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Rwenzori Mountain Hike

Rwenzori Central Circuit vs Kilembe Trail: Best Routes

Rwenzori Central Circuit vs Kilembe Trail: Best Routes

Rwenzori Mountain Hike

In this article, the writer tries to point out the different points where the trekker is expected to spend his stop overs while on a Ruwenzori Mountaineering tours by Comparing the Kilembe Trail and the Ruwenzori Central Circuit for ultimate experience of Trekking in Ruwenzori Mountains National Park.

There are only two popular routes that travelers have to select from in order to summit to the various peaks of Rwenzori Mountains.

KILEMBE TRAIL

Summiting to Rwenzori Mountain Peaks via Kilembe trail in the Rwenzori Mountains national park. Kilembe trail is one trails that offers most interesting & Unique Vegetation cover on the Rwenzori Mountains and possibly in the whole of Africa. This trail was introduced in June 2009 and it connects Kilembe the base point to various peaks in the Rwenzori Mountains.

The trek is a challenge to be enjoyed by nature lovers and mountaineers will enjoy fantastic views, stunning valleys, and a wide variety of plants and trees and unlike Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya which are stand-alone mountains and which are relatively short and direct in climbing.

The Rwenzori is, in fact, the highest mountain range in Africa, and as such there are many ups and downs in climbing to the peaks. Even when coming down from the main peaks you have to do a lot of climbing.

The Rwenzori Mountains receive about three (3) meters of rain per year resulting in lush and varied plant life and many wet areas and bogs. The heavy rainfall also results in many species of plants and birds and small animals which is a huge plus as the environment is spectacular.

 

Trek from Kilembe to Kalalama camp

On the first day of your Kilembe trail route hike, you will start the trek from the rangers post, head straight to Rwenzori National park’s gate for clearance before entering.

This marks the beginning of the Rwenzori trekking to Margherita peak. Proceed with your day trek to the montane forest where you will encounter various species of monkeys such as Colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, and other species of birds like the Rwenzori Turaco.

Reach Sine camp where you will enjoy your lunch break alongside other refreshments. Continue with your trek to Kalalama at 3,147 m, from which you will have your dinner, next day briefing and an overnight stay.

Trek from Kalalama hut to Mutinda camp

Wake up and have breakfast then set off for your second day trek to Mutinda camp from Kalalama camp. Start your hike passing through the bamboo-mimulopsis zone, which consists of a steep climb with many high steps, and later reach the resting point for a lunch break alongside other refreshments.

Continue with your day’s trek along the heather zone, passing by various streams, as well as waterfalls, which are mostly covered by typical green moss vegetation. You will also be rewarded with impressive views of Giant Heather trees, and sometimes in a misty atmosphere. Arrive at Mutinda Camp at 3.688 m-named after the Mutinda Peaks.

It is from this point that you can also climb further to the Mutinda Lookout at 3.925m, which is about a 90 minutes ascent and 30-minute descent to the camp.

This region is worth visiting, as its beautiful views as you stand on moss covered rocks with incredible views across the Rwenzori Mountains, stretching down to Kasese town and Lake George. Arrive at Mutinda camp in the late evening for dinner, next day briefing and an overnight stay.

 

Trek from Mutinda Camp to Bugata Camp

This day, you will start with hiking up the boggy terrain after your morning breakfast at Mutinda Camp. Proceed with the typical wet vegetation and tussocks, as you enter the alpine vegetation zone with the presence of the giant lobelias (Lobellia gibberoa), the groundsel (Senecio adnivalis) as well as the everlasting flowers while crossing the Mutinda valley. Hike up the steep section up to Namusangi valley, as you head to Bugata Camp at 4.062m above sea level.

It is from this point that you will enjoy the stunning views of Weisman’s Peak of Mount Luigi of Savoy, which is always covered by the snow whereas the vegetation is mostly covered by tussock grass, everlasting flowers, giant groundsel and giant lobelia.

Bugata camp, amongst other camps is well furnished with good facilities of solar lights, eco-toilets and bathroom.

 

Trek from Bugata to Hun Wick’s Camp

Continuing with your trek, climb up the Bamwanjara pass, which steadily rises with various long flat bogs. During your climb, you will observe the glacial lakes far down in the valley. Upon reaching the top of Bamwanjara Pass at 4.450m, you will be rewarded with remarkable views of all the main snowcapped peaks and you later come to rest in a small shelter within the breathtaking scenery.

Better yet this trek takes you down to the lower and upper Kachope Lake which is steep and always muddy but provides exclusive views of Kachope Lakes and McConnell’s Prong. Later arrive at Hun wick’s Camp (3,974m), which is established on a ridge overlooking snowcapped Mt Baker. Dinner and overnight stay at this camp

Climb from Hun Wick to Margherita Peak

After morning breakfast, start your day with walking along the ridge, crossing several wet areas and small rivers flowing from both Mount Baker and the fresh fields pass. Trekking up Scott Elliott Pass is amazing as you walk through and rising up the ridge of Mt Stanley to Margherita Camp at 4,485 meters which is below Elena Hut.

The Margherita camp which is sheltered with a ring of rocks was once used by an Italian Prince Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, and Duke of the Abruzzi. It is from here that you will observe breathtaking views of Mt Baker, Scott Elliot Pass and some of the high glaciers on Mt Stanley. Since you will walk to Margherita camp for 4.2km, you are expected to arrive late in the evening.

Margherita camp trek to the peak and return to the Margherita camp

You will wake up for your early morning breakfast, after which you will set off for the longest and strenuous trek to the Margherita summit. The early movement to Margherita peak of Mount Stanley is mainly aimed at reaching the glaciers before sunrise since the heat from the sun causes the glaciers to melt, thus making the routes to be totally impassable.

Hiking through the steep heights to Margherita peak requires enough physical strength. Proceed with your hike over the glaciers close, after then you will climb to an exposed section of the rock, which is bolted and roped, to get on the ridge running up to the top of the Margherita peak at 5.109m

Upon reaching the peak, you will be endowed by the beautiful scenery of the whole country, as you are now at the highest point of the country. Lunch will be served at the peak, after which you will descend to Hun wick’s camp for dinner and an overnight stay.

Descend from Margherita Camp to Kiharo Camp

You will start your day by climbing up a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong, where you will be rewarded with impressive views of the three peaks of Mount Stanley, Mount Baker and Speke as well as the Scott Eliot pass before reaching Oliver’s pass at 4,505m.

The total distance between Hun wick’s Camp and Oliver’s pass is 3km. The trail then cuts across below Wiseman’s peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down through Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elizabeth national park.

The confluence then meanders down the valley to Kiharo camp, which is established in a deep valley with high cliffs and dense vegetation. Dinner and overnight stay at the camp.

From Kiharo Camp to the base

From Kiharo camp, the path turns off to the right pass along the river. Spot Duikers as you pass along the river otherwise trek down the river itself jumping across the rocks as you pass down.

The trails becomes steep with multitudes of waterfalls after a few kilometers down the river, which is why you will have to move away from the river and follow a narrow ridge to bypass steep sections.

You will again meet the river where there is a huge rock shelter and a place to rest for a lunch break, after which, you will cross a small stream as you climb up gentle slopes before turning back down to the river to avoid another set of waterfalls which are impassable. The forest along this section is a home to many bird species, primates, duikers and hyrax.  Descend to the base marking the end of the Kilembe trail Rwenzori Mountains trekking.

When you decide to trek via Kilembe Trail, a hiker is advised to book a 10 Days Rwenzori Trekking tour which we do offer at discounted price, check out from the team to guide you.

RWENZORI CENTRAL CIRCUIT

Rwenzori Central Circuit Route is the only traditional route that approaches the Rwenzori Mountains from the East. Following this route leads you to Mount Baker, Mount Stanley, Mount Speke and sometimes the Weismann peak.

The Central Circuit Route Trail starts from the trailhead at Mihunga, past Nyabitaba, heading up the Bujuku valley, then to the peaks. After which you will pass over the Scott Elliot Pass to the stunning Kitandara Lakes then over Fresh field Pass into the Mubuku Valley.

There are various huts along this section that are used as accommodations for the trekkers, most of which are quite nice. The trails are very rough and contain deep mud in many places but are quite well maintained given the weather and conditions.

For often times, boardwalks have been put in place over some of the deeper bogs, although majority is now in critical state. Trips through the Rwenzori central circuit takes about 4-5 days to reach Margheritah Peak, thus a 7 Days/6 nights Rwenzori trekking tour to complete the circuit, that is

Trek from Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba (2651m)

On this first day of hike on Mount Rwenzori, you will head to Rwenzori Mountaineering services headquarters at Ibanda to make payments, meet your Rwenzori trekkers/hiker guides, porters, after which you proceed with a warm up trek to the Mount Rwenzori National Park’s main gate for park registration before entering the park.

The trek leads you through the Bakonjo settlements and plantations. Your central circuit trail hike starts from the main gate, right after registration to Nyabitaba hut at 2652m, which may take approximately 6-7 hours.

Hike from Nyabitaba to John Matte (3505m)

After breakfast at the Nyabitaba hut, follow the trail from to John Matte. Cross over Kurt Schuffer, lying between Bujuku and Mubuku River, after which you will continue trekking over slippery moss covered and steep rocks a alongside bamboo mixed with montane forest.

The forest contains various bird species that you may spot as you trek through the forest, continuing up to Nyamileju rock shelter, where you will have your lunch break.

Enjoy remarkable views of mount Stanley and Speke (only on a clear day). Proceed to john Matte hut through the alpine forest, arriving at the hut in the afternoon for dinner, next day’s briefing and an overnight stay.

Trek from John Matte hut to Bujuku Hut (3962)

After an early morning breakfast, you will cross the Bujuku River to the bigo bog region. Follow the steep path to the upper bigo bog, after which you will reach the drier ground up to Lake Bujuku.

Enjoy the beautiful views of Mount Stanley to the west, Mount Baker to the south and Speke to the North. Arrive at Bujuku camp at 3962m, after 4-5 hour walk. Dinner, next day briefing and an overnight stay.

Trek from Bujuku camp to Elena Hut (4541 m)

On this day, you will trek for about 6-7 hours from Bujuku hut to Elena hut. Since the hut is situated within the cold, rocky region of mount Stanley, you will pass via the upper bigo bog, and then through the steep slopes of Lake Bujuku to the West as you ascend to the 4372m Scott-Elliot pass.

Proceed through several swamps as well as the beautiful ground gully. Walk through the steep sections above the gully by using a metal ladder reaching a junction with two divided trails, whereby the right trail heads to the Elena Hut, rising through a steep trail above the large boulders to Mount Stanley.

Otherwise the left trail heads to the Scott-Elliot pass as you descend to Kitandara hut. Arrive at Elena hut in the afternoon, and enjoy the breath views of Mount Baker and Mount Speke, which is sometimes hard to see due to fog. Dinner and an overnight at the hut.

Trek from Elena Hut to Margheritah Peak then to Kitandara Hut (4023 m)

You will wake up at 2:00am, enjoy your breakfast, and embark on your hike to the top of Margheritah peak starting from 3:00am. Hike through the Stanley plateau to the top of Mount Stanley. While using ropes, you will hike through the steep rocky regions, as well as crampons and the ice ax on the glacial axe- as directed by the guide.

This may last for a couple of hours, after which you will arrive at the bottom of Margheritah glacier-the most challenging part of the 9 days Mount Rwenzori central circuit trekking experience. Proceed to the top of the peak of Mount Stanley (Margheritah Peak) at 5107m.

While at the peak, enjoy the impressive views of Lake Ireen, Mount Speke and the surrounding environment, after then descend Elena hut for lunch and later continue with your trek to Kitandara, through the Scott Elliot pass (also considered as the most beautiful spot of Rwenzori). Dinner and an overnight at Kitandara hut.

However, depending on your group’s strength, you may opt to spend another night at Elena Hut, and continue the next day to Kitandara then to Guy Yeoman.

Trek from Kitandara to Fresh field pass to Guy Yeoman (3505m)

After an early morning breakfast, spend your entire 6-8 hours’ trekking along the base of Mount Baker which is quite slippery. Ascend steeply up the headwall that spreads from the base of Mount Baker, as you proceed towards the southern side of Mountain Rwenzori to the Fresh field pass.

Continue with the long stretch of the muddy trail, trekking through the Kabamba, Akhendahi and rock shelters of Bujongolo-the base camp for the historic expeditions by Duke of Abruzzi in 1906.

Proceed with your trek along the Kabamba trail and later arrive at Guy Yeoman, which is established at the banks of river Mubuku. Dinner and overnight at the hut.

Descent trek from Guy Yeoman to Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija

On this last day of your 7 days Mount Rwenzori trekking through the central circuit trail, you will descend to Nyabitaba hut, after your early morning breakfast passing through the Bamboo forest.

You enjoy great sightings of beautiful flowers and plants, bamboo forests and Kinchuchu and Mubuku Rivers, not forgetting the Kabamba falls. Arrive at Nyabitaba hut after a 4 hours’ trek, after which you will briefly spend 40 minutes visiting Lake Mahoma.

Return to the hut after Lake Mahoma exploration and embark on your trek to Nyakalengija where you will meet your guide to transfer you back to your hotel.

Conclusion

The Rwenzori Mountains are accessible via two trekking circuits: the Central Circuit, which begins at Nyakalengija and the Southern Circuit also known as the Kilembe Trail. The best way to experience the Rwenzori is to choose between these two circuits.

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