Fairend Safaris

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is located in southwestern Uganda along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is home to the Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park covers nearly 100,000 ha and is home to Africa’s third-highest peak Mount Margherita. The mountain comprises glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes and on its slope, there are unusual flora and fauna. Generally, the park inhabits endangered species, especially the plants, heather, and some wild species among others.

The Rwenzori mountains have two hiking experiences, the first is the low-altitude trek that won’t take you beyond 4,000 meters and usually lasts 2-4 days. The other is the high-altitude trek that takes you beyond 4,000 meters and usually lasts between 4 to 12 days. On the other hand travelers interested in hiking the Rwenzori mountains can combine it with other neighboring parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park which is great for game drives or Kibale National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

How to get there

To get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park, you typically need to travel to the nearby town of Kasese, which serves as a gateway to the park.  Kasese is accessible by both air and road. There are domestic flights that take about an hour from Entebbe Airport to Kasese. These flights are operated by local airlines such as Uganda Airlines and Eagle Air.

Alternatively, travelers may use road transport from Kampala or Entebbe via Fort Porta which takes about 6 to 8 hours. From Kasese town to the park headquarters, it is about 17 kilometers which are accessed by road means.

Activities to do in Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Trekking and mountain climbing

The main attraction of Rwenzori Mountains National Park is trekking and climbing the Rwenzori Mountains. There are several trekking routes available, ranging from shorter hikes to multi-day treks that lead to higher peaks. Climbing Margherita Peak, the highest peak in the Rwenzori Mountains is a popular challenge for experienced climbers. Travelers interested in climbing the Rwenzori Mountains can arrange 2 to 9 days for this amazing adventurous activity.  Besides, it is best done as a group though solo travelers can meet with other trekkers at the starting point.

Bird Watching

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to a rich diversity of bird species, about 217 recorded bird species are found in this area. Birders have a great opportunity to see a wide range of species including several Albertine Rift endemics. Birdwatchers can spot species such as the Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis, long-eared owl, beared vultures, robins, and Rwenzori Nightjar among others.

Nature walks

For those not interested in trekking to the highest peaks, the park offers shorter nature walks and hikes through the lower foothills. These walks provide opportunities to experience the flora and fauna of the Rwenzori Mountains at a more leisurely pace. During nature walks travelers can enjoy great views of Lake Muhooma and, Buraro chimp forest. Besides travelers can also walk through communities of have great views of Kichamhe, Ruboni, and Turaco where you are rewarded with a great view of the snow-capped Margherita peak.

Cultural encounters

The park is inhabited by the Bakonzo people, who have lived in the area for centuries. Most of their homesteads are found at the foothills of the Rwenzori mountain. Visitors can learn about the local culture and traditions through guided cultural encounters, village visits, and homestays with local communities. Travelers get to be entertained through traditional dances and songs, additionally, get to learn about their local cuisines as well as listen to their amazing stories about their history and way of living.

Wildlife Viewing

While trekking in the park, you may encounter various species of wildlife, including primates such as chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and blue monkeys. Rwenzori Mountain has unique vegetation at different altitudes where most animals can be seen at the lower altitudes. Other wild species travelers might encounter during the trek are forest hogs, forest elephants, leopards, chameleons, bush bucks, and many more.

Photography

Rwenzori Mountains National Park offers stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, making it an excellent destination for photographers to capture breathtaking shots of nature and wildlife.

When to visit the Rwenzori mountains National Park

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park can be visited at any time throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season which occurs from June to August and from December to February. During these months the temperatures are average during the day and the terrain is dry and easy to trek. The skies are clearer giving stunning views of the snow-capped mountain and it is easier to see the wild species which tend to gather near water sources.

Where to stay when visiting Rwenzori Mountains National Park

There are options for accommodation catering to different preferences and budgets of travelers going to Rwenzori Mountains National Park. These include:

Campsites and huts within the park itself are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). These include Nyakalengija Camp, Nyabitaba Hut, John Matte Hut, Bujuku Hut, Elena Hut, and Kitandara Hut. These accommodations are basic but provide shelter for trekkers. They are located at various locations along the climbing routes.

For those seeking more luxurious accommodations, there are lodges and hotels in nearby towns like Kasese and Fort Portal. These lodges offer comfortable rooms, delicious meals, and amenities like hot showers and WiFi. Some of these facilities are Geolodge Equator Snow Lodge, Hotel Margherita, Mariana Tourist Hotel, and Saad Hotel among others.

Ruboni Community Camp is a community-owned camp located near the park entrance in Ruboni village. It offers budget-friendly accommodation options such as camping and simple guesthouses. Staying here also supports the local community.

Lastly, there are campsites both within the park and in the surrounding areas where you can pitch your tent and enjoy the natural surroundings. This option is for travelers who are more adventurous and daring.