Mountain Rwenzori national park aka “mountains of the moon´´ located in the western Uganda, covering 995sqkm. It was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and acknowledged as a world heritage in 1994. Rwenzori Mountains National Park is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley.
The Rwenzori is approximately 120km long and 65km wide, made-up of six snow-capped Mountains including
Stanley with the highest peak (Margherita peak) following Speke, Barker, Emin, Gessi and Luigu da savoia as the lowest amongst them. The Rwenzori is one of Africa’s great mountaineering adventures, offering unique and thrilling mountain climbing experience and at the same time adventuring different wildlife.
ACCESS TO Mountain Rwenzori national park
Mountain Rwenzori national park can be accessed by either road or air transport.
By Road, various routes can be used to reach the park, each route has unique features that are good for sighting on travel. The quickest route to the park from Kampala is via Fort Portal and Kasese, which is 375km, the other route is via Mbarara, which is 450km.
By air, the park can be accessed from central using aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kasese.
BIO DIVERSITY of Mountain Rwenzori national park
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is covered by different vegetation due to the varying altitudes each having a different climate, this includes from the start montane forests at the bottom, following canopy forest, bamboo stands, the giant heather trees, and different grasses.
Although the Rwenzori`s climate is too cold, it doesn’t hinder the native wildlife, the park is blessed with different species with a total of 60 mammal species, 200 bird species, 20 reptile species mostly the three horned chameleon and 10 amphibian species.
Some of these brave animals of the Rwenzori, include the endemic Rwenzori colobus monkey, white-blue monkey, giant forest hog, chimpanzee, leopard, bushbuck, buffalo, elephants among others. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park also inhabits unique and various birds like montane sooty boubou, scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, Ruwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori double collared sunbird, long-eared owl, handsome francolin, strange weaver, Ruwenzori nightjar, Archer’s robin-chat, blue-headed sunbird and many more.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is cold and wet, with heavy rainfalls durin the rainy seasons. During the dry season, there is moderate rain sometimes, that’s why it’s referred as “The rain maker´´. The daytime average temperature is 10 Degrees Celsius, and below freezing at night.
ACTIVITIES TO DO ON RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK SAFARI IN UGANDA
Mountain climbing is the greatest activity done in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. There are three routes that go up onto the Rwenzori top, they include; The Central Circuit Trail which starts from Muhinga to Nyabitaba along the Bujuku valley and finally to the summit, this is a seven-days experience; The Kilembe Trail which starts from Kilembe, it goes to the glacial lakes along the Nyamwamba valley then at Lake Kitandara, and then joins the Central Circuit Trail, it takes nine days to reach the peak on Stanley;
And The Bukurungu Trail ascends from Kitumba to Mount Gessi. It’s so satisfying and interesting to reach the top of these snowcapped peaks but also as you climb up, there are quite attractions like the site and sounds of various wildlife that will leave you embracing the art and greatness of God’s creation. Every point reached by the climber is worth it on the high Rwenzori.
When visiting the Rwenzori mountains, its essential to carry the following equipment along; sleeping bag, camping mat, warm clothing, gloves, rain coat both jacket and trousers, hiking boots, gum boots and more as needed. For a good health, energy giving foods (carbohydrates) are highly recommended and a lot of water or juices.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is also known for birding; it’s done at different areas from the bottom of the mountain to its top. This park holds over 200 bird species that are attractive and interesting to bird viewers and researchers.
Some of the birds at each area are; Ruwenzori double collared sunbird, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori batis, Masked apilis, at the heather area; Scarlet tufted malachite sunbird at Mutinda peaks; Handsome francolin at Kiharo camp; Black billed turaco, Black duck, Ruwenzori hill babbler, Lanner falcon, Alpine swift, Mountain illadopis, Rufous sparrow hawk along the Kilembe Trail.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park offers the opportunity to explorer the beauty of different wildlife on foot, these are offered at the Buraro chimp forest, Lake Muhooma, Kilembe and Nyakalengija trailheads among others. During the walking various wildlife and the snowcapped peaks are quietly and closely observed.
The Rwenzori mountains slopes was a home for the Bakonzo people for generations before it was gazetted, they have numerous cultural sites and traditional values behind them. There are different cultural trails in the Rwenzori, they include; the Bulemba Ihandiro Cultural Trail where one experiences the culture and tradition of the Bakonzo, like the visit to the blacksmith, traditional healer locally known as ´´Muhima“, their worship areas and gods and finally be entertained with a traditional dance performance for entertainment.
The other cultural trail is within the Mihunga community tourism group and turnaco view that show the visitor different cultural values and behaviors, like the traditional dressing, traditional healers’ demonstration, handmade crafts like bracelets, hats, baskets and finally be entertained with a traditional dance performance for entertainment.
The most interesting part of these cultural trails is that the visitor is given a chance to participate if willing, making you feel at home.
There are so many accommodation facilities located within and around the Rwenzori Mountains National Park ranging from the budget facilities to the midrange facilities and to the most luxury facilities. These facilities offer different types of accommodation including well-furnished hostels and lodges, campsites, hostels and shelters operated by the UWA. The nearby accommodations are found in Kasese and Fort Portal towns, and in Queen Elizabeth National Park.