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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

Rwenzori Mountains

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.

The Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” are a mountain range in eastern Africa located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Protected by Rwenzori mountains national park, the ranges have the highest peak in Uganda and the third highest on the African continent – Margherita (5,109m). As you plan a trip to the amazing Rwenzori mountains, there is some information you should know and below are some of the facts about the magical features;

Range and Location

The Rwenzori Mountains span an area of about 120 kilometres (75 miles) and are located in the western part of the East African Rift System. They are situated on the border between Uganda (in the south western region) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (in the northeast part).

Highest Peak

The highest peak in the Rwenzori Mountains is Margherita Peak, which stands at an elevation of 5,109 meters (16,762 feet) above sea level. Margherita Peak is part of Mount Stanley also known as Mount Ngaliema in Congo, one of the major peaks in the range. This peak also stands as the highest summit in Uganda and the third highest on the African continent after Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro of Tanzania.

Glacial Features

The Rwenzori Mountains are known for their distinctive glacial features, including several glaciers and snowfields. The most prominent glaciers include the Stanley Glacier and the Speke Glacier. However, due to climate change, the glaciers have been receding in recent years.


The Rwenzori Mountains are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are renowned for their exceptional biodiversity. The range is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including unique and endemic species. The vegetation zones of the mountains are stratified thus being available at different layers depending on the high you go. At every elevation, a new and unique vegetation zone found as shown below;

  • Grassland at 1,000m to 200m
  • Montane forests at 2,000m to 2,500m
  • Bamboo Zone at 2,500 to 3,000m
  • Heather Zone at 3,000m to 4,000m
  • Afro-Alpine Zone at 4,000m to the peaks

The Rwenzori Mountains features varying vegetation zones largely determined by altitudes. There are 5 distinct vegetation zones worth exploring on Rwenzori Mountain safaris. They include bamboo zone 2500 to 3500m, Montane 2000-3000m, grassland 1000-2000m, Afro-alpine moorland zone 4000-4500m, heather 3000-4000m. This block mountain also features strikingly beautiful plants at 3000m including the lobelia, giant tree heathers, groundsel and these are unique to the Rwenzori Mountain region.


Vegetation zones in the Rwenzori Mountain ranges: The Mountains of the Moon, the Rwenzori Mountains isn’t only most popular for its Margherita peak but also 6 distinct vegetation zones. Straddling in the Western side of Uganda, Mount Rwenzori has a composition of 6 rare vegetation zones 6 mountain ranges including Mount Luigi di Savoia 4627m, Mount Baker 4843m, Mt. Speke 4890m, Mt. Stanley 5109m, Mt. Gessi 4715m & Mt. Emin 4798m.

On a hike to Margherita, trekkers navigate through the 6 distinct vegetation zones. Each altitudinal range features its own vegetation zone;

1800-2500m-Afro Montane Rainforest

From 1800 to 2500m has mainly the Afro-Montane Rainforest. This means, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one incredible destination offering a unique experience of an Afro montane rainforest experience. At 1800m elevation has significant species of trees such as vernonia adolfi-friderici, symphonia globulifera, yellow wood tree, read stink wood, podocarpus milanjianus. Other species of plants that exist in this area include begonia, balasms, begonia mayari-johannis.

2500-3000m-Bamboo zone

2500-3000m features the typical bamboo zone and this is the gentle slopes of Rwenzori Mountain ranges. This altitudinal range has good soil, favoring growth of bamboo. As you hike upwards, the steep and rocky slopes the bamboo disappears and replaced by tangled undergrowth of an Acanthus-type shrub, mimulopsis ellioti, luxuriant lobelia. Most of these grow mainly around the wet or swampy region. The narrow ridges features the Erica kingaensis, giant heathers, philippia johnstonii.

3000-4000m-Heather zone

The Heather vegetation zone of Rwenzori Mountain range ranges from altitudinal range 3000-4000m. This vegetation zone specifically grows in poor soils such as the ridge tops, boggy and rocky regions. Besides, the thick Sphagnum moss occupies most of the tussocks and the fine lobelia. This region also features plants such as coral pink ground orchid, Disa stairsii, pink flowers,

The drained zone of the Rwenzori Mountains features mixture of woodland with Rapanea rhododendroides dominating. This is a small shrubby kind of tree with rhododendron type of leaves. The Valley area along the Heather zone is also dominated by huge bogs.

4000-4500m, Alpine zone

4000-4500m, Alpine zone is dominated by swampy vegetation including the giant groundsel, thick tangled growth of helichrysum stuhlumani, lobelia, moss, short grass etc. 4300m has only moss, a few tiny plant species, blackish lichens etc. 4500-5000m features only bare rock & glacier. At this elevation range, you will be exploring stunning Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley.

Wildlife in Rwenzori Mountains

The animals in the mountains include;

  • Chimpanzees
  • Forest elephant
  • Hyrax
  • Montane squirrel
  • Leopard
  • Rwenzori duiker
  • L’Hoest monkey
  • Rwenzori otter
  • Rwenzori range frog
  • 3 horned chameleon and many others.

Cultural Significance

The Rwenzori Mountains hold cultural and historical significance for the local communities. The Bakonjo and Bamba people, who inhabit the foothills of the range, have a strong cultural connection to the mountains. The mountains are also associated with various folklore and legends.

John Speke’s Exploration

The Rwenzori Mountains gained international attention during the 19th century when the British explorer John Hanning Speke identified them as the fabled “Mountains of the Moon” mentioned by ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy. Speke’s exploration played a crucial role in establishing the source of the Nile River.

National Parks

The Rwenzori Mountains are protected by two national parks. In Uganda, the majority of the range falls within Rwenzori Mountains National Park, which was established in 1991. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the mountains are part of Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

These are just a few key facts about the Rwenzori Mountains. The range offers a unique and captivating experience for adventurers and nature lovers alike.

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

Mountain climbing

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. The Rwenzori Mountains offer excellent opportunities for mountaineering and trekking enthusiasts. The mountains present a significant challenge due to their steep slopes, dense vegetation, and unpredictable weather. The most popular routes for climbers are; the Rwenzori Central Circuit Trail, which takes around 8-12 days to complete and then the Kilembe route that takes 7 to 10 days to reach the summit.

Rwenzori mountains comprises of several massifs that provide an excellent mountaineering experience and among these include; Mount Stanley or Ngaliema at 5,109m, Mount Speke at 4,890m, Mount Baker at 4,843, Mount Emin at 4,798 m, Mount Gessi at 4,715 m and then Mount Luigi di Savoia at 4,627 m.

Nature walks

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.

Cultural encounter

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.

What to Pack

What to pack for Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure 2021-2022. There is a long list of things any enthusiastic hiker or climber can carry but a few essentials are a must-have. Hiking or climbing the Rwenzori Mountain ranges/Mountains of the Moon can be challenging and a successful climbing/hiking safari holiday can be achieved when you pack rightly.

What to pack

Hiking boots

When choosing the hiking boots for your Rwenzori Mountain hiking, consider the sturdy boots and they should offer ankle support as you conquer the steep slopes to the Margherita Peak 5109m. The 7-8 days or more trekking through Rwenzori Mountains can be challenging and require you strong boots. The trails like Rwenzori Central Circuit/Kilembe trail, trekkers navigate through the muddy areas, bogs, steep slopes, wooden footpath and the best choice of boots to wear are the lightweight and comfortable.

Sleeping bags

Carry good sleeping bags, warm cloths for your Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure. Preferably, carry waterproof sleeping bags to use for your overnight stay at the huts en-route to Margherita Peak. Warm clothes should also be a must have for cold nights or general weather while on Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure.

Rain jacket/gear/equipment

The weather in the Rwenzori Mountains is entirely unpredictable but with adequate preparation, you certainly have enjoyable climbing/hiking safari experience. Rain jacket or poncho is one of the essentials for your Rwenzori Mountaineering tour. A rain jacket can save you from heavy rains while still trekking along the trails of Rwenzori Mountain ranges.


A waterproof daypack is another most valuable item any climber on Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure should have. The daypack is essential for your hiking adventure to have your documents, plus several other valuable items kept safely without getting wet or damaged.

Medical or first aid kit/box

First aid kit or box comes with lots of items to help you in case of emergencies while on Rwenzori Mountaineering. Trekking through Mt. Rwenzori comes with uncertainties and with first aid kit, you can be saved. The kit comes with pack of plasters/bandages, anti sceptic wipes, gloves, sterilizers, ant malaria tabs or anti diarrhoea, liniment.

Hand gloves

Hand/Gardening gloves do play a significant part while you are on Rwenzori Mountaineering. Gloves should be put on to protect your hands not only from cold, keep them warm or have them protected from scratches. 


Find good and strong sunglasses to help protect your eyes from sun rays while climbing Rwenzori Mountains. Besides, you may also have sunscreen on your Rwenzori Mountaineering to protect your skin from sun burn.

Trekking stick/pool

Trekking/climbing pools are essential during your Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure.  They are good for providing hikers support when hiking through steep slopes or trails with bogs. Climbing pools can be found at the park briefing area or get one from the safari lodge or hotel.

There are also other equipment you may need to hire on Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure especially if you plan to conquer the Margherita peaks. These include strong climbing shoes, crampon with over 10 teeth to ease your entry to glacier, carabiner in order to rope up on glaciers and rock hiking prior the peak, long rope of over 40m with diameter of about 10mm, figure 8 descender is necessary for abseiling on the rock areas and ice axes per trekker is a must have.