Standing as Uganda’s top trekking destination, Rwenzori Mountains National Park has the highest mountain range in the whole of Africa, with 6 glacial peaks including Mount Speke, Mount Stanley, Mount Gessi, Mount Emin Pasha, Mount Luigi da Savoia and Mount Baker. The main peaks can be perhaps compared to those of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. These two peaks, Margherita (5.109m) and Alexandra (5.083m) on Mount Stanley are adventurous for any adventurous mountain hiker in Africa.
Rwenzori is located in the western part of Uganda on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo cover 998 sq km and was named after the famous Rwenzori Mountains which is also referred to as the legendary ‘Mountains of the Moon’. The mountain has distinctive glacial peaks visible miles away as one travels in the Western part of Uganda despite its existence almost at the Equator. The Rwenzori Mountains offer spectacular scenery to the national park.
The mountain slopes are above 1,600m and are a preserve of hikers, who rate the Rwenzoris to be the most challenging of all African mountains. Rwenzori five various vegetation Zones and these include grassland (1000-2000m), montane forest (2000-3000m), bamboo/ mimulopsis zone (2500-3500m), Heather/ Rapanea zone (3000-4000m) and the afro-alpine moorland zone (4000-4500m), which has forests of giants heather plants, giant lobelias and groundsels. The Rwenzori mountain vegetation is according to the altitude
Mammals in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
There are over 70 mammal species recorded which comprise of elephants, chimpanzee golden cat, yellow – backed duiker, buffaloes, blue monkeys, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, forest hogs, hyrax and leopards plus many others.
The park is naturally blessed with over 177 bird species like the Francolins, illadopsis, robin, Rwenzori turaco, apalis, owl, Archer’s ground robin, Olive Pigeon, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, White Necked Raven, barred long-tailed cuckoo, golden-winged sun-bird, Lagden’s bush shrike and Mountain Buzzards plus many other threatened and endemic species which are rare elsewhere.
Tourism Activities in Rwenzori Mountains
Tour activities at Rwenzori Mountains National Park include:
– Mountain hiking/Climbing tours
– Trekking safaris
– Wildlife tours
– Birding safaris
Visiting tourists are eager to take on the central circuit trial which lasts 6 nights 7 days to complete and enables one to see the main peaks. Other shorter hikes can take up to 4 days. Generally, hiking is the prominent vacation activity to undertake in the park and it takes you via all the vegetation zones and leads you to the glacial peaks. However, with hiking, the high peaks should be attempted by experienced mountaineers only, for safety reasons. Nature walks that expose one to various animal and bird species are also commonly enjoyed by visitors.
Accommodation options around Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Kasese town, a close neighbour to Rwenzori has many affordable accommodation facilities of all classes of people. Rwenzori Mountaineering Service also offers accommodation facilities like huts with bunk beds along the central circuit.
Access to Rwenzori Mountains National Park
To reach the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, you can use either road transport and air transport means these transport means can be properly arranged especially a chartered plane that can drop you to Kasese airfield from where you can start your short journey to park.
Health and safety measures while mountaineering
The high attitude and the wet conditions of the Rwenzori and can adversely affect visitors who are not experienced. Note that the following health problems are possible and you need to be prepared:
3. Altitude sickness,
4. AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
5. HAPE (High altitude sickness pulmonary edema)
6. HACE (High altitude cerebral edema).
Related National Park in Uganda for Trekking Activities
Other National Parks in Uganda
Uganda has got 10 National Parks and many game reserves. Prominent of the list is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, habitats to mountain gorillas in Uganda. Uganda also has Murchison Falls National Park together with Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Lake Mburo National Park as parks that make much of Uganda’s safari tour activities. Mount Elgon National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park facilitate trekking and climbing adventures in Uganda with the former being the major one. Whereas Kibale National Park is the major habitat for chimpanzees in Uganda. Semuliki National Park also exists though its less busy with safari activities.