Wildlife Safaris | Best time to go: December to mid-March and from mid-June to mid-August
Destination: Kampale/Entebbe – Rwenzori Mountain National Park
Activities: Wildlife Safari, Hiking Safari
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The three highest peaks in the Rwenzori Mountains range are Margherita (5109m), Alexandria (5083m) and Albert (5087m), all on Mt Stanley, the third highest mountain in Africa. The Rwenzori Mountains range, which isn’t volcanic, stretches about 110km by 50km wide and is home to an extraordinary number of rare plants and animals, and new examples of both are still being discovered.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a Ugandan national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rwenzori Mountains. Almost 1,000 km² in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. The Unesco World Heritage–listed Rwenzori Mountains National Park contains the tallest mountain range in Africa, including several peaks that are permanently covered by ice.
Two mammals are endemic to the range, the Rwenzori climbing mouse and the Rwenzori red duiker, as are 19 of the 241 known bird species. Despite this, this is one of Uganda’s less-visited national parks, and so nature lovers wanting to escape the safari crowds should definitely put it on their list.
Rwenzori Mountains Highlights
- Peaks – Margherita (5109m), Alexandria (5083m) and Albert (5087m)
- Extraordinary number of rare plants and animals
- 241 known bird species
- Very wet and muddy, with trails that are often slippery and steep
- The six-day treks are the most popular
- best times to trek are from late December to mid-March and from mid-June to mid-August, when there’s less rain
- Combine with a safari to Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Forest National Parks
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About Rwenzori Mountains
In AD150, the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy wrote of as now capped mountain range, deep in the heart of Africa that, he claimed, was the source of the Nile and which he called the Mountains of the Moon. Over the centuries this curious notion of tropical snow faded into mythology and, when John Speke found the Nile’s exit from Lake Victoria, a place in fiction for the Mountains of the Moon seemed assured. But then, in 1889, Henry Stanley emerged from central Africa to announce that such a mountain did exist. He mapped it by its local name of Rwenjura – or ‘rainmaker’.
In due course mountaineers explored Ptolemy’s Mountains of the Moon. Though just miles north of the Equator, they found in the high Rwenzori glaciers and snow peaks whose meltwaters represent the highest springs of the Nile. These trickle downwards into U-shaped glacial valleys where, supplemented by up to 2500mm of rain/year, they saturate the broad valley floors to form great soggy bogs. Within these rain and mist filled troughs, loom specimens of Africa’s bizarre high altitude vegetation and stunted trees enveloped by colorful mosses and draped with beards of lichen.
The remarkable landscape is bisected by the Uganda-Congo border which passes through Mt. Stanley the highest peak. The Ugandan Rwenzori is protected by the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and, in Congo by the Virunga National Park. The park can be explored along a 7-day trail that meanders along the Mobuku and Bujuku valleys beneath the highest peaks. Though distances are short, the terrain, altitude and weather combine to create a tough trek, the diffi culty of which should not be underestimated