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The Rwenzori Mountains, dubbed the Mountains of the Moon also known as the Rwenzori range is a mountain range within the Eastern Equatorial Africa found on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border, support glaciers and are one of the sources of the Nile River. These are one of the most interesting attractions to explore during safaris in Uganda.

The highest point of the Rwenzori Mountains stands at 5109 meters (16,762 feet) above sea level and is permanently blanketed by snow. These magnificent Mountains lie within the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda as well as the Virunga National Park.

The Rwenzori Mountains lie just north of the Equator along the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. The north-south extension amounts to about 120km and the east-west extension runs to about 50km. The range has 6 major peaks, Mt. Stanley (5,109m), Mt. Speke (4,890m), Mt. Baker (4,843m), Mt. Emin (4,798m) Mt. Gessi (4,715m) and Mt. Luigi di Savioa (4,627m).

The highest peak in the Mt. Stanley complex (Margherita 5,109m) makes the Rwenzori mountains the 3rd highest range in Africa.

But unlike the two highest mountains in Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya), the Rwenzori Mountains are not volcanic but predominantly old quartzite and gneiss pushed up by tremendous forces originating deep within the earth’s crust in the region of 3-4 billion years ago.

How were Rwenzori Mountains formed?

The Rwenzori Mountain chain formation dates back to about 3 millions years. The Rwenzori Mountain range was formed  in the late Plioceneepoch as a result of uplifted block of crystalline, which separated the paleo-lake Obweruka thus creating three of the modern African Great Lakes that include Lake George, Lake Albert and Lake Edward. People in the past called the mountain range-the “Mountains of the Moon” hence was first used on the map by Alexandrian geographer known as Claudius Ptolemy. These mountains were believed to be the source of River Nile because the melting snows from the Mountains feed into some of the far tributaries of this mighty River.

The chain block mountain was formed due to a shift in the earth’s crust 3 million years back. The shift in the earth’s crust resulted into an uplift of rock that comprised of quartzite, granite and gneiss.

During formation of Rwenzori Mountains, it is believed that the shift in tectonic plates pushed the mountain block upwards and tilted it creating the high peaks. The erosion and the deposition of sediment has also played a significant role for the formation of Rwenzori Mountains where the sediment has molded the chain for many years to create what is presently the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.

The Rwenzori Mountain range is around 75 miles (120 kilometers) long and around 40 miles (65 kilometers) wide. This massif is made up of 6 mountains separated by deep valleys and they include Mount Stanley, the highest point with a height of 5109 meters/16,762 feet above sea level, Mount Gessi standing at 4715 meters (15,469 feet) above sea level, Mount Baker standing at 4843 meters/15,889 feet above sea level, Mount Speke standing at a height of 4890 meters (16,040 feet) above sea level, mount Luigi di Savoia at 4627 meters (15,180 feet) above sea level and Mount Emin standing at 4798 meters/15,741 feet above sea level. Mountain Stanley also has 9 summits with Margherita being the highest followed by Alexandria.

The Rwenzori Mountain is a chain mountain of 6 massifs each is divided by just deep gorges. They include Mount Speke, Mt. Luigi di Savoia, Emin, Baker, Mount Stanley & Mt. Gessi. The beautiful block mountain houses magical glaciers and white, snow-capped peaks, one reason it is famously called the Mountains of the Moon. Rwenzori Mountains plays an important part as one of the main sources of water for the mighty River Nile.

In the 19th & early 20th century, it was documented that the formation of Rwenzori Mountain the first traverse of the block mountain was happened in 1975. This was conducted by Stanislaw Cholewa, Janusz Chalecki, Leszek Czarnecki and they were accompanied by Miroslaw Kuras during the last half of traverse.

Rwenzori Mountains formerly known as Ruwenzori is a block mountain found between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is 65kms wide, 120kms long and occupies the area of about 4800kms with its Mount Stanley being its highest point at 5109m.

Rwenzori Mountains make up part of the Albertine Rift-the Western part of the Great East African Rift. Rwenzori Mountains stand out when it comes to natural beauty. It features high peaks, deep gorges carved by glaciers, and its topography is amazingly distinct making it a worth visiting destination on Uganda safari. The Rwenzori Mountain chain is the only mountain range in Africa with glacial equatorial basement rock which formed by uplift.

The chain Rwenzori Mountain straddles within the stunning Rwenzori Mountains National Park one of the splendid Uganda safari parks and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The block mountain chain extends to cover parts of the D.R. Congo especially the Virunga National Park.