Mount Rwenzori National Park is the third highest mountain in Africa and highest point in Uganda rising at an altitude of 16,700 feet above the sea level, situated along the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo border in Western Uganda within the East African Rift Valley. Mount. Rwenzori National Park covers the mountain and surrounding areas spanning across an area of over 1,000sq. km striding across the districts of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo. This conservation area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 preceding its establishment as a national park in 1991.
The mountain consists of five beautiful peaks and these include Mount. Stanley, Mount. Speke, Mount. Baker, Mount. Emin Pasha, Mount. Luigi da Savoia and the highest of all Mount. Margherita which is snowcapped and soars through the clouds. These stunning peaks were later referred to as the “mountains of the moon” by geographical researcher and photographer Pletomy.
The glaciers found at the top of this mountain are one of the sources of world’s longest river, River Nile. The area is covered by unique flora and fauna consisting of beautiful mountainous vegetation at different altitudes such as the moorland, bamboo, montane forests and colorful mosses, these are some of the attributes that have made this area one of the attractive Alpine regions in the world.
Besides the vegetation, are other features like lakes such as Lake Mahoma which is the easily accessible one among the 20 spreading across the mountains like Lake Bujuku which can only be seen from a distance while hiking. Mount. Rwenzori National Park is similar to Mount. Elgon National park as the only two parks in Uganda that contain mountains.
Attractions in Mount. Rwenzori National Park.
Equatorial Snow Peaks.
Despite being located in a tropical environment with just a few miles away from the equator, the 6 peaks of the Mountain Rwenzori are permanently covered with snow, with Mount. Stanley, Speke and the highest Margherita popular among hikers.
Home to over 70 mammal species such as elephants, monkeys like Angola black, blue and white monkeys, leopards, chimpanzees, Rwenzori Otter among other many others that love the dense forests. The park also has rare species such as six endemic to the Albertine region and seven endemic to the Rwenzori region. Other unique animals are reptiles like the three horned chameleon.
Identified as an Important Birding Area(IBA), this birds’ haven has over 217 bird species and a large percentage of them are endemic to the Albertine region like the Rwenzori Turaco, Montane Sooty Boubou, Long-eared Owl, Flycatchers and so much more.
Lakes and Rivers.
There are over 20 beautiful lakes within the mountain ranges, most of them can only be seen during the hikes as they are in hard-to-reach areas like Lake Bujuku that lies at the summit of a glacier-curved valley found in between the three peaks of Mount Stanley, Speke and Baker. The most accessible lake is Lake Mahoma which is 2651 meters above sea level. You can get to it when using the central circuit trail. The glaciers that melt flow down the mountain in large amounts forming River Nyamwamba that supplies water to the communities and also used to produce hydro-electricity.
This is a historical site visited by the Bakonzopeople every 2nd of September annually in remembrance of their great King, the site holds the remains of first King of Rwenzururu kingdom and other prominent leaders like Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga whose efforts in saving the Bakonzo tribe from Batooro oppression is appreciated.
What activities can you engage in while in Mount. Rwenzori National Park?
One of the most loved destinations for hikers all over the world due to its challenging and rough terrain and yet beautiful scenery that lets you want more, the foothills are covered by majorly plantations of coffee and bananas due to the fertility of the soil found there, as you continue climbing, you’ll come across the sub-montane vegetation consisting of luxurious tropical rainforests and a variety of plant species. The higher altitudes consist of bamboo and colored mosses, the summits are covered by sparkling white snow and bare rocks. It takes a minimum of 6-7 days to take in these beautiful sceneries right from the bottom to the highest peak. There are resting points where one can spend the night before reaching their destination.
Due to the steep slopes, one needs to be physically fit and carry along energy-giving foods such as sweets and biscuits. You can use any of the three hiking trails which include Kilembe, Nyakalengija and the central circuit which is the most popular route. Daily hiking permits cost between $1200 – $1500 for foreign nationals. Reaching the highest point of the mountain, Margherita is a worthwhile experience. Visit the parkany time of the year though the best times are during the dry seasons when the trails are dry and easy to navigate through.
Bird watching and Nature walks.
Of the 217 bird species, 17 of them are only seen in Rwenzori region. These activities can be combined, as one goes bird watching they can also walk around the low altitude areas of the mountain where they’ll be able to come across different plant species and animals while meeting a variety of birds like Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Strange Weaver, Apalises and many more.
There are lots of cultural lifestyle to enjoy at the foothills of Rwenzori Mountain like the Bakonjo people, Bakiga who have displayed their art crafts in the trading center. There are also areas where you can participate in the cultural dances and taste some of their sumptuous meals. Walk around the neighboring communities to explore more.