Ruwenzori Mountains National Park
Located in the western part of Uganda, Ruwenzori national park is bisected by the Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo border which passes through Mt. Stanley known to be the highest peak. The Ruwenzori Mountain is protected by the Rwenzori Mountains national park in Uganda, Virunga national park in Congo. It can be accessed along a 7 day trail that moves along the park, and Mobuku and Bujuku valleys beneath the highest peaks. It should be noted however that the terrain, altitude and weather combine to create a rather tough trek of which its difficulty may not be underestimated though the distances are short.
Rwenzori Mountains national park has an area of 998 sq km and was named after the famous Rwenzori Mountains. It is also famously known as the legendary “Mountains of the Moon.” This is one of Africas tallest mountain range with an elevation of 5,109m. The Rwenzori range has got 6 major peaks: Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890m), Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savio (4,627). Mt Stanley complex also known as the Margherita peak is said to be the highest with 5,109m and it’s this peak that makes the Rwenzoris the 3rd highest range in Africa.
What to do:
The major holiday activity to undertake in the park is hiking. This activity takes you though all fauna zones and finally ends on the glacial peaks. Visitors can also go for shorter hikes that are arranged. It goes without saying though that hiking usually takes seven days. While ascending the mountain, the trail will lead you through various dramatic vegetation zones. This is followed by the lovely heather-rapenea zone between 3000 4000m characterized by giant tree- heathers, garishly colored mosses and drab beards of lichen. Amazing forms of giant lobelia and groundsels are also first found in this zone. It should be noted however that these plants persist into the highest Alpine zone between 3800 4500m. It is at this point where they are joined by wiry but pretty thickets of helichrysum.
The park is also blessed with Bigo bogs in the upper Bujuku valley which are colonized by tussocks of sedge that provide climbers with useful (but rather wobbly) stepping stones with which to negotiate these muddy sections. Faunal species present here include Elephant, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, Bushbuck, Chimpanzee and Leopards. The park also hosts various primates such as Black and White Colobus and the Blue Monkey, as well as the Hyrax, the elephant’s diminutive cousin. Birding is another tourist activity here as the park is one of the most important bird areas in Uganda. There have been 214 species recorded among which 19 are endemic to the Rwenzoris, and others are limited to few forests along the Albertine rift valley.
Where to stay:
The park has a central circuit that is provided with basic mountain huts however visitors are advised to come with their own sleeping bags and sleeping mats. There also camping rooms that are available at the circuit’s Nyakalengija trail head at Ruboni campsite and is provided by Rwenzori backpackers’ hostel. There also other options that exist in Kasese, fort portal and in neighboring queen Elizabeth.