The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is located at the extreme end of Uganda in the southwestern part of the country and it borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The total coverage of the park is (386 km2) and it borders the districts of Kasese, Kabarole, and Bundibugyo. The park was proclaimed a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 due to its glamour, hot springs, glaciers, rare plants, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and mountains.
The Rwenzori Mountains were first hinted at as early as 300 by Claudius Ptolemy from Alexandria who cited to them as the (Mountains of the Moon) and claimed it to be the source of the prominent river Nile. These accusations were later established and confirmed as truth by the great British explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1888 when he unexpectedly saw the mountain ranges as he was on a dispatch around the coast of Lake George. And he named these ranges ‘Rwenzori’ (borrowed from the natives). Duke of Abruzzi, Prince Luigi Amedeo da Savoia from Italy was the first notable to hike on Mt. Rwenzori. As he was forcing his route via the thick forests around 1906, he found out the mountain in full with its attractive lakes and the snowcapped acme.
Besides the mountains, the park is recognized for its plants, birds, and animals. The park has an unpolluted landscape with a high-level solidity of trees and other greenery. The amalgamation of sunshine, cold, and heavy precipitation boosts plant life is seen secluded on Earth. The bottom of the mountain has African savanna providing a home to many mammal species like the black and white Colobus monkeys, rock hyrax, Rwenzori Colobus, Rwenzori otters, the Rwenzori climbing mouse, blue monkeys, giant forest hogs, red duiker, forest elephants, Sitatunga, buffaloes, bushbuck, chimpanzees, golden cats, serial line genet, Mongoose, Leopards, Uganda clawed frog and L’Hoest’s monkeys. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is among Uganda’s best birding places. 217 bird species and fifteen (15) butterfly species have so far been recorded inside the park. The most considerate reptile is the three-horned chameleon.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is unique because of the eye-catching landscape that is unique to the area. Similarly to Mount Elgon National Park in Mbale eastern Uganda, the major attraction point is mountain climbing. There are other activities enjoyed by visitors at Rwenzori Mountains National Park and these include; nature walks, site seeing, forest hiking, and cultural visits as discussed below;
The best mountain hikers in the world have also hiked in the Rwenzori Mountains. This activity in the park is the most valuable, it is organized to world-class standards. Unexperienced hikers sometimes find getting to the highest peak (Margherita) extraordinarily difficult. The shorter and less difficult hikes are also organized around the mountain not necessarily hiking far up to the snowcapped peaks.
There are two hiking routes that hikers always use to get to the peak. The first is the Central Circuit Trail which starts from Mihunga lasting for 7 days. Hiking on this route is only organized by the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services and the second trail is the Kilembe trail where hikers start from Kilembe near Kasese town. This route is new and it was recently opened, it is organized by the Rwenzori trekking services and it lasts for 5 days to reach one of the summits.
The most appropriate manner of organizing hiking tours to the park is to use the services of a tour operator/company. At Kisoro Tours Uganda, our tour operators help our esteemed clients in organizing transport and booking accommodation facilities and also organize with the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services in making arrangements for porters, hiking guides, and cooks. Costs for hiking to the peak of the mountains involve payments of 2 porters, the guides, a cook, the rescue mission, the lodge, and heating. Business videos/filming are charged 200US$ per day and an extra 1,000US$ which is compensated once a hiker shares a copy of the videos to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The standard park entrance fee is 40US$ per day. For more details about the hiking trails, contact us at Kisoro Tours Uganda or even in the comment section. Travel with Kisoro Tours Uganda for the lifetime experience
Mountain climbers who are inexperienced have got another option of hiking to the mountain slopes and forests or even participating in activities like fishing along some streams in the mountains. As in the forest, check out for the three-horned chameleon (endemic). This rare reptile is only endemic in Uganda, DRC, and Rwanda. The female chameleon is hornless but the male chameleon has 3 horns which allows easy identification.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) marked the Rwenzori area as one of the spot areas for Birding in Uganda. The park and its mountains gives support to many bird species and these include; the Barbets, the Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, the African Long-eared Owl, Collared Apalises, Crimson wings, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimson wings, Archers’ Robin-chat, Blue-headed Sunbird, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, the Dwarf Honeyguide, Evergreen Forest and Bamboo Warblers, Flycatchers, Golden-winged sunbirds, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, the Golden-winged Sunbird, Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike, Lammergeiger, Long-eared Owl, Montane Masked, Montane Rwenzori Nightjar, the Greenbuls, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, the Francolin, IIladopsis, Kivu Ground Thrush, the Ogden’s Bush-Shrike, Montane Sooty Boubou, the Olive Woodpecker, the oriole-Finch, the red-faced Crimsonwing, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, the red-throated Alethe, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, the Rwenzori Batis, the red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Rwenzori Batis, the Rwenzori Turaco, the slender-billed Starling, Strange Weaver, the stripe-breast Tit, Western Green Tinkerbird, the white-collared Olive-back and White-starred Robin,
The Park provides distinguished opportunities for, unlike cultural experiences and practices with one of the local cultural tribes living at the bottom of the mountains. Tourists go ahead to visit the villages of Ruboni to experience their livelihood and the ancient history of the Bakonzo cultural tribe. The Bakonzo people always organize cultural dance presentations as they share out facts about their ancient history.
Going to the Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail is also one of the interesting cultural experiences. This gives more outreach to the fascinating culture of Bakonzo. There is added advantage to visiting a traditional and cultural healer and indigenous blacksmiths. Visitors/tourists here learn how to make fire locally by rubbing sticks and how to weave baskets. This Cultural Trail also leads visitors to the Bakonzo Traditional and Cultural Museum. The provincial museum gathers traditional items of cultural/historical uses to the Bakonzo art pieces and locally made dresses are also included.
These walks are always organized near the boards of the park by registered companies like the Rwenzori Mountain Services ‘RMS’ and the Backpackers in ‘Kilembe’. The walks organized by the RMS are meant to heed towards the central circuit zone followed by mountain climbing. The points near the commencing point for mountain hiking are forested/covered with attractive and beautiful views and this proceeds stretching up to Lake Mahooma and up to the chimpanzee forest of Buraro. There are other interesting places/areas for visiting during nature. Kisoro Tours Uganda shall help you organize these nature walks with these companies. Travel with Kisoro Tours Uganda for your lifetime experience.
From Uganda’s capital Kampala, there are two possible ways to reach the park. The first is the use of road transport. This can be private or public means but driving from Kampala-Kasese takes almost 7-8 hours. Fact that the area is mountainous in nature, Kisoro Tours Uganda advises travelers to use good 4 Wheel drive cars. Visitors who consider the road distance journey too long, choose the second alternative which is by using a hired flight from Entebbe international airport or even Kajjansi Airstrip direct to Kasese. By air, the journey will only last for one hour and a half at most. The moment you arrive in Kasese, Kisoro Tours Uganda drivers are ever ready to pick you up from the airstrip directly to your reserved hotel or to the park.
As you plan to visit Rwenzori Mountains national park for any activity, Kisoro Tours Uganda guides you that it is important to take note that the park’s temperatures are extremely cold even during the dry and hot seasons. Therefore it is not advisable to hike in the Mountains during the rainy months between March and June, and then between September and October. In these months, the area can get very cold to the extent of the trails get too slippery and sometimes full of mud. There are other important factors that must be noted and put under consideration which include;
There are a variety of hotels and lodges around the park that provides budget facilities, mid-range facilities, and luxury facilities and these are;
Hotel Margherita, Rwenzori International Hotel, Katara Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge, Elephant Plains Safari Lodge, Equator Snow Lodge, Tropical Savannah Guest House, Tours Holiday Inn, Ruboni Community Camp, Mihunga Safari Lodge, Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Rwenzori Backpackers, and Sandton Hotel Kasese.