Mount Rwenzori National Park – Mountain climbing Tours, Scenic Tours, Mountain Hiking Expeditions, Montane Flora and Fauna
Over 996km sq national parks protect the upper slopes of the Rwenzori mountains , running from almost 120km a long the Congolese border west of Fort Portal and Kasese. The Rwenzori Mountains are thought to have been the source of the legend of the mountains of the moon, the snow-capped range cited as the source of the Nile by the Roman geographer Ptolemy.
The first European to see these legendary mountains were Arthur Jephson and Thomas Parke, the members of Stanley’s cross continental expedition to rescue the Emin pasha, which passed through the area in 1889.
The highest mountain range in Africa is Mt Rwenzori with its loftiest peaks, Margarita having 5,109m and Alexandra with 5,083m. Extinct volcanoes are altitude exceeded in Africa on Mount Stanley by only Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya which they are both extinct volcanoes isolated a above the surrounding palms.
The mountains are unique a among east Africa`s major peaks in that they are not volcanic in origin, but they do rise directly from the Rift valley floor and their formation like that of Kenya and Kilimanjaro, was linked to the geographical upheaval that created the Rift. A part from Mt Stanley there are other four glaciers peaks in Mt Rwenzori include;- Mount Luigi da Savoi, ( 4,627m), Mount Emin (4,791m), Mount Gessi ( 4,715m) and Mount Speke (4,890).
The Mountain is well known for its challenging hikes and climbing possibilities, with a range of also supports a diversity of animals, include 70 mammals and 177 bird species, several of the letter being Albertine Rift Endemics. It is the only national park in Uganda where the Angola colobus Monkey has been recorded, though identification of this localised monkey will require careful examination as the similar and more widespread black-and-white colobus monkey also occurs on the mountain.
Just like any other large east African mountain, the Rwenzori range can be divided into several altitude zones, which starts at around 1,800m,has the most varied fauna.
The only mammals you are likely to see in the forest are the a aforementioned colobus and blue monkeys, though several other large mammals are present, including elephant, golden cat, servalline genet, Chimpanzee, yellow-backed duiker and giant forest hog. At night, listen out for the distinctive and eerie call of the southern tree hyrax.
The forest zone is a home to a diversity of birds, including Rwenzori turaco, hand francolin, cinnamon-chested bee eater, long eared owl, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Archer`s ground robin, white-starred forest robbin, flycatcher, greenbul, strange weaver, crimsonwing, golden-winged sunbird, Legden`s busg shrike, Rwenzori batis, montane sooty boubou and many more.
Health tips while on Rwenzori trail
Hikers should not attempt to climb the mountain unless they are reasonably fit, nor have heart and lung problems. Hikers should have it mind that, however that physically fit people are more prone to attitude sickness because they ascend too fast.
There is need for hikers to be familiar with the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia and various forms of altitude sickness. Few people climb above 3500m without feeling at least minor symptoms of altitude sickness like sleeplessness, fatigue, headache, breathlessness, nausea and swelling of the legs and hands. Should any of these symptoms become severe, and especially if they are clearly getting worse, then descend immediately. Even going down 500m is enough to start recovery. Sleeping high with significant symptoms is dangerous; if in doubt descend to sleep low.
When to hike
The best time for mountaineering is during the dry seasons from mid-December to the end of March and from June through Mid-August.
How to get there
From Kampala you pass via Mbarara to Kasese, then continue 18 km to Ibanda. Also from Kampala through Fort Portal and then 75km on the Fort Portal/Kasese road south. The park is 25 km from Kasese. Take a left turn 4km after leaving Kasese on the Kasese-Fort Portal road.
On reaching Kasese, the Nyakalengija trailhead lies off the Fort Portal road, 22km from Kasese. Transport can be arranged through the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS). Secure parking is available at the RMS headquarters.
Where to stay:
Hostel and campsite at the trailhead, basic hiking huts along the loop trail. Nearby Kasese has a midrange hotel, several budget lodgings, and a campsite.