Mountain Rwenzori National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site located in the south western region of Uganda. The mountain Rwenzori national park lies on the east side of the western Albertine rift valley along Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border. Mountain Rwenzori National Park is one the oldest and high altitude protective areas covering most of the central and eastern portion of mountain Rwenzori, the park covers an area of 996 square kilometers stretching in the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, and Bundibugyo. The park is also like mount Elgon national park which holds a mountain unlike other National Parks in Uganda.
Mountain Rwenzori mostly christened the mountain of the moon by a geographical researcher and photographer Alexandrian is the third highest mountain in Africa at an altitude of 16700 feet above the sea level, the mountain is a snowcapped magnificent feature and the glaciers are sources of water to river Nile the world’s longest river. Mountain Rwenzori is composed of beautiful peaks which are good for mountain climbing, these peaks include Margherita peak the highest peaks, Mount Speke, Mount Baker, Mount Stanley, Mount Emin Pasha, Mount Luigi da Savoia. This stunning mountain christened “Cloud Mountains” because of its unique scenic peaks by Henry Morton Stanley is the major tourist attraction in mountain Rwenzori national park because of its scenic view and a wide range of ecological systems. Mountain Rwenzori portrayed as one of the attractive Alpine areas in the world is covered by beautiful and unique flora at different altitudes including unique mountainous vegetation with magnificent features such as glaciers, snowfields, and waterfalls.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is an enchanting destination is well known for unique botany with distinct vegetation zones i.e. moorland, bamboo, colorful mosses, huge tree- heathers and rich moist montane forest which blanket the slopes of the mountain at a different altitude. There are also giant forms of Senecio and lobelia rarest vegetation species which are only limited to East African mountains on altitude above 3800 meters.
Mountain Rwenzori national park was established a national park in 1991 primarily to conserve its unique ecological system from growing human pressure, because of its unique and outstanding natural beautify the park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. The park was later inscribed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in danger between 1999 and 2004 because of insecurity which was caused by rebels who used the deep forests as their cover.
Tourist Attractions in mount Rwenzori national park
Wildlife: Mountain Rwenzori national park is home to a variety of wildlife species hosting a population of 70 mammal species in the dense vegetation cover, among these mammals, there is six Albertine rift endemic species, three rare species and four species endemic to mountain Rwenzori as a park. These animals include elephants, chimpanzee, Rwenzori otter, leopard, duiker, hyrax bushbucks, primates include Angola black and white colobus, blue monkeys, and l’hoests monkeys. There are also unusual reptiles such as three-horned chameleon, due to the dense forest cover these animals are not usually seen.
Birds: Mountain Rwenzori National Park is a bird paradise and an important birding area sheltering approximately 217 bird species with various endemic Albertine rift species, 17 of which are endemic to the park and these birds are encountered in the forest zone of the park. Bird species such as Rwenzori Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Archers’ Robin-chat, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis, Montane Sooty Boubou, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Slender-billed Starling, Blue-headed Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Strange Weaver and several varieties of Barbets, Greenbul, Apalises, IIladopsis, Flycatchers and Crimson wings and many more.
Lakes: Rwenzori national park contains over 20 beautiful scenic lakes which can be seen while on a hike on the mountain such as Kitandara lakes, Lake Mahoma, Lake Bujuku. Lake Bujuku lies at the apex of the deep, glacier-carved Bujuku valley in the shadow of three summits of Mount Baker, Mount Speke, and Mount Stanley. Lake Mahoma is the most accessible lake out of the 20 situated at the altitude of 2651 meters, this lake can be reached on by using the central circuit.
Equatorial snow peaks: The great snowcapped mountain Rwenzori consists of 6 summits which are permanently covered by snow and glaciers despite of them being situated a few miles from the equator, among these peaks there is 3 of them which are most loved by hikers that is mount Stanley the highest with 5,109 meters, mount Speke at the altitude of 4,890 meters and baker at the altitude of 4843 meters .minor peaks include mount Emin pasha, Mount Luigi da Savoia
Bulemba Bulemba houses: Bulemba Bulemba houses are historical sites in mount Rwenzori national park sheltering the historical remains of the first king of Rwenzururu kingdom and other historical leaders, among these leaders Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga is the most prominent of all who are believed and appreciated for his efforts in saving the Nakonzo tribe from batooro oppression. This site is where the bakonzo people convene annual on 2nd September to attend a pilgrimage in remembrance to the great king.
Land of the triffids: There is a variety of strange flora in the glacier-carved valleys of Rwenzori Mountain, these strange florae are triffids-sized forms of rare lobelia, heather, groundsel, crish, gnarled trees, and colored mosses. These strange plants are ranked among the world’s sound botanical riches which only blossom on the highest mountains of East Africa.
Rwenzori mountain national park managed by Uganda wildlife Authority is a fascinating tourist destination offering a number of fascinating safari activities such as
Mountain climbing or hiking: Mountain Rwenzori national park is the most exciting hiking destination in Uganda, hiking in this park takes place on the great mountain Rwenzori leading to the six summits where you get to encounter fascinating lakes, vegetation, and animals. While hiking on Rwenzori Mountain you follow two demarcated trails which lead you to the unique mysteries of the park, trails followed are
Central circuit trail. The central circuit is a seven days trekking beginning from Mihunga past Nyabitaba along Bujuku valley leading to the magnificent snowcapped peaks.
Kilembe trail: Kilembe trail ascends from the south slopes of Rwenzori Mountain at Kilembe near kasese town, this route navigates through glacial lakes in the mountain through Nyamwamba valley joining the central circuit at Lake Kitandara.
Hiking on Rwenzori Mountain is very rewarding as you get to enjoy the enchanting scenic view of the peaks, the beautiful vegetation, and the surrounding. While planning for a hiking trip, it is important to note that the best experience is got during the dry months of July-august and November to February when the routes are less muddy. For a wonderful hiking experience, you have to be in possession of hiking essentials such as
- A porter to carry your bags
- A hiking stick
- A map
- Refreshing water
- Hiking boots
- First aid kit
- Waterproof clothing including jackets, long sleeved shirts
Hiking on mountain Rwenzori is arranged and operated by Rwenzori Mountain Service ( RMS ), an organization that works in conjunction with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority.
Nature walks: Nature walks in mountain Rwenzori national park take the tourist through the beautiful features in the park such as Mahoma, nature walks usually take place in Kilembe and the central circuit which are also used for mountain climbing. Nature walks in the park takes the tourist through Buraro chimp forest, Karangura ridge and local communities of Kichwamba, a tourist can also hike to Bundibugyo through bwamba pass. On nature walks a tourist get an opportunity of encountering river Mobuku, the amazing snowcapped peaks and also a variety of wildlife such as elephants, vervet monkeys and bird species such as Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Archers’ Robin-chat, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis.
Birding: Mountain Rwenzori national park is a bird paradise where many bird species can be seen, in the deep forests bird species such as bee-eaters, robins, sunbirds and barbets, the Rwenzori Turaco, long-eared owl, the bearded vulture, swifts and black eagles can be seen.
Culture encounters: Mountain Rwenzori National Park is home to many local ethnic tribes on the outskirts of the park, tribes such as Bakonjo, bakonzo Bamba peoples who demonstrate their local way of life daily. While on a safari in these communities there are trails that are followed such as Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail where you get to experience and encounter the local traditional healer Muhima, black smiting, basket weaving, traditional fire making and also Kamusonge river. A tourist can also visit the traditional thatched Konzo museum which showcases Rwenzururu culture, their history, the royal regalia and their cultures like dressing code, handcrafts and many more.
Rwenzori mountain national park is 437 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda, can be accessed through is two main entry points of Nyakalengija central circuit and Kilembe Trail in kasese using both air and road, by road Kampala via Fort Portal road can be used. By air, you can use chartered flights from kajjasi airstrip and Entebbe International Airport to Kasese airstrip.
Accommodation in mountain Rwenzori national park can be got from Ruboni community camp, Equator Snow lodges, hotel Margherita, Rwenzori international hotel, Katara lodge, tours holiday inn, Mihunga safari lodge, Rwenzori Turaco view campsite, Ihamba lakeside Safari Lodge, Rwenzori Backpackers, Sandton Hotel Kasese and many more.