Call it “mountain of the Moon” named by Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD150; Ruwenzori, Rwenjura, Rwenzori or Rwenzururu and you will be taken to the south western part of Uganda; east of the Democratic republic of Congo where Africa’s second tallest mountain Summit stands. In local dialect the word Rwenzori Means “cloud-king”/” rain Maker”.
The tallest part of Mountain Rwenzori is snowcapped, and stands at 5109 mtrs above sea level, and with rivers running down stream to the Nile. The Margherita summit on Mount Stanley is the highest peak of this mountain. It is believed to have been formed aver 3 million years ago, as a result of the crystalline rocks granite, amphibolite, gneiss and quartzite. Through the uplift; the paleolake Obweruka was split, forming three of Africa’s great lakes; Lake Gorge, Lake Edward, and Lake Albert.
Mount Rwenzori is the highest non-volcanic mountains in the world. In width it is 65kms, and in length 120kms. The mountain features about 6 massifs separated by gorges; Mount Luigi di savoia at 4627mtrs, 15180ft; Mount Gessi at 4715mtrs,15469ft; Mount Emin at 4798mtrs, 15741ft; mount baker at 4843, 15889ft; mount Speke at 4890, 16040ft; and Mount Stanley at 5109mtrs, 16762ft. Mountain Stanley has several summits but Margareta peak is the highest and covered with snow.
The vegetation cover features the tropical rain forests, giant groundsel, giant lobelia, alpine meadows to its snow, and the tall heather covered in moss. The five overlapping vegetation zones at the Rwenzori are; Bamboo zone at 2800 to 3300mtrs; naval zone at 4400 to 5000 mtrs; alpine zone at 3500 to 4500mtrs; heather zone at 3000 to 12500ft; and the ever green frost zone at 2800mtrs. The vegetation cover is unique to the equatorial Alpine Africa.
Mountain Rwenzori is equated to “the Mountain of the moon” by the legendary explorers who first identified it in the 19th century. In 1864, Sir Samuel baker and Henry Mutton had to report as a “Blue mountains” emerging from a distance. Forward to 1875 and 1888; Stanley visited the ranges and named as “Rwenzori”. In 1906, the Duke of Abruzzi visited the mountain and made remarks published by filippo De filippi. He named several ranges such as Mount Luigi savoia. The first tour around the 6 massifs was done from January to 13th February 1975.this was done by Leszek, Polish climbers Janusz chalecki, and Stanislaw cholewa. Miroslaw kuras joined them in the last half.
Present day; mountain Rwenzori is one of the premier safari destinations in Africa. It is in Mountain Rwenzori national park; about 400kms from Uganda’s capital city Kampala. The park prides in over 70 mammal species including the bushbucks, duikers, elephants, Rwenzori otter, leopards, the giant forest hogs, the three horned chameleons and more; primates such as the Angola Columbus monkeys, chimpanzee monkeys; blue monkeys; black and white Colobus monkeys. Birds number about 177 species. 1994; Mountain Rwenzori was recognized as a world Heritage site and listed among the world geographic as one of the best destinations for hikes.
Make a story by going 5109mtrs above the ground. Most hikers spend 7 days and nights to ascend and descend Margherita peak which is the second highest summit in Africa. This summit is covered by permanent ice snow thus requiring proper preparation and exercise. What to carry on this adventure so as to beat the altitude sickness includes; sleeping bag, warm clothing, warm camping tent and more.
Some of the circuits at the mountain are; the central hike circuit (6-7 days hike); Nyakalengija central circuit and Kalembe trail near Kasese town; and Kazingo trail near fort portal town. Hikers spend nights in the different huts designated at specific points of the mountain.
It is a special thing knowing birds, and with Mountain Rwenzori having over 177 bird species; what a great offer. About 19 species of the birds belong to the Albertine rift, and the rest to the forest zone. Notably birds include; long eared owl, Lagden’s bush shrike, golden-winged sunbird, white-starred Robin, slender-billed starling; cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Rwenzori Turacos and more. Best bird watching spot is the montane forest area.
Have a walk at the slopes of Mount Rwenzori. You do follow river mubuku trail to grab the glimpse of the summits and Mount Baker. There is a chance of encountering among others the chameleons, several bird species, vervet monkeys, squirrels, and more.
Best time to visit mount Rwenzori is during the months of June, July, august, December, January and February. They are the best months to engage in trekking or mountain climbing because there is no or low rains. Regardless, you can also take you trip here any time of the year.
Mount Rwenzori is one of the premier hiking destinations in the world. It is in the western part of Uganda, 6-7 hours’ drive from the capital city Kampala.