Rwenzori Mountains National Park covers about 100,000 ha in western Uganda and comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain chain, which includes Africa’s third highest peak (Mount Margherita: 5,109 m). The region’s glaciers, waterfalls and lakes make it one of Africa’s most beautiful alpine areas. The park has many natural habitats of endangered species and a rich and unusual flora comprising, among other species, the giant heather.
First a protected forest in 1941, the 995km Rwenzori mountain National Park was created in 1991 and recognized as a world heritage site in 1994. The Rwenzori is one of the highest mountain range in Africa.
Rwenzori Mountains are the legendary snow-capped mountains of the moon with an elevation of 5,109m.Mt.Stanley is the highest peak and not volcanic.
In 1991 the Rwenzori Mountains were gazetted as a national park hence the name Rwenzori mountains national park. Uganda holds the largest part of the mountain and the other side borded by Congo. The park headquarters are located at the foothills of the mountains. If offers an enjoyable and exciting adventure which must be well planned because it’s very challenging. There six glaciers with permanent covering of snow on the peaks namely Mt.stanley (5,109m),Mt.Speke (4,890m),Mt.Baker (4,843m),Mt.Emin(4,798m),Mt.Gessi(4,715m) and Mt.Luigi di savoia(4,627m).
The luxuriant unique vegetation of Rwenzori boasts of five different vegetation zones including bamboo zone, heather zone and afro alpine, montane forest, grassland and moorland zone. The giant lobelia and groundsels are some of the plants found at the higher altitude. Although known primarily for it’s challenging hiking and climbing possibilities, it supports a diverse range of animals, including 70 mammal amd 177 bird species several of the latter are Albertine Rift Endemics.
The mountain contains a variety of wildlife such as elephant, buffalo and the rare Rwenzori leopard, Rwenzori colobus, Hyrax, Blue monkey and Rwenzori Turaco. It is the only national park in Uganda where the Angola Colobus has been recorded. The localized Angola Colobus can easily be confused with the more wide spread Black- and –white Colobus, and therefore needs to be examined more closely.
The lower slopes of the mountain inhabit some mammals like duikers. Birds species like rwenzori turaco, francolins, olive pigeon, mountain buzzards and white necked raven.
The Rwenzoris offers excellent mountaineering and hiking opportunities which gives one a wonderful and memorable experience. The central circuit which takes 7 days exposes the visitors climbing, unique vegetation and bird experience. It is recommended before climbing, one needs to be in good health condition and physically fit. The rwenzori mountaineering services (RMS) provides all the necessary climbing equipment.
Quick Facts About the Park
If you are interested in the most experiential hikes, a visit to Mount Rwenzori National Park gets you the best of thrilling hiking experience. This park is situated about 400 kilometers away from Kampala city center, western Uganda and it is bordered by Kabarole, Kasese and Budibugyo district.
This park derived its name from the scenic Rwenzori Mountain ranges which features as the 3rd highest snow peak in Africa and comprises of 6 mountains-Stanley, Emin, Gessi, Savioa, Speke and Baker. It is composed of a rare vegetation zone comprising of the bamboo, moist montane forest, moorland and others. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area of about 1000 square kilometers and boasts of its rare plant species, over 70 mammal species, 217 bird species 19 of which are Albertine rift endemics, waterfalls, the magical Rwenzori mountain ranges among others. A hike to the top of this mountain may last you about 9 or more days to get to the Margherita peak and it is ideal for those who are physically well.
Things to see in Mount Rwenzori National Park
Mount Rwenzori National Park is a home to magnificent Rwenzori mountain ranges which comes with waterfalls, blue cirque Lakes, unique vegetation as well as 18 mammal species, 217 avifaunal species, 9 reptiles, elephants, leopards, chimpanzees and many others.
Things to do in Mount Rwenzori National Park
Rwenzori Mountain range rewards hikers with the most thrilling adventure and while on a hike, you come across distinct vegetation zones, glaciers and not to forget magical views over its peaks and surrounding areas. Hiking to the peak of this mountain requires some physical wellness in you. This mountain features Mount Stanley, Vittorio Emmanuelle which stands at 4889 meters on Mount Speke, Edward at 4842 meters on Mount Baker.
As well, you can also take a 7 day trek around the central tourism circuit and 5 day trek on the Kilembe route to southern parts of the park.
If you can’t make it up to the Margherita peak, there is a better option for you to and that is nothing other than nature walks. On nature walk, you have a chance to sight at varied plant species, meet the Bakonzo communities for you to learn more about their cultures and traditions.
With over 217 bird species that are confined within this park, birders are never left out. Mount Rwenzori National Park boasts of its diverse bird species and while on birding tour, the birds to spot out include barred long tailed cuckoo, long eared owl, Rwenzori Turaco, slender billed starling, Lagden’s bush shrike, blue headed sunbird, barbets, golden winged sunbird, greenbul, handsome francolin, strange weaver, illadopsis, crimson wings, flycatchers, cinnamon chested bee-eaters and many more.
A safari to Mount Rwenzori National Park never goes without a visit to nearby local community to experience the African cultures. A cultural tour in this park gets you a chance to learn more about the cultural lifestyles and what they do each day learn more about drumming and unique dances among others. You can also head off to Ruboni village for you to explore more about their lifestyles and other interesting things.
When to visit Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Mount Rwenzori National Park is located along the equator and because of this; most parts are wet compared to other parts in East Africa. The highest rainfall amount is experienced in the eastern slopes and rains kick start from March to May and from September to mid-December. For excellent tour, you can opt to travel to this park from June to September as most parts remain relatively drier. This area experiences temperature range of about 5 to 20 degrees Celsius. Read More
Where to stay in Mount Rwenzori National Park
There are many accommodations for you to spend a night in this park and they include among others-Hotel Margherita which is situated at the base of the mountain just a few kilometers from Kasese town. Amazingly, a side from accommodation, they also offer Rwenzori experience.
The Rwenzori International Hotel-this is located about 3 kilometers off Kasese airstrip just at the base of Rwenzori Mountain range. This provides executive self-contained rooms to single non-self-contained rooms with camping options.
Kitara lodge-this is located about 16 kilometers off Katunguru gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This accommodation facility is very keen on environmental conservation and it is built using renewable materials.
The Equator snow lodge-this is also set at the base of the mountain and offers luxury accommodation services. Below it, there is a roaring Mubuku River and its cottages are constructed using the river rocks thus making it a few exceptionally rare facilities for one to spend a night while on safari in this park.
Tropical savanna guesthouse-this is set along the Mbarara-Kasese route within Kasese Town and it is ideal for budget visitors on safari in Mount Rwenzori National Park.
Getting to Mountain Rwenzori National Park
To get to this park, you need about 5 hours or more to drive from Kampala to Kasese. You can take a car rental a 4 wheel drive safari car or a public means although this may not be favorable enough in case you are looking at something comfortable. The popular routes include the Kampala-Fort Portal or Kampala – Mbarara – Queen Elizabeth National Park or alternatively, take a flight from Kajjansi airfield.