Mountain Rwenzori – the Mountain’s of the Moon

Uncovering the world’s highest non-volcanic and non-orogenic Mountain range.

More often than not, the name “Rwenzori” resonates with the popular phrase, “Mountains of the Moon”. This is mainly because of the permanent glaciers that grace the Margherita peak of this magnificent Mountain range. However, there is more to this ancient non volcanic and non-orogenic mountain range than is often let on.

For instance; the name “Rwenzori” can be loosely translated from local dialect to mean, “rain maker”. Moreover, Diogenes, an Arabian sailor claimed that the Rwenzori Mountain range is the actual source of the Nile since many streams from the mountain pour into River Nile.

In addition, Mount Rwenzori offers elusive scenery that spans over 120 km of tropical rain forest, bamboo, moorland, alpine meadows and snow. Unusually large lobelia and groundsel line the edges of the trails as you climb higher.

Fauna

Apart from the captivating plant life, Mount Rwenzori is home to atleast 70 mammal species and 177 bird species. Within the heavy thickets are animals such as Forest Elephants, Rwenzori Otters, Leopards and some antelope. Primates and reptiles are present as well.

When it comes to the birdlife, you have the opportunity to spot some Albertine Rift endemics especially in the montane vegetation zone. Some species look out for include; Rwenzori Turaco, Long eared Owl, Rwenzori Batis, Golden winged Sunbird, Barred Long Tailed Cuckoo and cinnamon chested bee eater among many others.

Mount Rwenzori trek

The snowy and glaciated peaks coupled with wild vegetation and rocky terrain make Mount Rwenzori one of the best places to be in Africa. While hiking Mount Rwenzori, you are bound to discover a beauty that is rather rare; spanning plant life that is confined to equatorial alpine Africa and scenery that was naturally designed to leave a lasting impression.

Routes

There are mainly three routes used when trekking Mt. Rwenzori Uganda. These are; the central circuit trail, Bukurungu trail and Kilembe trail. The Mahoma loop central camping trail is often designated for mountain lovers that seek a shorter adventure but still want to experience the Rwenzori magic.

The central circuit trail

This is the oldest, most popular and possibly the easiest route to Margherita peak. It features a winding trail starting off at Mihunga gate (1,651 metres) through a series of vegetation zones all the way to the summit. Many hikers opt for the central circuit trail because it is relatively short and does not require expert mountaineering skills to accomplish. Furthermore, the central circuit allows hikers to connect to other Mt Rwenzori hiking trails.

As the name suggests, the “central circuit” trail loops back between Mt Baker and Stanley allowing you fresh views of the portal peaks and a spectacular landscape detailing the “mountains of the moon”. Expect the most adventurous hike as you explore the marshes on raised wooden walkways and encounter a number of birds such as the Rwenzori Turaco and a variety of primates. This trail often takes 7 to 10 days to accomplish.

The Kilembe trail

This is the most challenging route when hiking Mt Rwenzori Uganda. It is quite longer than the central circuit trail and mostly features rough rugged terrain that requires expert mountaineering skills. Often hikers on this route will find themselves faced with steep out growths dominating the entire route and have to use a lot of energy to overcome these obstacles and reach the summit. With that said, the Kilembe trail is not recommended for inexperienced or unfit hikers.

Where this challenging trail lacks in simplicity and ease, it makes up for in beauty and unbeatable splendor. From the moment you start your hike, you are served an amazing display of deep set vegetation spawning into giant lobelia and groundsel as you hike further up. Hikers are advised to carry necessary equipment for maximum safety on this route. Mt Rwenzori hiking adventures on this trail last between 8 – 12 days and offers great birding opportunities.

Bukurungu trail

Just like the Kilembe trail, this Mount Rwenzori hiking route makes for immensely beautiful scenery and landscape viewing. It is a less challenging route suitable for nature lovers who have the heart for raw wilderness. Hikers on the Bukurungu trail will have the absolute opportunity to see Mount Rwenzori’s magnificent lakes such as Irene, Mughuli, Bukurungu and Bujuku. There are various waterfalls, pools and streams as well that make for the perfect photography spots.

Mahoma loop central camping trail

This trail is a get-a-way for mountain lovers that are unable to take on the arduous trek to the summit. It starts off at Mihunga gate in Mount Rwenzori National Park following a 28 km long loop along the edge of the mountain offering natural scenery that you might not find elsewhere. Hikers on the Mahoma loop central camping trail often encounter plenty of primates, birds and smaller mammals. Unlike the three trekking routes, this nature trail offers accommodation in form of camping amidst the wilderness.

What to pack

  • Waterproof jacket or rain coat
  • Comfortable hiking boots
  • Warm clothes; preferably long sleeved shirts and trousers
  • Insect repellents
  • 3 litre bottle to store drinking water
  • Warm gloves and ear plugs
  • A back pack and light snacks especially the good chocolate that doesn’t melt.

When to go

Mountain climbing is often better off done during the dry seasons. This will improve the odds of preventing a down pour as you attempt to reach the summit on your Mt Rwenzori trek. Hikers, however, should note that the “mountains of the moon” has permanent glaciers and temperatures are thus expected to drop. Also, prepare for snow fall especially as you approach the summit, irrespective of whether it is the dry or wet season.

Conclusion

Hiking Mount Rwenzori is one of the most rewarding adventures on safari in Uganda. This beautiful mountain is crowned by permanent glaciers; clear water streams and a transition of vegetation zones that make it seem rather euphoric. Contact our team of travel experts now to book a Rwenzori Mountain hiking adventure!

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