The Rwenzori Mountains a home to Africa’s 3rd highest peak, is suitably lying on the Western border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Rwenzori ranges also most popular as the Mountains of the Moon rises up-to a height of about 5109m. Mount Rwenzori was named the Mountains of the Moon due to its strikingly stunning glaciers which shine just like little moons.
The Rwenzori Mountains take its name from the local word which is translated as ‘Rain Maker’, while its first peak “Margherita” takes its name from the Italian Queen. Margherita peak was named by an Italian Aristocrat- The Duke of Abruzzi. The Rwenzori Mountain ranges is without doubt Africa’s highest block mountain and it is notably one of the world’s best hiking destinations-according to the National Geographic.
HISTORY OF THE RWENZORI MOUNTAINS
For centuries there had been rumours of the existence of the snowy mountains that fed the Nile. About 1800 years ago, Ptolemy showed them on a map and called them the Lunae Montes, the Mountains of the Moon. But it was not earlier than 1891 that Dr. Franz Stuhlmann led a 5 day trip into the heart of the Rwenzori. He was the one who first described accurately the vegetation zones from the foothills to the snowline.
The Rwenzori Mountains lie just north of the Equator along the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. The north-south extension amounts to about 120km and the east-west extension runs to about 50km. The range has 6 major peaks, Mt. Stanley (5,109m), Mt. Speke (4,890m), Mt. Baker (4,843m), Mt. Emin (4,798m) Mt. Gessi (4,715m) and Mt. Luigi di Savioa (4,627m).
FLORA AND FAUNA
There are 5 different vegetation zones found in the Rwenzori mountains. These are grassland (1000-2000m), montane forest (2000-3000m), bamboo/mimulopsis zone (2500-3500m), Heather/Rapanea zone (3000-4000m) and the afro-alpine moorland zone (4000-4500m). At higher altitudes, some plants reach an unusually large size, such as lobelia and groundsels.
THE BAKONZO PEOPLE
The people who inhabit the villages and farms immediately along the Uganda Rwenzori site are of the Bakonzo tribe. They are slender and of medium height but are amazingly strong in the mountains, capable of covering long distances in a very short time. In Uganda, the Bakonzo are a minor ethnic group of around 1000000 people (2002 census), in the DRC, they are slightly more numerous. For the Bakonzo, education is very important and they have a great spirit of conserving the environment.