Rwenzori Mountain National Park
Rwenzori Mountain national park is the only national park in Uganda found in the south-western region of Uganda mainly located in the Mountain Rwenzori ranges which is commonly known as the Mountain of the Moon, one of Africa’s most beautiful mountains and famously known as the third tallest mountain with the highest peak in Africa.
Rwenzori mountain national park is famously known for its exceptional natural beauty, incomparable unique alpine flora, stunning waterfalls, lakes, snowfields, and glaciers. This park was established in 1991 under the protection of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), it lies along Uganda’s border with DRC covering an area of 996 km2. The park is located in three districts namely Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kasese districts.
The Rwenzori Mountain National Park is home to a variety of species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift system, over 271 bird species, 15 butterfly species, 4 primate species, and a vast number of wildlife including the African forest elephant, Chimpanzee, Hyrax, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Rwenzori duikers, Giant forest hog, Rwenzori Otter, bushbucks, Leopard, Rwenzori turaco and many more.
How to get to Rwenzori Mountain National Park
Rwenzori Mountain national park can be effortlessly and safely accessed by either Road or Air transport as long as tourists are accompanied by a tour guide, especially when using road transport however the distance depends on the point of origin and the routes taken.
- From Kampala to Kasese via Mubende and A109 road, it is 350km taking approximately 6 hours.
- From Kampala to Fort portal via Mubende, it is 300km taking approximately 4 hours.
- However, tourists can as well access Rwenzori mountain national park from other national parks like Kibale Forest national park and Queen Elizabeth national park.
This is the easiest and quickest means of getting to Rwenzori national park where tourists use domestic charter flights either from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kasese Airstrip which takes approximately 2 hours.
Attractions in Rwenzori Mountain National Park.
Rwenzori mountain national park is naturally blessed with unique attractions including unique green vegetation, rare flora and fauna, stunning waterfalls, rivers, lakes, hot springs, glaciers and the most significant of all is the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.
Rwenzori mountain national park is found in the Mountain Rwenzori which is famously known as The Mountain of the Moon due to its permanent white snowcapped peaks it is ranked as the third largest mountain in Africa with the highest peak known as Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley found on Mountain Rwenzori. This Mountain lies on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwenzori Mountain hosts a variety of wildlife and it has unique vegetation including rare afro-alpine plants, and tropical rain forests it is the source of the famous longest river in the world found in Africa known as River Nile.
Rwenzori Mountain national park is home to a vast number of wildlife including species which are endemic to the Albertine Rift system and over 70 mammal species. The park’s wildlife varies with its altitude, its wildlife and primate species include the African forest elephant, Chimpanzee, Hyrax, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Rwenzori duikers, Giant forest hog, Rwenzori Otter, bushbucks, Leopard and many more which can be observed on a game drive.
Birdlife and butterfly species
The park has over 89 bird species and 15 butterfly species found in the forest zone including Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared owl, Archers’ Robin-chat, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed and Golden-winged sunbird, white-starred Robin, Slender-billed Starling, Cinnamon-chested Bee, and many more bird species.
The park is known for its exceptional five distinct natural vegetation zones including the bamboo zone, heather zone and afro-alpine, montane forest, grassland, and moorland zone. The giant lobelia, giant heathers, and groundsels are some of the most striking plants found at higher altitudes above 3000m. The vegetation found in this park offers a wonderful view of the park which is worth exploring.
Rwenzori mountain national park boosts of over 20 stunning scenic lakes including Lake Kitandara, Lake Mahoma, and Lake Bujuku which lies at the deep glacier curved Bujuku valley between the famous mountains however Lake Mahoma is the most accessible one of all the 20 lakes. These lakes can be easily seen during hiking on the Mountain Rwenzori ranges.
Rwenzori Mountain national park situated in the Mountain Rwenzori ranges is blessed with River Nile which is famously known as the longest river in the world found in Africa. Mountain Rwenzori is a vital water catchment considered one of the most permanent sources of the River Nile. River Nile flows in over 11 African countries into the Mediterranean Sea. River Nile is an ideal attraction worth exploring while in Uganda.
Mountain Rwenzori has four notable peaks which are permanently covered with white snow and glaciated. These snowcapped mountain ranges of Mountain Rwenzori include Mount Stanley which is the highest at 5,109m, Mount Baker (4,842m), Mount Speke (4,890m), and Weismann’s Peak (4,620m). The highest peak is Margherita Peak found on Mount Stanley which is the most loved peak by mountain climbers.
Rwenzori Mountain national park has two astonishing waterfalls which are locally known as the Twin waterfalls which are created by two distinct rivers. The falls are known as Rwatha falls which is the longer one and Nyamughasana falls which is the bigger one. These unique falls offer a magnificent view of the park.
Land of Triffids
Rwenzori Mountain national park has glacier-curved valleys with a variety of unique rare triffid-sized flora including Lobelias, Gnarled trees, the 6 meters (20 ft) tall heathers covered with moss and groundsels which are genus Plantae with a striking appearance due to their insulation system which offers a unique and pristine landscape of alpine vegetation.
This is a cultural heritage site well known as a small community inhabited by the Bakonzo people who originally live on the slopes of mountain Rwenzori. The Bakonzo people are as well-known as Bakonjo who depend on Agriculture and livestock keeping, they are best known as small people, short and dark-skinned. Ruboni Community offers a great opportunity to tourists who are interested in experiencing different African cultures through interactions, dancing, singing, and trying their delicious locally-made dishes.
Activities are done while in Rwenzori Mountain National Park
This is one of the most exciting and thrilling ways of exploring the great Mountain of the Moon which comprises 6 mountain Massifs however Mount Stanley is the most popular summit and is liked by many tourists though mountain climbing can as well be done on other summits depending on one’s physical fitness and health. Mountaineering up to the snowcapped Margherita peak on Mountain Rwenzori offers a great view of incomparable unique alpine flora, wildlife, birdlife, stunning waterfalls, lakes, snowfields, and lush valley glaciers.
Hiking is mostly done up to Weismann’s Peak starting from Kilembe whereby tourists hike through the forest, bamboo zones, and lush valleys. During the trek, tourists are able to observe a variety of wildlife, bird species, and unique afro-alpine plants and they will have a wonderful scenic view of the park, waterfalls, snowfields, and fascinating water bodies including lakes and rivers.
The guided nature walk is an awesome opportunity whereby tourists explore the natural habitat of the wildlife in this park which offers an insight into African nature, wildlife, and a variety of bird species. During a nature walk, tourists are able to observe a variety of both wild animals and bird species at a close range for a clear view and photography while in Rwenzori Mountain national park following the central circuit zone and other trails taking you to several communities like Kichamba
Rwenzori mountain national park is a great birding destination that hosts a variety of bird species in the montane forest such as the Albertine rift endemics, migratory and iconic bird species including Sunbirds, Robins, barbets and Bee-eaters Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared owl, Archers’ Robin-chat, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed and Golden-winged sunbird, white-starred Robin, Slender-billed Starling, Cinnamon-chested Bee, and many more bird species.
Game drives are done on different trails through the park whereby tourists are accompanied by experienced park rangers and guides on a 4×4 open-sided vehicle which is an excellent experience of viewing wildlife at a close range. During the game drives, tourists can spot animals and primates such as the African forest elephant, Chimpanzee, Hyrax, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Rwenzori duikers, Giant forest hog, Rwenzori Otter, bushbucks, Leopard, and many more.
Cultural tours in Rwenzori Mountain national park allow you to explore the cultural heritage of the Bakonjo people who live on the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori in the Ruboni community. While in the Ruboni community, Tourists are able to interact with the locals as they get to know more about their traditional lifestyle, and connect with them, especially through listening to their stories, dancing, and singing. This offers you an unforgettable cultural experience since the Bakonjo people are connected to the park.
Accommodations in Rwenzori Mountain National Park
Rwenzori Mountain national park has excellent accommodation options with good services, employees, and modest restaurants in a safe natural environment as well as nearby towns. The following are the hotel accommodations; Rwenzori International Hotel, Snow Valley Cottages, Springs International Hotel Kasese, Ruboni Community Camp, Kamwe Kamwe Hotel and Spa, Mbara Safari Resort, Equator Snow Geo Lodge, Mbunga Campsite, Rwenzori Homestay, Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite,
When to visit Rwenzori Mountain National Park
Rwenzori Mountain national park can be visited throughout the year however the best time to visit this park is during the dry season from June to August and December to February when the trekking trails are dry and passable especially during mountaineering unlike during the wet season which makes hiking difficult since the trails are slippery and the fog is always present. Safaris to this park can be combined with other nearby parks.
Cost of Mountain Climbing on Mountain Rwenzori
The cost of trekking the mountain Rwenzori depends on the number of people as well as the number of days you would like to spend on the mountain. The cost includes the guides, porters, food, wages, park entrance fees, accommodation in the mountains, client’s food, gas fuel, chef, government tax, and climbing equipment. Below are some of the costs based on nationality and days
Trekking the central circuit with Margherita peak ascent;
- Foreign non-residents pay $1250 only
- East African residents pay $1100 per person
- Ugandan citizen per person pay $550
A 5-6 day trek of the central circuit only without peak climbing costs Foreign nonresidents $1000 per person, East African residents pay $950 per person, and for the Ugandans, it’s only $450 per person.