The Rwenzori Mountains features varying vegetation zones largely determined by altitudes. There are 5 distinct vegetation zones worth exploring on Rwenzori Mountain safaris. They include bamboo zone 2500 to 3500m, Montane 2000-3000m, grassland 1000-2000m, Afro-alpine moorland zone 4000-4500m, heather 3000-4000m. This block mountain also features strikingly beautiful plants at 3000m including the lobelia, giant tree heathers, groundsel and these are unique to the Rwenzori Mountain region.
VEGETATION ZONES- RWENZORI MOUNTAINS
Vegetation zones in the Rwenzori Mountain ranges: The Mountains of the Moon, the Rwenzori Mountains isn’t only most popular for its Margherita peak but also 6 distinct vegetation zones. Straddling in the Western side of Uganda, Mount Rwenzori has a composition of 6 rare vegetation zones 6 mountain ranges including Mount Luigi di Savoia 4627m, Mount Baker 4843m, Mt. Speke 4890m, Mt. Stanley 5109m, Mt. Gessi 4715m & Mt. Emin 4798m.
On a hike to Margherita, trekkers navigate through the 6 distinct vegetation zones. Each altitudinal range features its own vegetation zone;
1800-2500m-Afro Montane Rainforest
From 1800 to 2500m has mainly the Afro-Montane Rainforest. This means, Rwenzori Mountains National Park is one incredible destination offering a unique experience of an Afro montane rainforest experience. At 1800m elevation has significant species of trees such as vernonia adolfi-friderici, symphonia globulifera, yellow wood tree, read stink wood, podocarpus milanjianus. Other species of plants that exist in this area include begonia, balasms, begonia mayari-johannis.
2500-3000m features the typical bamboo zone and this is the gentle slopes of Rwenzori Mountain ranges. This altitudinal range has good soil, favoring growth of bamboo. As you hike upwards, the steep and rocky slopes the bamboo disappears and replaced by tangled undergrowth of an Acanthus-type shrub, mimulopsis ellioti, luxuriant lobelia. Most of these grow mainly around the wet or swampy region. The narrow ridges features the Erica kingaensis, giant heathers, philippia johnstonii.
The Heather vegetation zone of Rwenzori Mountain range ranges from altitudinal range 3000-4000m. This vegetation zone specifically grows in poor soils such as the ridge tops, boggy and rocky regions. Besides, the thick Sphagnum moss occupies most of the tussocks and the fine lobelia. This region also features plants such as coral pink ground orchid, Disa stairsii, pink flowers,
The drained zone of the Rwenzori Mountains features mixture of woodland with Rapanea rhododendroides dominating. This is a small shrubby kind of tree with rhododendron type of leaves. The Valley area along the Heather zone is also dominated by huge bogs.
4000-4500m, Alpine zone
4000-4500m, Alpine zone is dominated by swampy vegetation including the giant groundsel, thick tangled growth of helichrysum stuhlumani, lobelia, moss, short grass etc. 4300m has only moss, a few tiny plant species, blackish lichens etc. 4500-5000m features only bare rock & glacier. At this elevation range, you will be exploring stunning Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley.