Mountain Rwenzori National Park, the fascinating mystical challenge
Mountain Rwenzori has for so many years intrigued many Africa safari adventurers who have dared to summit this mountain range that raises up to 5109m above sea level making it Africa’s third-highest mountain range. It is therefore only befitting if we make a detour this incredible mountain as we explore Uganda’s safari destination you should visit in 2020-2021.
A Uganda safari to Mt Rwenzori National Park takes on a 400km or 7-8 hour journey from Kampala to Kasese in South Western Uganda where this park is located in the Albertine rift valley on the border of Uganda and D.R. Congo. In Uganda, this Rwenzori mountain covers the districts of Kasese, Kabarole, Bundibugyo, and Ntoroko spanning a distance of about 120 km long and 65 km wide.
What does the name Rwenzori mean?
The name Rwenzori was baptized to this mountain by Henry Morton Stanley who was the first European explorer to see this mountain and added it to the world map on May 08th, 1888. The name Rwenzori has its origins from the local Lukonzo language of the Bakonzo people who habituate on the lower slopes of this legendary mountain, this name comes from the word Ruwenzori which means “Rain Maker” as the Bakonzo believed that all the rain which they received originated from this mountain since they believed that it touched the skies given its incredible height and they would usually see its higher peaks shrouded in dense fog which they mistook to be skies.
What are the weather conditions in Mt. Rwenzori National Park?
As you prepare for your Uganda hiking tour here, you have to understand that Mt Rwenzori experiences a variation in temperature given its variation in height. The areas below 2000m above sea level experience temperatures between 25-30oC, areas between 2000m-3000m above sea level have their temperature in the range of 15-20oC, areas between 3000m-4000m have their temperatures varying between 0-10oC and areas above 5000m have temperatures ranging between 0- -10oC. This essentially means that if you’re considering what to pack on A Uganda safari tour to this park, you will need clothes that will keep you warm in the upper part of the mountain which is cold and also a raincoat jacket in case it decides to rain while you’re here. Sunglasses shouldn’t miss among the list of items to pack to protect your eyes from the incessant tropical savanna heat, sunscreen and insect repellent should also make it to this park list. If you’re an ardent birder, a good pair of binoculars will always come in hand as this park is home to over 217 bird species hence you may need to zoom and get a clear sight of several of these birds which might be far away from your eyesight.
Does it snow in Uganda?
Yes, it is surprising that when you come to Uganda during your Uganda tour, you stand a chance to see snow regardless of the fact that Uganda is a typical tropical country with relatively warm temperatures throughout the year which might not favour the existence of snow in this country, however, with the presence of Mountain Rwenzori and if you take 7-8 days off during your Uganda wildlife tour or Uganda gorilla safari to engage yourself in a stunning Uganda hiking tour to the summit point of this mountain, I assure you, you will be in for a snow treat in Uganda given that this mountain raises up to a staggering 5109m above sea level.
The highest peak of Mountain Rwenzori is called Margherita and this raises up to an astounding 5109m above sea level making it the third-highest point on the African continent behind Tanzania’s Mountain Kilimanjaro and Kenya’s Mount Kenya respectively. However the latter 2 mountains are block mountains unlike Rwenzori which consists of numerous ranges, this, therefore, makes it the highest mountain range in Africa.
Does Uganda have other mountains apart from Rwenzori?
Yes, Uganda has many other mountains beside Rwenzori and these include Mount Elgon and Mountain Moroto and these are found in the Eastern end of Uganda on the borderline with Kenya. Deep in the Southwestern corner of Uganda lies another chain of mountain ranges called the Mgahinga ranges. These mountain ranges are part of the larger Virunga ranges which consist of 8 ranges that are shared by three countries of Uganda Rwanda and Congo. This, therefore, means if you don’t want to spend many days hiking to the summit of Rwenzori during your visit to Uganda, you still have quite a number of different mountains you can possibly hike in fewer days ranging from 1- 5 days.
Can I trek mountain Rwenzori?
Yes, you can ably trek the Rwenzori mountain and if you wish to go all the to the top of this mountain, you will need to hike for 7-8 days to get there and return. A hike to the top of this mountain can be achieved following either the Central Circuit Trail or the Kilembe trail. However, if you don’t have the 7-8 days that are required to go all the way to the top and descend back, you can still enjoy a short hiking experience in Rwenzori as there are numerous short hiking trails that have been put in place to cater for you and these would take you on a hiking adventure in this mountain for 1-3 days.
Rwenzori National Park is gifted with rich biodiversity that is evidenced by the existence of numerous flora and fauna species
What fauna attractions are found in Rwenzori National Park?
Rwenzori Park is home to 70 mammal species and these include African forest elephants, Leopards, Forest buffaloes, Red forest duikers, African civets, the pygmy flying squirrel, several primate species such as Ugandan red colobus monkeys, Black and White colobus monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, Giant Forest Hogs, Bushbabies and many others.
What Bird species can be seen in Rwenzori Park?
The Rwenzori national park is one of those places you should never miss out especially if you’re on A Uganda birding safari simply because this park is has got over 217 bird species in its backyard and several of these are the endemic species to the Albertine region. Some of the bird species that have made this park a stunning Uganda birding tour destination include the Handsome Francolin, the Dwarf honeyguide, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori nightjar, Dusky & Shelly’s crimson wing, Kivu ground thrush and many others
How to get to Rwenzori National Park?
Depending on how much time you have and how long you want to stay in Rwenzori National Park during your Uganda safari, you can decide to fly or to drive to Rwenzori Park. As of today we now have charter flight companies that ply from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese airstrip however you need to consult with your local tour operator on the availability of this flight on the day you intend to travel because this flight is subject to a minimum number of passengers being available for it to operate. If you choose to drive to Kasese where this mountain is found, I can guarantee that you won’t regret this choice because it’s a very fascinating 6-7 hour drive to get this park. As you embark on this 398km journey expect to have several stops such as one at the Mityana local market and this which gives you an opportunity to take your taste buds on a culinary journey as you taste some Uganda’s purely organic tropical fruits that will tantalize your taste buds due to their absolute sweetness. Other things that may come your way is Uganda’s very own KFC version of chicken and this will be a roasted chicken skewered on sticks and if you aren’t a fussy feeder, this is your moment to have a taste of this fire-grilled finger lingering goodness. Your next stop comes around when you meet the sprawling tea estate fields of Mpanga and these will mesmerize you as they will seem nothing like tea plantation but rather expansive playing fields. Make your way to Fort portal where you will have lunch then visit the Amabeere ga nyina mwiru caves before you finally proceed to Rwenzori national park which is 75km away from Fort portal
What activities are done in Rwenzori National Park?
Mt Rwenzori National Park is rich with a wide range of biodiversity including wild mammals, birds, and the Bakonzo people that are found on the lower slopes of the mountain. This, therefore, makes this park a very unique place to visit as you can engage in quite a number of activities such as an epic hiking adventure to the top of the mountain, cultural encounters, birding, nature hikes and primate tracking.
What are the safari lodges/ accommodations that are found in Rwenzori National Park?
Rwenzori Park has got a wide range of safari lodges that are located within or on the fringes of this incredible conservation area. These lodges ranges from luxury to midrange and budget types.
Equator Snow Lodge
Elephant Plains Safari Lodge
Midrange lodges here include:-
Sandton Hotel Kasese
Springs International Hotel Kasese
Budget safari Lodges include:-
Rwenzori Turaca view campsite
Ruboni Community Camp
During our next episode on the Uganda Safari Destinations to visit in 2020-2021, we will be visiting Mount Elgon National Park – to encounter the World’s largest Caldera.
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