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Explore Rwenzori Mountains National Park – Climbing Cost & Peaks Adventure

Rwenzori Mountains National Park, home to the Mountains of the Moon, is located at the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo within the Rwenzori Ranges.

Standing at an elevation of 5,109 meters above sea level, the Rwenzori Mountains’ rivers are believed to be some of the sources of the River Nile.

The mountains were formed during the Pliocene epoch period as a result of the uplifting block of crystalline rocks 3 trillion years ago.

The vegetation ranges from tropical rainforests, giant groundsel, bamboo zone, giant lobelia, heather, and snow.

The permanently snow-capped peaks have glaciers. Mount Margherita peak and Mount Stanley are the third-highest peaks in Africa.

Mount Speke comes in the 4th position, and lastly, Mount Baker comes in as the 5th highest peak.

See our Rwenzori hiking tours here

Mount Rwenzori Hiking Tours
Crater Lake at the Rwenzori Mountains

This is the only national park in Uganda that offers stunning mountaineering experiences.

Ptolemy Claudius, a geographer of the Greek empire, gathered information about the snow-capped mountains of Africa and considered them to be the source of the Nile.

He then named them the “Mountains of the Moon.” Sir Samuel Baker and Gessi Romolo were the first to glimpse at the Mountains of the Moon from a distance.

The following year in 1989, Henry Stanley instructed his deputy W.G. Stairs to carry out a trip to the mountains, and he managed to climb up to 3,254m, where he observed snow-capped peaks.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to 70 species of mammals.

Some of the wildlife that inhabits the Uganda safari park are; Hyrax, L’Hoest monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys, elephants, chimpanzees, and duikers, among the rest.

History of Rwenzori Mountain

How to get to Rwenzori Mountain

Rwenzori mountain national park was established in 1991 and later recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1994.

From 1997-2001, rebel militias occupied the Mountains of the Moon.

It was declared a Ramsar site in 2008.

In ancient Greek times, there were beliefs of mountains of snow and ice forming the source of the Nile river.

From theories of Egypt being nurtured by snows and mountains of silver, Ptolemy called these “Lunae Montes (Mountains of the Moon)” in his map over 1000 years ago.

Despite the assumptions of many, the existence of Mountains of the Moon was not confirmed until in 1876 when Henry Stanley Morton first glimpsed at the mountain ranges.

In 1888 he noticed what he thought to be a cloud but later realized it was mountain slopes covered with snow.

Several explorers attempted to reach the peak of Mount Rwenzori for several years but always got turned back by a number of challenges.

G.W stairs reached 3000 meters in 1889, and two years later Dr. Franz Stulman and Emin Pasha reached a range and discovered there were many other ranges, not only one range.

Years later, Elliot Scott attempted to climb and pushed higher to the Mubuku and Bujuku valleys.

In the year 1900 J.E.S Moore reached the glaciers, and in 1904 Dr. J.J David from the Congo reached the Stanley plateau.

Grauer climbed to Grauer’s rock in Mount Baker in 1906, H.B Wallaston climbed Wallaston peak in Mount Baker, and then later the Duke of Abruzzi climbed six glaciated massifs.

Years later, the famous Noel Humphries of Mount Everest fame made seven trips in 1930.

A number of new routes were climbed by Tilman and Shipton in 1932.

Several mountaineers attempted to climb the mountain, creating different routes later, and the Congo side of the mountain was included in the then Albert National Park, now known as Virunga National Park.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, photographer Victorrio Sella took photos of Rwenzori glaciers.

Location of Rwenzori Mountains

Nature Walks in Rwenzori

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is situated in the western part of Uganda at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

You can access the park by road from Kampala via the Fort Portal-Mubende road, taking 5-6 hours.

Alternatively, visitors can use standard chartered flights from Kajjansi Airfield or Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip.

Mountain Climbing in Rwenzori

Mount Rwenzori
Tourist Climbing the Rwenzori Mountains

Mountain climbing is the main activity at Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Hiking can be done at the foothills of Mount Rwenzori for those who don’t want to conquer the peak.

Different Uganda hiking trails have been set up for you to have a feel of the mountain, providing spectacular views.

Even at the foothills, you can complement your hiking by fishing using local methods in the flowing streams.

Below are some of the trails used to climb to the peaks.

  • Kilembe Trail: This route passes through the Nyamwamba valley, going through glacial lakes, then joins the central circuit from Lake Kitandara. This route was established recently and provides some of the striking views of the Baker peak along the way.
  • Central Circuit: This trail starts at Mihunga. It is the hardest to use, though it passes through the Nyabitaba and Bujuku valley before going the central circuit and to Mubuku valley. Despite being the hardest, it provides the most beautiful views than the other routes. There are porters available that can help carry tourists’ backpacks while hiking the Mountains of the Moon. The guides are also well trained and skilled in mountain climbing, providing you with absolute knowledge about the respective mountains and their diversity.

See our Rwenzori hiking tours here

Rwenzori Entry Fees

Foreign non-residents pay $35, foreign residents pay $25, while East African residents pay 15,000 shs.

Both foreign residents and foreign non-residents pay $50 for mountaineering fees, while East African residents pay 50,000 shs.

Wildlife/Animals

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to various Uganda wildlife animals such as Rwenzori duikers, black and white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, forest elephants, hyrax, L’Hiesg monkey, Rwenzori otter, bushbucks, leopards, Angola colobus monkey, giant forest hog, and many others.

Top Things to do at Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Climbing Mount Rwenzori
Mountain Climbing

Below are some of the top things to do at Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Bird Watching

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a birder’s paradise. Being home to 217 species of birds, 17 of the bird species can only be found within Rwenzori and nowhere else in the world.

Some of the Uganda birds found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park include the Rwenzori batis, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori Turaco, handsome francolins, long-eared owl, Archers robin chat, strange weaver bird, white-starred robin, slender bellied starling, montane sooty boubou, bush shrike, blue-headed sunbird, Regal sunbird, and white-starred bush robin, to mention a few.

Ruboni Community Group

The foothills of the Rwenzori mountains are occupied by the Bakonzo, also known as Bakonjo people.

The farming village of Ruboni is one of the communities you can visit while at Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Uganda community tours here show a picture of the Bakonjo’s day-to-day activities.

You get to learn how to weave baskets, how the Bakonjo use different plants for ailments, and most of all enjoy the performance from the local traditional dancers who always have so many mysterious stories to tell about the ancient mountains.

It’s a great moment here.

Hiking & Guided Nature Walks

The guided nature walks and hikes in the Rwenzori Mountains can be done through Lake Mahooma, Buraco Chimpanzee Forest Trail, and Kichamba trail.

Nature walks give you spectacular views of the farmlands and settlements.

You also get to meet various wildlife on the way, especially primates; not forgetting the different species of birds.

When to go

When to go
Hiking Rwenzori under Good Weather is a Good Choice

The best time for visiting Rwenzori Mountain National Park is during the dry season, in the months of June to August and December to February.

These are the best months for climbing the mountain because the trails are not muddy and slippery.

However, it should be noted that Uganda’s climate is very unpredictable.

Even in the dry season, rain can fall, though the chances are minimal.

Tourists visiting Rwenzori Mountains National Park for mountaineering experiences will have to bring along sleeved warm clothing, raincoats, jackets, enough drinking water, energy snacks, good hiking boots, garden gloves, insect repellents, sunscreens, and hats, among others.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park can be reached from Kampala through Kasese within 5 and a half hours.

Alternatively, you can also fly in to Kasese and then drive to the park if you are not a fan of traveling for long hours on the road.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The Little Elephants Camp, Kasese – Uganda

Tourists visiting Rwenzori Mountains National Park can sleep in Hotel Margherita, Katara Lodge, Rwenzori International Hotel, Tropical Savannah Guest House, Equator Snow Lodge, and many more.

Please note that when you are hiking, you will sleep in shelters built within the hiking points.

Other National Parks in Uganda include Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.

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