Located in Western is a beautiful Rwenzori Mountains National Park, one of the 10 Uganda National Park. The park occupies an extensive area, about 1000sq.kms of land area and hosts the legendary Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon. Established in 1991, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects 70 species of mammals though some of these often spend their time in the dense rainforest. They include leopard, forest elephants, eastern chimpanzees, l’hoest, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, bush bucks, duikers etc.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one of the most looked for birding destinations in Uganda. It houses 217 bird species and the species of visitor interest include olive pigeon, handsome francolins, greenbuls, golden winged sunbird, long eared owl, Rwenzori turacos, Rwenzori batis, illadopsis, montane sooty boubou, archer’s robin chat, blue headed sunbird, lagden’s bush shrike, flycatchers, barbets, crimson wings, slender billed starling.
Places of Interest
In Rwenzori Mountains National Park, over 20 picturesque Lakes are all available for visitor exploration. Lake Mahoma is considerably the easiest to reach at 2651m, an area that is also endowed with bird species. Lake Bujuku is the other magical Lake that Rwenzori Mountains prides itself and this is found along the deep, glacier carved Bujuku Valleys at the Baker, Speke, Mt. Stanley shadow. The Nyamwamba valley which is accessible on the Kilembe trail has dams with glacial moraine and these have formed a string of 8 beautiful water Lakes. Besides Lakes, the block mountain range is also blessed with numerous streams and rivers that originate from summits of the mountain.
Located on the South-eastern foothills of Mount Rwenzori, Ruboni is another interesting place worth visiting on Rwenzori safari. The Ruboni trailhead is an ideal place to start trekking through the 7 day central circuit trailhead to the Rwenzori Mountain peaks. The area is also ideal for visitors to begin hiking tours, birding, community walks to Bakonzo local communities. Interestingly, visitors have where to stay after or before setting off to enjoy their nature walks, birding, hikes and in addition, enjoy great views of the Mubuku and peaks.
Bulemba is where visitors on Rwenzori treks find the remains of the 1st King of Rwenzururu. Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzaga was the first king of the Rwenzururu Kingdom and he played a role in saving the Bakonzo tribe from the oppression of the Batooro.
The Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains, dubbed the Mountains of the Moon also known as the Rwenzori range is a mountain range within the Eastern Equatorial Africa found on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border, support glaciers and are one of the sources of the Nile River. These are one of the most interesting attractions to explore during safaris in Uganda.
The highest point of the Rwenzori Mountains stands at 5109 meters (16,762 feet) above sea level and is permanently blanketed by snow. These magnificent Mountains lie within the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda as well as the Virunga National Park.
Rwenzori Mountain range was formed around 3 million years ago in the late Plioceneepoch as a result of uplifted block of crystalline, which separated the paleo-lake Obweruka thus creating three of the modern African Great Lakes that include Lake George, Lake Albert and Lake Edward. People in the past called the mountain range-the “Mountains of the Moon” hence was first used on the map by Alexandrian geographer known as Claudius Ptolemy. These mountains were believed to be the source of River Nile because the melting snows from the Mountains feed into some of the far tributaries of this mighty River.
The Rwenzori Mountain range is around 75 miles (120 kilometers) long and around 40 miles (65 kilometers) wide. This massif is made up of 6 mountains separated by deep valleys and they include Mount Stanley, the highest point with a height of 5109 meters/16,762 feet above sea level, Mount Gessi standing at 4715 meters (15,469 feet) above sea level, Mount Baker standing at 4843 meters/15,889 feet above sea level, Mount Speke standing at a height of 4890 meters (16,040 feet) above sea level, mount Luigi di Savoia at 4627 meters (15,180 feet) above sea level and Mount Emin standing at 4798 meters/15,741 feet above sea level. Mountain Stanley also has 9 summits with Margherita being the highest followed by Alexandria.
This mountain range is made up of 5 varying vegetation types/zones depending on the altitude. Notably this mountain range was named after Henry M. Stanley, a European explorer to mean the rain maker because this mountain is said to make rain. It is therefore not a surprise that for the 365 days in a year, it rains almost every day on the snow-capped mountains as well as the thick lush vegetation.
At the base of the Mountain between 914 and 1676 meters above sea level is the lowland montane forest and African savannah grasslands where you will find a number of animals such as the African elephants and Zebras
After that is the tropical rainforest from 1676 and 2286 meters above sea level, and is where you will find the giant ferns, lianas and wild banana plants.
This is followed by the Bamboo forest from 2286 to 2895 meters above sea level. Tress in this zone can grow up to 3 feet within a day and over 100 feet in just 2 months. The zone is therefore one of the most exceptional places to walk through easily.
After the Bamboo zone is the Heath zone from 2895 meters to 3657 meters above sea level and is covered by lichens and heather tress as well as mosses and liverwort that cover the ground. Trees here also grow up to 40 feet tall or even more.
As you proceed higher, you will find the Alpine Zone from 3657 to 4419 meters above sea level with mostly Giant lobelia and groundsel. The upper slopes of this vegetation zone had a rocky terrain and is dominated by brown mosses and black lichens.
The Upper zone approaching the Margherita Peak at 5109 meters above sea level is snow-capped and has storm-swept glaciers. Climbing to this point is one of the most challenging yet unforgettable achievements for any climber on Uganda safaris.