Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains national park was gazetted in 1991. The park is famous for the mountains that are higher than the Alps. The Rwenzoris have ice on top.
UNESCO further declared the park a World Heritage Site in 1994. It was again recognized as a Ramsar site in 2008.
The peaks in the Rwenzori mountains national park
The equatorial snow peak of Margherita is on Mount Stanley. This is Africa’s third highest peak with a height of 5,109 m. The Magherita peak is partly in the DR Congo.
Important to note is that the mountains are a block of rock. These faulted through the floor of the western rift valley. Africa’s fourth and fifth highest peaks (Mount Speke and Mount Baker) too are within the Rwenzori national park.
The Rwenzoris were christened the “Mountains of the moon” by the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy in AD150.
Much later on 24th May 1888, the explorer Henry Stanley ‘placed’ the Rwenzori on the moon. He labeled it “Ruwenzori” This is a local name that means “Rainmaker” or “Cloud king”.
Rwenzori mountains national park comprises of six distinct mountains. Namely mount Stanley(5109m), Mount Speke(4890m), mount Baker(4843m), Mount Emin(4798m), Mount Gessi(4715m) and Mount Luigui di savoia(4627m).
The Vegetation and lower slopes
The lower slopes have mainly moorland and bamboo. Moreover with rich moist montane forest. Besides, huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses cover the mountainsides. Admittedly, the giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers” create a fairy tale kind of a scene.
Hiking the Mountains of the moon
The Rwenzori Mountains are a world class hiking. This is no doubt a mountaineering destination. About nine to twelve days hike will get good climbers to the Magherita peak. However, if you prefer something less tiring, have no worries. The Bakonzo villages on the slopes of the mountains are clearly the alternative. These offer nature walks and no doubt the community visits.
The Park is known for its diversity and similarly beautiful wildlife. Uniquely, five vegetation zones inhabit the park. These zones alternate according to the varying altitudes. There are 89 bird species. For example the colorful Ruwenzori Turaco, slender billed starling, blue headed sunbird and golden-winged sunbird. The national park boasts of 15 butterfly species in particular.
There are four primates such as the chimpanzees and blue monkeys. In addition are the black and white colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys.
Other animals here include the forest elephants, hyrax and duiker. Furthermore, there are rare reptiles such as the three horned chameleon.
The size of Rwenzori Park: 996 sq.km
The park is in western Uganda and on the border with the D.R of Congo.
The park is 380 kms west of Kampala.
The best route is from Entebbe to Kampala through Fort Portal then Kasese. It is about 380 km and takes 7 hours to drive.
Tourism activities in and around the park
Mountaineering is notably the main activity. However, nature walks, bird watching and community tours are also available..
Hotels and lodges around Rwenzori national park
The Equator snow Lodge is rather high budget. While the Margherita hotel is within medium budget. Nonetheless, there are other low budget hotels in and around Kasese town.
In conclusion, the park can be visited throughout the year.