Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Within the western part of Uganda is a unique marvelous natural geographical feature that towers high above the sounding terrain in Uganda and this is the majestic Mountain Rwenzori. Commonly referred to as the “Mountain of the Moons”, this great mountain lies on Uganda’s boarder with the Democratic Republic of Congo lying west of Uganda and this has been one of the main attributes for which Uganda was named the “pearl of Africa.” It was declared among the UNESCO world Heritage Sites and is a very great wonder within Uganda. The Rwenzori Mountain actually needed not to be announced publicly to the a well known as it majestically stands as the third highest roof-top on the African continent.

The mountain rises to a height of 5109 meters with its highest peak being permanently covered with snow. The Rwenzori has 6 peaks with the highest of all being the Margherita at 5109 meters. This is followed by the Alexandria peak at 5083 meters, Mount Satnely, mount Speke peak at 4890 metetrs, Mount Emin peak at 4791 meters, mount Gessi and Mount Luigi at 4715 meters and 4625 meters respectively.

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 the highest mountain range in Africa. 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.

These mountains of the moon are known to be magical wonders since they are filled with seeming magical wonders as you hike to the top of this mountain. Its filled with various vegetation zones including; the Afro montane zone that is seen in a magical appearance. The other vegetation cover ranges from tropical rain forest through the Alpine meadows to snow. It supports its own species as well as varieties of both giant lobelia as well as groundsel. There is also heather that is covered in moss. This vegetation overlaps as follows; Evergreen forest zone, the bamboo zone, the heather zone, the alpine zone, the nival zone.

Things to See

Rwenzori Mountains offer variety of things to see and do; there are many activities in or near the park for those who like to be off the beaten tourist path. This mountain range is the tallest in Africa and its taller than the Atlas of Europe. This is a long journey of about 8 days depending on the route and the activities that one will engages in. this rugged beauty of this mountain is what the visitors come for in Uganda. There are many things to do and see when you visit Rwenzori Mountains and spend time in the foot hills of the mountains as you enjoy the wonders of this park and the nearby communities like the village of Ruboni.

The Rwenzori Mountains have got very stunning scenery; this can’t be missed by the visitors to Uganda, the closest the visitors can get is to see the mountains from a distance, not having the idea that they can enjoy these mountains without climbing then in the foothills of the ancient mountains that are formed by a platonic shift of the earth with in the ancient times.

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.

Things to Do

Rwenzori Mountains is also known for hiking; there are many opportunities of hiking in the Rwenzoris involving the 3 day hike through the mountains which gives you the best of the mountains of the moon. The 7 day hike is one of the most popular in Rwenzori. Uganda is so memorable and it leads you to Margherita peak that happens to be the tallest peak on Mt. Rwenzori. The mountain will offer you a unique experience that you will be looking for in Africa. The Uganda mountain hiking tours that lead you up the mist shrouded peaks give very stunning backdrops to these magnificent mountains, there are over 6 main peaks including; Mt Stanley, Mt Speke, Mt Baker, Mt Gessi, Mt Emin Pasha, Mt Luigi as well as Mt Margherita which is the highest peak.

There are also day hikes as well as Nature walks; there are many day hikes that can take you from a village like Ruboni including forest walks that include learning how to fish with your hands from mountain streams, climbing to the top of a mountain streams, climbing to the top of a mountain for a good view of the Rwenzori mountains, the cultural interaction and many more.

This mountain is also good for birding; the bird lovers will enjoy over 217 bird species including the Albertine Rift endemics. Among these are the 17 species that are endemic to the park making Rwenzori a vital birding area. The forest Zone only contains many birds including; Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Archers’ Robin-chat, White-starred Robin, Montane Sooty Boubou, the Rwenzori Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Rwenzori Batis, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Slender-billed Starling, Blue-headed Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Strange Weaver and several varieties of Barbets, Greenbuls, Apalises, IIladopsis, Flycatchers and Crimsonwing.

The mountain has also got many unique creatures that are like from the moon in the mountains and these include; the three headed chameleons.

There are also many opportunities of interactive cultural visits with in the foothills of the park. These includes from village visits to drumming and dancing lessons, learning the ways of old from the keepers of the mountains on the village walks, the visits as well as village stays.

There is climbing to the top, for those who like more of the mountain of the moon, there are many chances to explore the peaks as well as the glaciers of the mountain on the longer climbs. You can also stay around the mountain in the new cottages in the Equator Snow lodge or you can go budget style in the Ruboni community camp with self contained bath rooms. You will also see many animal species here like the monkeys, snakes, chameleons and many more.

Vegetation Zones on Mount Rwenzori

The Rwenzori mountain has five deferent vegetation zones that include the vast grasslands that cover an altitude of 1000 to 2000 meters, the montane forest between altitude of 2000 to 3000 meters, this disappears into the bamboo zone at 2500 to 3500 meters, the heather zone at 3000 to 4000 meters and further higher the afro – alpine – moorland at 4000 to 4500 meters moving higher you will find the rough snow covered rocked. Each zone supports a different plant cover with the giant lobelia as well as the giant cactus being the most prominent plant species.

The lower altitudes of the Ruwenzori are sheltered by thick tropical rain – forest with intersperse with a number of rivers. The soils are very fertility and the areas receive heavy rainfall all throughout the year. Trekking along the lower slopes is quite challenging and the terrain is damp, muddy and slippery.  The verdant forest supports a diversity of tree species that offer shelter to small animals like monkeys.

Wildlife on Mountain Rwenzori

The slopes of the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ provide habitant to a diversity of wildlife among which are several primate species such as the white and black colobus monkeys, the L’Hoest monkeys, and chimpanzees; other mammals like forest elephants, hyrax, and duikers; about 15 butterfly species, over 85 bird species like the Francolin, Montane Nightjar, Archer’s Robin Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Montane Masked Apalises, Red throated Alethe plus the dwarf Honey-guide.

Tourist attractions on Mountain Rwenzori

The most prominent tourist activity on mountain Rwenzori is hiking. The hikes journey you through the different vegetation zones all the way to the high glacial peaks. The hikes can accommodate both amateurs and professional hikers with a number of short hikes organized specifically for the less physically fit. Normally to summit the peaks, it requires a hike of seven days allowing better acclimatization as you hike to higher altitudes.

Nature walks are another interesting activity that is often carried out on this beautiful mountain accompanied by well trained nature walks with great knowledge about the flora and fauna of the area around including the different tree species, varieties of butterflies, primates and other large mammals.

Bird watching through the lower slopes of the mountain unveiling to you the various bird species among which are a number of endemic species worth seeing.

What to bring to Mountain Rwenzori

Below I have listed some of the key items you require if you are going to hike this great mountain Rwenzori:

A Sleeping bag,  cameras, a rucksack, binoculars, a sleeping mat, a hat, good strong hiking boots, sun glasses, sun cream, water-proof trousers,  a cup,  insect repellants, a rain coat(since the rains up on the mountain are very un predictable), a sweaters, a heavy warm jacket, Light changeable clothes, a pair of hand gloves, torch, a scarf and a jumper.

We welcome you all to  join in on the very adventurous yet challenging fun with  ultimately very rewarding experiences as you hike to the roof top of one of the highest mountains in Africa; the Mountain of the Moon (Mountain Rwenzori).

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