Lying along the slopes of the majestic “Mountains of the Moon” is the Rwenzori Mountains national park. The park was listed as a world heritage site in 1994 by UNESCO for its unrivaled beauty just a few years after being officially opened in 1991. The park is situated in the south western part of Uganda and on the east side of the western rift valley. It shares borders with Democratic republic of Congo and Virunga national park also a UNESCO world heritage site.
The park lies in the districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo. It covers almost half of the Rwenzori ranges gifting the park with glaciers, waterfalls, snowfields and lakes making it one of Africa’s top beautiful mountain parks. Its position in the rift valley blesses the park with a huge bio diversity ranging from big game like elephants, buffalos, bush babies, leopards and endemic species to this park like the Rwenzori red duiker.
Over 89 bird species call the park home and pull a numerous population of birders every year. Wildlife in Rwenzori varies with the elevation and usually provides an intriguing chance to visitors to explore all this beauty in one package.
The main reason for most visitors to this park is the exceptional quest to conquer the equatorial snow peaks of the “Mountains of the moon”. While on this hike you will witness tropical rainforest to alpine meadows and snow. The park supports its own species like giant lobelia, heather enveloped in moss that thrives on its peaks and other exotic plant species making it one of the best mountaineering destinations in the world.
There are many bird species to lookout for while here; most importantly the Albertine Rift endemics such as the Rwenzori Batis, Shelley’s Crimson wings, Rwenzori Turaco, Montane (Rwenzori) Nightjar, Dwarf Honey guide, Archer’s Robin-Chat, , Stripe-breast Tit and any true birder will never be disappointed in Rwenzori national park as the experience starts even before entering the gates of the park.
Hiking & Mountain Climbing
The Rwenzori Mountain is second in height in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro. Christened as the Mountains of the Moon, the snowcapped mountain is recommended by devote hikers as one of the best in the world.
Rwenzori’s unique landscape makes it stand out by having the biggest glaciers in Africa and incomparable beauty towering over those of Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya. The Congo side which is drier provides an easier and striking approach to reach the summit range.
Mountain Rwenzori offers exclusive hiking packages through its well designated circuits, ranging from 1 day nature walk up to 8 days trek which take you to its highest peak Margherita at a height of 5109m above sea level.
There is an opportunity to interact with different cultures around the foothills of the Rwenzori from visits to villages to dancing and drumming lessons, be ready to experience the old ways of life from the people of the Mountains of the Moon on village walks, stays or visits near the park.
Of all communities leaving around, Ruboni is the most fascinating one since it offers more than all the rest. Here you get to meet blacksmiths who mold iron into tools such as knives, visit women basket weavers and some of the elders who narrate of the ancient ways and how life changed from the way it was in the past.
Rwenzori mountains national park caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Its lodging varies from luxury to budget and a few recommendations are provided.
Hotel Margherita: Located a few kilometers from Kasese town, the hotel boasts of the best up end services you can get in the area.
Rwenzori International hotel: located a few minutes’ drive from Kasese airstrip in the heart of Kasese town, this facility offers top services with midrange costs.
Ruboni community camp: At the foothills of Rwenzori the camp offers guests with budget but good services with gorgeous views of the mountain in the background without leaving the comfort of your rooms. Also you camp in the well maintained gardens of this facility at a modest cost.
Visitors can use either road or air transport to reach Rwenzori Mountains National Park. One can use the Kampala – Fort Portal route via Mubende which usually takes 5-6 hours or one can opt to use the Kampala via Masaka route, connecting to Bushenyi and finally Kasese a journey that takes approximately 7-8 hours.
Chartered flights can be planned and it’s only 30 minutes to land in Kasese from Kajjansi or Entebbe. Other connecting flights from other parks, like Pakuba airstrip in Murchison falls National Park are also available.
With all the beauty and splendor it has, Rwenzori mountains national park is among the least visited parks. Visitors looking for a less crowded and peaceful holiday make it a point to include this park on your list.