Rwenzori national park is located in the western part of Uganda on the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park covers an area of 998 sq km. It was named after the famous Rwenzori Mountains also referred to as the legendary “Mountains of the Moon” described by Ptolemy in AD150.
The park is situated within “mountains of the moon” – lie in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border. Mountain Rwenzori is an equatorial snow peaks includes the third highest point in Africa, while the lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest.
Mountain Rwenzori is situated in Western Uganda in the East African Rift Valley and straddles also to the Democratic Republic of Congo and its conservation area known as Virunga National Park.
The world heritage site covers almost 1000 sqkm and strides across the districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibudyo. Margherita Peak stands higher among all other peaks on Mountain Rwenzori. Champion hikers aim at reaching the highest peak which is a tag of war! Margherita peak is the 3rd highest peak in Africa together with its twin peak, Mount Stanley, which is within the park. The 4th and 5th highest peaks, Mount Speke and Mount Baker, are also within the park.
The Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine- to twelve-day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.
For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.
Fauna and Flora
Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers”, creating an enchanting, fairytale scene. The Rwenzori Mountains hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.
Getting to Rwenzori Mountains
If your Uganda safari holiday is planned to spent in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park then the best alternatives to get there is by road or by air. By road, the park is accessible using public means or private car rental setting from Kampala via Mityana, Mubende to Fort Portal or Kampala through Masaka, Mbarara-Kasese and this may cover from 5-6 hours’ drive.
Rwenzori National Park, a home to one of the highest African peaks “Margherita” sits in the Western part of Uganda. The Rwenzori Mountains straddles along the East African Rift Valley but it is not a volcanic mountain range. The bordering districts are Kabarole, Bundibugyo and Kasese. Rwenzori Mountain is the prime attraction of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Other areas bordering the Rwenzori Mountains include Lake George in the South and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP).
70 mammal species and other significant species in Rwenzori Mountains National Park all range within the 6 distinct vegetation zones. When trekking to conquer the Margherita peak, climbers navigate through a series of these unique vegetation zones that include the montane forest, tree heathers, bamboo, afro-alpine etc. The Park hosts one of the rarest botanical species, the groundsel and lobelia. These distinct vegetation zones exist in different altitudes.
The Rwenzori Mountains makes up part of the Albertine rift that is the western rift valley arm of East Africa rift. It boasts of high peaks, beautiful gorges carved by glaciers making its topography unique. Mt. Rwenzori is the only Africa’s mountain range that represents glacial equatorial basement rock which formed due to earth’s uplift.
The Rwenzori Mountain ranges covers the Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains N. Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park which takes 20% of this range. The best hikes in the Rwenzori Mountain ranges include the Central Circuit, Forest, and Margherita.
Formation of the Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountain ranges formed due to a shift in the Earth’s crust about 3 million years back. The shift resulted into an uplift of the rock comprising of quartzite, gneiss and granite. The shift in the tectonic plate is believed to have pushed the mountain block upwards and tilted it to make high peaks. Due to erosion and deposition of sediment for over years, it resulted into moulding of the range which today is referred to the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.
The Rwenzori Mountain range has a composition of 6 massifs each of them is separated by deep gorges. While on the Rwenzori Mountaineering experience, the 6 peaks/mountain massifs to trek through include Mount Baker/Kiyanja, the 3rd highest of the 6 Rwenzori Mountain massifs. Mt. Baker sits on altitude of 4843m and feature multiple subsidiary peaks like Edward peak. Mt. Baker’s ridge was first hiked by Rubert Grauer in 1906.