Mount Rwenzori National Park
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Be the first to know the history, location, size, attractions and activities done in Rwenzori Mountains national park: facts that will tickle your heart into visiting and jotting your name in the record book at the third highest mountain in Africa; after Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. Mount Rwenzori national park derives its name from the iconic Mountain Rwenzori at its centerpiece.
Known as the Mountains of the moon; the giant snow-capped mountain Rwenzori towers above the equator region of southwestern Uganda and east of the great Albertine Rift Valley; neighboring Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The park covers about 996 Km2, the length is approximately 120km, 48km wide and shared by three districts namely; Kabarole, Bundibugyo and Kasese.
This park was designated in 1991 and because of its diversity declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. In the period between 1997 and June 2001, rebels occupied the area, thus rendering it insecure, and being included in the list of world heritage sites in 1999 and 2004, however, this is all history now.
Half of the park; central and eastern area is occupied by the giant snowcapped mountain Rwenzori; with its Margherita peak rising past the dry plains at the northern equator, 5109mtrs above sea level. There are also other two summits at the park notably; Mountain Speke, and Mount Baker, all giving an unforgettable memory during an adventure in the area. The park is composed of waterfalls, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and a very breathtaking landscape.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is under the management of the Uganda government through the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is an amazing destination for Mountaineering activities, nature walk, cultural adventure, birding, and many more. Trekking and climbing trail routes, campsites, and accommodation and several other formalities have been put in place for tourists from across the world. The moderate hikers reach the mountain summit and descend in 6-7 days. The mountain has a lush concentration of alpine flora, notably the groundsels, heathers, and lobelias.
There is a profusion of wildlife in the park, with the majority of the species common to the Albertine rift valley, and others reported as endangered species in the park. Other residents include over 15 butterfly species, over 89 bird species such as the famous Rwenzori Turaco, over 5 primate species, and reptiles such as the 3 horned chameleons. The wildlife species include; Hyrax, forest elephants, Duiker, L'Hoest's monkeys, and the black and white colobus monkeys. It is also known for a wide range of rare tree species
The mountains are well-known for their unique alpine flora which includes many species endemic to the Albertine Rift in the higher altitude zones including giant heathers, groundsels, and lobelias. The Park also supplies local communities with various wild resources and is an important cultural heritage.
The first Europeans to explore mount Rwenzori include; Alexandrian – geographer and researcher who described it as the "mountains of the Moon", and the other explorer was Henry mutton Stanley in 1899 who was stunned and nick named it "Cloud Mountains".
Watching birds fly, sing, or relax in the different tree branches and the mountain slopes is a remarkable adventure. There are over 25o unique bird species recorded here of which they are not limited to; Rwenzori Turaco, purple-breasted and sunbirds dwarf honeyguide, francolin, montane nightjar, Shelley's crimson wigs, Rwenzori Batis, and strange weaver bird among others. Birding is done through the guidance of an expert guide who helps in finding and identifying the different bird species.
Mountain climbing is the main activity at mountain Rwenzori national park after paying a given cost which caters for potters and park rangers. It is done all year round through the guidance of expert ranger guides who know all the corners of the park.
Reaching the ice-covered peak lasts for about 6-9 days depending on one's speed and fitness, as well as the prevailing condition of the place. This hike exposes you to a wide range of botany, farmlands, water bodies, fascinating landscape and vegetation among others.
Hikes and nature walks
Besides having a hike to the summit, you can also have a simple tour at the mountain base, exploring the lakes, several geographical features and relaxing engaging different activities such as fishing among others.
Either as an independent activity or in addition to hiking, you have an unforgettable encounter with the natives living around the Park, notably the Bakonzo. In the 1-6-hour exchange, you will gain a great wealth of knowledge in line with the lifestyle, dress code and traditional performances such as dance, music and stories. This experience is usually done at Ruboni village.
Accessing Rwenzori mountains
You can access Mountain Rwenzori national park through either Kigali - Rwanda to Kasese; 3-4 hours’ drive, or Entebbe to Kasese with an enroute stopover in fort portal city. Through Entebbe, you will spend 5-6 hours either by bus or private means. Preferably, you can charter a plane from Entebbe international airport to the airstrip in Kasese.
There are pocket-friendly accommodation facilities around the park that perfectly suite your taste, notably; Hotel Margherita, Rwenzori international hotel, Katara lodge and equator snow lodge among others.
Best time to visit
Months of December to February and June to October are the best because they are in most cases dry and thus no worries of rain that can interfere with the activities such as hiking.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one of the finest destinations to have a trip to. It has a wide range of flora and fauna, very accessible, safe and rewarding. Make it your next destination!