Hiking The Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda

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Rwenzori Mountains are mountain ranges in Uganda located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it’s also known as “ Mountains of the Moon”, described in AD 350 by Ptolemy, who proclaimed them to be the Source of the River Nile . With an elevation of 5,109 m, it is the highest mountain of both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, and the third highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

The mountain range is well known worldwide for its tremendous hiking experience, scenery, sunsets, permanent snow capes, views of the clouds from above and biological species biodiversity. It has over 70 mammals including 4 species of diurnal primates, 15 species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation have been identified at Mount Rwenzori and its surrounding.

As you take a hike to the Rwenzori, the history and Mythology of the area will fill your mind. This mountain range covers 996kmkm2 formed after a massive uplift in the earth’s crust. The range stretching some 120km north/ south and 48 km east / west with 6 snows capped mountains- Margherita peak as the highest. It is believed the formation was about three million years ago in the late Pliocene, as a result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks including: gneiss, amphibolites granite, and quartzite. This mountain has greatly attracted many people willing to come for mountain climbing safaris to Uganda.

The first sightings of Rwenzori was by the expedition of European explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1889 and William Grant Stairs who climbed to 3,254 meters (10,676 ft) though the first ascent to the summit was made by the Duke of the Abruzzi in 1906. There are 2 primary routes that can be taken to the summit – The Central Circuit Trail from the trailhead at Mihunga, the route ascends the Bujuku Valley via Nyabitaba for acclimatization before reaching the peaks- which is an easier climb and the one most frequently used and the Kilembe Trail that ascends the southern slopes of the Rwenzori from a trailhead at Kilembe near the town of Kasese.

The mountain was gazette in 1991 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it encompasses many ecological life zones including; savanna, rain forest, grasslands, giant ferns, bamboo, heath zone, the Alpine zone, above the tree groundsel and the giant Lobelia. The region’s waterfalls, lakes and the glaciers make it one of Africa’s most beautiful alpine areas. A popular tourist destination for mountain climbers- a real hiker’s heaven in Africa and photographers thanks to its otherworldly shape! Hikers get to admire the wonderful landscapes that add up to the explorations. The main peak of the mountain can be climbed easily by a person with basic mountaineering skills, although altitude and unpredictable weather make for a challenging and adventurous trip. It is perfect for people who wish to gain snow experience.

Also apart from usual known adventure Rwenzori climbing, there are a lot more to see in mount Rwenzori. The travelers can have wildlife nature walks conducted in the park, water falls to see like Ngitte, Rwajimba and Semuliki, birds, monkeys, hot springs, caves and Lakes- Rwenzori Mountains are worthy a place to visit as it is one of the few unspoilt Mountains of the world because of its rugged nature yet this wilderness character is an attraction for many climbers and Mountaineers.

What to wear to hike the Rwenzori; for a Rwenzori Mountains light day hike, you won’t have to procure any unique gear or frightening equipment. But a few minutes of preparation means you’ll go home with a smile on your face instead of blisters on your feet! You will have to wear layered outfits for the Rwenzori mountaineering experience; since it may seem chilly now, but once you begin hiking, you will warm up quickly. Hiking boots are great, but for a light hike a sneaker with a heavy tread will be just fine. Wear a hat; it will shade your face from the sun, protecting you from sunburn and making it easier to see. You are also advised to have water during the hike, you can put the water in a small backpack along with a couple of granola bars, a bagel or a bag of trail mix for a quick burst of energy. If it’s an all-day hike, pack a sandwich for lunch. Pack sun block; you don’t want sunburn as your souvenir!

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