Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda Mountain Hiking Safari
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a perfect destination for hikers to embark on challenging hiking/mountaineering adventure safari. The park is home to mystical Rwenzori Mountain ranges (Mountains of the Moon) and is situated in Western Uganda, close to Congo border about 120kms South of Lake Albert and North of Lake Edward. Rwenzori Mountains National Park was designated as a national park in 1991 and in 1994, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park is reachable about 5-6 hours from Kampala capital city.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park sits on an area of about 996sq.km, comprising mainly of mystical Rwenzori Mountain ranges-which consists of 6 peaks-the Margherita peaks at 5109meters on Mount Stanley; Mount Gessi, Emin, Luigi da Savoia; montane forest consisting of bamboo, hagenia, alpine moorland, and tree heath. This park straddles between altitude 1700 and 5109 meters with Margherita peak being the highest peak. Rwenzori Mountains National Park derives its name from Rwenzori Mountain ranges.
Wildlife in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Over 70 mammal species thrive within Rwenzori Mountains National Park and they include among others the Angolan colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, golden cats, elephants, black and white colobus monkeys, leopard although rarely spotted, bushbucks, duikers, Rwenzori otters.
Birdlife in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
About 217 distinct bird species can be identified on Uganda safari in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. They include 19 Albertine rift endemic species. The birds to identify on birding tour in this park include Lagden’s bush shrike, red-faced woodland warblers, cinnamon chested bee-eater, golden-winged sunbird, long-eared owl, archer’s robin chat, Rwenzori turacos, white starred robin, slender-billed starling, Shelley’s crimson wings, strange weavers, red-throated athlete, Kivu ground thrush, montane masked and collared Apalis, stripe breast tit, purple breasted sunbirds, western green tinkerbird, grey chested illadopsis, olive woodpeckers, red thighed sparrow hawk, oriole finch.
Other attractions in Mt. Rwenzori National park
There are over 20 scenic lakes are within Rwenzori Mountains National Park including Lake Mahoma which is the most reachable. Lake Bajuku is along the valley of Mount Stanley, Speke, and Baker.
Activities to do in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
What sets the Rwenzori Mountains National Park apart from the rest of Uganda’s parks is its thrilling and lifechanging mountaineering experiences. Climbing Mount Rwenzori is by far the most exceptional safari experience offered to visitors in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The 2 trails to hike to the summit of Rwenzori Mountain ranges include the Central circuit trail and the Kilembe trail which is ascending trail on the Southern foothills of Rwenzori Mountains.
With over 217 distinct bird species, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is of no doubt an incredible birding safari destination visitor on Uganda safari should consider visiting. The birds to identify on birding tour in this park include red-faced woodland warblers, cinnamon chested bee-eater, golden-winged sunbird, long-eared owl, archer’s robin chat, Rwenzori turacos, white starred robin, slender-billed starling, Shelley’s crimson wings, strange weavers, red-throated athlete, Kivu ground thrush, montane masked and collared Apalis, stripe breast tit, purple breasted sunbirds, western green tinkerbird, grey chested illadopsis, olive woodpeckers, red thighed sparrow hawk.
Nature walks are an exceptional way to discover in and around Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The best spots to explore on a nature walk in this park are Lake Muhooma via Buraro chimp forest, Karangura ridge then connect to Kichwamba Communities. You can also embark on guided forest walks via Ruhoni communities, proceed about 2300 meters which comes with an amazing view of Margherita peak. On guided nature walks, expect to see vervet monkeys, birds, chameleon to mention but a few.
Enhance your experience in Rwenzori Mountains National Park by embarking on a cultural tour in the Bakonzo community just at the base of Rwenzori Mountain ranges. On a cultural tour, pay a visit to the traditional healer, basket weavers, black smith or enjoy stories as they are told by Bakonzo.
Best time to visit Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Visits to Rwenzori Mountains National Park can be done at any time of the year. However, July, August and January, February are considered the best months to visit this park.
How to access Rwenzori Mountains, National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park can be accessed by road or by air. By road, it consists of a drive from Entebbe or Kampala through Fort Portal or through Mbarara. Alternatively, flight services are available from Entebbe Airport to Kasese airfield from where one connects to Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
In conclusion, for a thrilling adventurous safari experience in Uganda, a hike to Rwenzori Mountains National Park is truly a rewarding experience.
PARK AT A GLANCE
- Size: 996km2
- The park was gazetted in 1991 and was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 and the Ramsar site in 2008.
- Highest point: 5,109m above sea level on Mt Stanley’s Margherita Peak. Mt. Stanley is bisected by the border with DR Congo.
- The Rwenzori is not volcanic like East Africa’s other major mountains but is a block of rock upfaulted through the floor of the Western Rift Valley.
- The Rwenzoris were christened the “Mountains of the Moon” by the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150.
- The explorer Henry Stanley placed the Rwenzori on the map on 24th May 1888. He labeled it ‘Ruwenzori’, a local name which he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.”
- The oldest recorded person to reach Margherita Peak was Ms. Beryl Park aged 78 in 2010.
The Rwenzoris – the fabled Mountains of the Moon – lie in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border. The equatorial snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, while the lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest. Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers”, creating an enchanting, fairytale scene.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.
The Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine- to twelve-day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.
For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.
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