Rwenzori mountains national park- mountaineering to Margherita peak
Rwenzori mountains national park was gazetted in 1991. It is famous for the mountains that are higher than the Alps and have ice on top. The park was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It was further recognized as a Ramsar site in 2008.
The equatorial snow peak of Margherita, on Mount Stanley is Africa’s third highest peak with a height of 5,109 m. Magherita peak is bisected by the border with DR Congo. It is a block of rock up 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” a local name meaning “Rainmaker” or “Cloud king”.
Rwenzori mountains national park comprises of six distinct mountains that is mount Stanley(5109m), Mount Speke(4890m), mount Baker(4843m), Mount Emin(4798m), Mount Gessi(4715m) and Mount Luigui di savoia(4627m). The lower slopes are covered in moorland, bamboo and rich moist montane forest. Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses cover the mountainsides with giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers” creating a fairy tale kind of scene.
The Rwenzori Mountains are a world class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine to twelve days hike will get good climbers to Magherita peak. However, if you prefer something not so tiring, the Bakonzo villages on the slopes of the mountains offer nature walks and community visits.
Biodiversity: The Park is known for its diversity and beautiful wildlife. There are five unique vegetation zones in the park. These zones alternate according to the varying altitudes. There are 89 birds notably the colorful Ruwenzori Turaco, slender billed starling, blue headed sunbird, golden-winged sunbird, 15 butterfly species have been recorded. There are four primates including the chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black-and-white colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys. Other animals found here include the forest elephants, hyrax and duiker. There are unusual reptiles such as the three horned chameleon.
Size: 996 sq.km
Location: Western Uganda on the border with the Democratic republic of Congo
Accessibility: Entebbe-Kampala-Fort Portal-Kasese 380 km
Tourism activities: Mountaineering, nature walks, bird watching, community tours.
Hotels and Lodges around Rwenzori national park: Equator snow Lodge (high budget), Margherita hotel (medium budget)