Rwenzori Mountains National Park, with a geographical area of 966 sq km, protects the upper slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains sometimes referred to as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ – the snowy source of the Nile River referred to by early geographers. Africa’s highest range, with six distinct mountains above 4600 m translates into a montane Wonderland in which misty snow peaks loom above glaciated valleys filled with fantastic giant forms of lobelias, heathers and groundsels. Its loftiest peaks include Margherita (5,109m) and Alexandra (5,083m) on Mt Stanley. These are exceeded in altitude by only Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya both of which are extinct volcanoes standing in isolation above the surrounding plains. The Ruwenzori ranges contain four other glacial peaks besides Mt Stanley. These include Mt Speke (4,890m), Mt Gessi (4,715m), Mt Emin (4,791m), and Mount Luigi da Savoia (4,627m).
The Ruwenzoris are not only famous for challenging hiking and climbing possibilities. They have a well-deserved reputation for being very wet at times. This was best summed up by a comment on the wall of Bujuku hut: ‘Jesus came here to learn how to walk on water. After five days, anyone could do it.’ The ranges support a diversity of fauna including 70 mammal and 177 bird species, several of the latter being Albertine Rift Endemics. The park is the only one in East Africa where the Angola colobus has been recorded. Besides, the black-and-white colobus monkeys are widespread on the mountains. Similar to other East African mountains, the Rwenzoris can be devided into several altitude zones, each with its own distinct microclimate and flora and fauna. The forest zone which commences around 1,800m has the most varied fauna. Some of the mammals present here include Angola colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey, chimpanzees, elephants, golden cat, servalline genet, yellow-backed duiker, and giant forest hog among others.
The forest zone accommodates a diversity of birds including Rwenzori Turaco, handsome francolin, white-starred forest robin, Archer’s Ground Robin, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, long-eared owl, Rwenzori Batis, bar long-tailed cuckoo, Lagden’s bush shrike, golden-winged sunbird, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver and a variety of barbets, flycatcher, greenbul, apalis, montane sooty boubou, illadopsis, slender-billed starling and crimsonwing.
Beyond the altitude of 2,500m, true forest gives way to dense bamboo forest stands. Between the altitudes 3,000m and 4,500m, the open vegetation of heather and Alpine zones is renowned for its otherworldly quality: forest of giant heather plants, and giant lobelias and groundsel up to 10m high. The beautiful Lobellia wollanstonii and Senacio addmiralis are most common above 3,800m. Mammals are rare above the forest zone, but there a few birds worth looking out for: the Lammergeyer (bearded vulture) and black eagle are occasionally seen soaring overhead, whereas the alpine and scarce swifts andd scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird are confined to high altitude habitats in East Africa.
Safari Activities to do in Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is an ideal Birder’s paradise due to the numerous species of birds that inhabit the green forest vegetation around the Mountain. All avid birders from all over the world should visit the Park to watch the brilliant vibrant birds of Uganda which include; Rwenzori Turaco, Bamboo Warbler, Golden-winged Sunbird, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird and Stuhlmann’s Double-collared Olive-back, Long-eared Owl, Bearded Vultures, Swifts and Black Eagles, Bee-eaters, Robins, Sunbirds and Barbets.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Rwenzori Mountain National Park is an ideal Hiking and Nature Walks Safari Destination due to the remarkable safari adventures it offers to all that take part as they transfer from one place to another along the different trails. Various beautiful views of the green forest habitat terrain, birds species and small wildlife as well as primates. The trails lead up to Lake Mahooma and the Buraro Chimp Forest then to the local communities of Kichamba, Karangura Ridge then Bundibugyo Region through the Bwamba Pass. The Rubono and Turaco View offer guided Forest Nature Walks along River Mubuku watching the Portal peaks at a distance.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park offers amazing unique Cultural Adventure Tours to all travelers at Ruboni Community Camp a home of more than 2000 Bakonzo People who give you an insight into their way of living since ages. They perform various arts through Music, Dance and Drama as well as carrying out various activities which you get involved in an adventure experience that is so unique, worthwhile and very fulfilling. Take time to enjoy encounters with the local Bakonzo People an adventure so amazing.
Mountain Climbing is the most prominent safari activity carried out in the Park offering you views of the Portal peaks and Rwenzori’s prominent and highest Margherita Peak. The National Park comprises of two various routes that are used to get to the top of the Mountain and these include; the Central Circuit Route which takes 7 Days starting at Mihunga up wards to the Bujuku Valley via Nyabitaba then to the Margherita Peak. Another route is the Kilembe Trail which starts at Kilembe near Kasese Town and follows along the Nyamwamba Valley following the Glacial Lakes to Lake Kitandara watching Mount Baker Peak. All hikers around the world should not miss out on visiting the Park to climb Africa’s Highest Block Mountain.