An early explorer, DW Freshfied (1906) said, “ ..you may be familiar with the Alps and the Caucasus, the Himalayas and the Rockies, but if you have not explored Rwenzori, you still have something wonderful to see.”
In the 300 AD, the Alexandrine geographer Claudius Ptolemy suggested that the Nile had its source from snow peaks on the Equator, the ‘Lunus Montae’ or ‘Mountains of the Moon’.
The Mountains of the Moon and other mysteries or the African interior were finally revealed to the world during the 19th century when explorers penetrated the region.
In 1888, Henry Morton Stanley while on expedition at the shores of L. George sighted the snowcapped peaks. Early mountaineers, most notably the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906, fighting upwards through dense forests of trees and bamboos, discovered a surreal landscape in which fantastic vegetation surrounded spectacular lakes and equatorial glaciers flowed down from the snowcapped peaks.
Rwenzori Mountain National Park lies on an area of 995 sq.km and covers the districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibugyo in Western Uganda. It was designated as a World Heritage site in 1994 which implies that it’s conservation is therefore not only of national and regional importance but also of great international importance. The Rwenzori ranges stretch 100 km long and 50 Km wide; the ranges rise up to about 5109 m ASL-Margherita peak. Rwenzori Mountains National Park ecosystem ranges from dense rain forest, bamboo, heather, alpine ecosystem and the snow/glacier fields.
|START TIME||by 8:30 AM.|
|END TIME||At approximately 7:00 PM.|
|WEAR||Comfortable athletic clothing, hiking boots, hat, jacket and sunscreen.|
Day 1: TRAVEL TO KASESE DISTRICT
After an early morning breakfast, our guide will drive you through Mubende, to Fort Portal for lunch at gardens restaurant before you proceed to Kasese district. Kasese is an industrial town with factories, including a cotton ginnery along the main road as it bypasses the town centre. It is not really worth a detour unless you need to stock up on supplies. It is the main base for expeditions into the Rwenzori Mountains.
Day 2: Nyakalengija (1648 m) to Nyabitaba Hut (2651 m)
After an early morning head to Nyakalengija, where the trail begins. At this point is where the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS) are situated. Climbers are briefed and receive equipment for use. The 10 Km ascent goes through homes and fields progressing through bamboo and high elephant grass, dense bushes. Along the way are possible sights of blue monkeys, three horned chameleons, white colobus, and the Rwenzori turaco.
Follow the Mubuku River before ascending a steep ridge of glacial moraine to Nyabitaba Hut (2651m).
Day 3: Nyabitaba (2,651 m) to John Mate hut (3,505 m)
Start with a steep descent to cross the Mubuku River, followed by a long hike along the boulder-strewn sides of the Bujuku valley through forest, bamboo and heather zones to John Matte Hut (3505m). The walk through the bamboo forest is relatively easy but, before reaching Nyamuleju, there is a long hard climb upwards. It is here that you will go through the heather and groundsel towards Nyamuleju– which was locally christened as place of beards, a name that refers to the moss and lichen that hang from trees.
Day 4: John Mate Hut (3505m) to Bujuku (3900)
Cross the famous Bigo Bog and the Upper Bujuku Valley beneath the massive cliffs of Mount Baker. Begin by crossing the river and then head for the left-hand edge of the valley, skirting around the bog. You will find it almost impossible to avoid getting muddy. Bigo hut (3,444m) accommodates 12 persons and is in fairly good condition. The route skirts Lake Bujuku to reach Bujuku Hut (3962m) at the head of the valley between Mounts Stanley and Speke. Lake Bujuku Hut is the base for those planning to climb Mount Speke (4889m).
Day 5: Bujuku (3962m) to Elena Hut (4541m)
The route climbs the rocky Groundsel Gully and steep slopes to Scott Elliot Pass (4372m) for an unforgettable view back down towards Mount Speke and Lake Bujuku down the U-shaped Bujuku Valley. The climb finishes at Elena Hut (4541m) below the snowline of Mount Stanley. Serious climbers hoping to reach the highest point on the range, Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley (5,110m), should base themselves at Elena Hut (4,541 m). This is located about 2 Km off the circuit and is about 3-4 hours from Bujuku or Kitandara huts.
Day 6: Elena (4541m) to Margherita Peak (5109m) Kitandara Hut (4023m)
The Big Day! Start before dawn for the chilly trek through snow and ice to climb to the 5109m Margerita Peak, the roof of the Rwenzori, before the views and the route are obscured by mist. The descent returns to Scott Elliot Pass and descends the deep Kitandara Gorge to a mountain hut by the twin Kitandara lakes (4023m). To reach the summit, the climb takes about 5-7 hours depending on the weather conditions and the pace of climbing this mountain. This tough walk takes you over three glaciers, slippery rock, ice and very exposed areas which are open on many sides. This climb is for the physically fit and technical climbers. Climbing on the glaciers, cross the Stanley Plateau and proceed with the ascent. Acclimatized to fog, altitude sickness and coolly weather, scramble up to the summit of Margherita.
Day 7: Kitandara (4023m) to Guy Yeoman (3505 m)
If you go on to the Guy Yeoman Hut this is a walk of about five hours. The day begins with a steep climb to the Freshfield Pass (4,282 m), followed by a descent to a rock overhang called Bujongolo. This is where the first expedition to explore the mountains in 1906 based itself. A little further on is a second, larger rock shelter called Kabamba located close to a waterfall, where you can spend the night. Alternatively you can continue on to the Guy Yeoman Hut (3,505 m), one of the newer sites.
Day 8: Guy Yeoman (3505m) to Nyabitaba (2651m)
The descent to Nyabitaba takes around 6-7 hours but with an early start it is possible to make it all the way down to Nyakalengija. Below Guy Yeoman, the route descends the cliffs of Kichuchu. Beyond Kichuchu the muddy path crosses the Mubuku river twice before climbing upwards to Nyabitaba to complete the circuit. Hikers may overnight here or continue to the trailhead at Ruboni for greater comfort.
Day 9: Nyabitaba hut (2651 m) back to Nyakalengija Hike (1648m)
Leave Nyabitaba hut early retracing out route back to the Rwenzori mountaineering services offices. This 10Km trail usually takes 2 to 3 hours. Descending through Mubuku river and through fields to the park headquarters to hand over the rented equipments or pick up any luggage that you may have left here. Dinner and overnight at …………………….
Day 10: Travel back to Kampala
Transfer back to Kampala / Entebbe Airport for your outbound flight. The distance by road may take you 6-7 hours through Fort Portal Highway.