm clothing, rain jacket, hat, gloves, sun glasses, head lamp, daypack, sunscreen, sleeping bags.
Best time to visit
The dry season is the best time if you plan to visit Uganda to hike Rwenzori Mountain ranges. The dry months are June, July, August, December, January to February. These are favorable months of the year for climbing the Rwenzori Mountains considering the favorable weather conditions.
When to comes Rwenzori hiking safaris, there are accommodation options for all hikers and they range from budget to luxury. The popular accommodation exist at the base of the block mountain and in the nearby towns such as Kasese, Fort Portal etc.
Around Rwenzori Mountains N/P include Equator Snow Lodge, Mihunga Safari Lodge, Hotel Margherita, Ruboni Community Camp. And while ascending and descending the important huts to camp include Bujuku Hut at 3962m, Nyabitaba Hut 2652m, John Matte Hut 3414m and at 4430m Elena hut; Guy Yeoman Hut at 3261m, Kitandara Hut.
Getting to Rwenzori Mountain
Rwenzori Mountain is approximately 6 to 7 hours of drive from Kampala depending on the routes. The routes include Kampala via Mubende then to Fort Portal or Kampala via Mbarara to Kasese and from Nyakalengija rail, it is 22kms off from Kasese. By air, fly in hiking safaris can also be planned for with flights setting off from Entebbe International Airport (EBB) to Kasese Airstrip.