Rwenzori Mountains National Park is geographically positioned in the Western part of Uganda, Eastern part of Western arm of African Rift Valley. The park is perched on the border area of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is located near the borders of the Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo which is also one of the designated UNESCO Heritage Sites, about 50kms away.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is also surrounded by three districts; Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo, approximately 25kms off from Kasese. The park is about 1000sq.kms in size and protects larger portion of the Rwenzori Mountains about half of its central and eastern portion. From Kampala, Rwenzori National Park is approximately 5-6 hours’ drive or 1 and half hours’ flight from Entebbe Airport (EBB)/Kajjansi airfield to Kasese airfield.
The Rwenzori Mountain ranges rises above the dry plains, North of the Equator crossing. This is a block mountain with ice/snow-cap on its Mount Stanley one of the 6 mountain massifs that make up the larger block of the Rwenzori Mountains. It is on Mount Stanley where the Margherita Peak sits 5109m, Africa’s 3rd highest peak and there are many other highest peaks worth exploring on your mountaineering including Mount Baker, Mount Speke, all found in the Rwenzori Mountains and Rwenzori National Park. In addition, there are over 20 scenic lakes, and several snowfields, glaciers, waterfalls etc.
Geographical features of Rwenzori mountains
Also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” Rwenzori mountains are a majestic mountain range located in East Africa, along the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The mountains stand as the highest summits in Uganda with a highest peak Margherita at 5,109 meters above the sea level and the third highest on the African continent after Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro of Tanzania. They are famous for their impressive peaks, glaciers, and unique geographical features located on some of the 6 mountain massifs.
With a total surface area of approximately 998 square kilometers, Rwenzori mountains encompass a number of geographical features are among them include the listed below;
The Rwenzori Mountains are home to several major peaks, with the highest being Mount Stanley, which has three distinct summits: Margherita Peak (5,109 meters or 16,763 feet), Alexandra Peak, and Albert Peak. Margherita Peak is the third-highest mountain in Africa, after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya and the highest in Uganda. Other peaks include Mount Speke (4890 m), Mount Baker (4,844 m), Mount Gessi (4,578 meters), Mount Luigi Di Savora (4,37 meters).
The peaks can be reached through different trails and the most known are the Central Circuit trail led and governed by the locals and then Kilembe trail which is privately owned.
Despite their equatorial location, the Rwenzori Mountains are characterized by a series of glaciers and snowfields. These glaciers are remnants of a much larger ice cap that covered the range thousands of years ago. However, due to climate change, these glaciers have been retreating in recent decades.
Rivers and Lakes
The Rwenzori Mountains are the source of several major rivers, including the White Nile (which eventually flows into the Nile River), the Semliki River, and the Mubuku River. Additionally, there are numerous alpine lakes scattered throughout the region, adding to the natural beauty of the landscape. Other rivers in the park include River Nyamwamba, and Ruimi.
Aside the rivers, the mountains feature several lakes including the Lake Bujuku, Lake Irene, Lake Kitandara, and others on the Congo side like Lac Noir, Lac Vert, Lac De La Lune and many others.
The mountain range is characterized by numerous glacial valleys carved out by past ice flows. These valleys are often deep and steep-sided, creating stunning landscapes and scenic hiking opportunities.
Due to the high rainfall in the region, the Rwenzori Mountains are home to numerous waterfalls, cascading down the slopes and adding to the scenic beauty of the area. Among these include; Kamalha falls, Cathy’s falls, Nyamwamba falls, Plozza falls and also Engwe falls. These features can be seen after the hike to different mountain altitudes.