The park derives its name from the Rwenzori Mountains, and it is a snow-capped mountain deep in Africa and sometimes it’s called “mountains of the moon’’ named by the Alexandrine Geographer in AD 150. The first European to see these legendary mountains were Arthur Jepson and Thomas Parke, members of Stanley’s scross-continental 1888-89 expedition to rescue the Emin Pasha.
This 996kms protects the upper slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains, which run for almost 120kms along the Congolese border west of Kasese and Fort portal. The park is located near Kasese in the western part of Uganda and can be reached in just about 5-6 hours’ drive from Kampala Uganda’s capital up to the park. It borders Virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo in the west. The park can also be reached by air; arrangement can be made from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi airstrip to Kasese from which a transfer to the park headquarters in Nyakalenjija village along the Mubuku valley can be made.
The alpine highland of glaciers, snowfields, hot springs, and blue cirque lakes make Rwenzori one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain peaks. Rwenzori is the highest mountain range in Africa. its highest peaks Margherita (5,109m) and Alexandra (5,083) on mount Stanley are exceeded in altitude elsewhere in Africa only by Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya both of which are extinct volcanoes standing in isolation above the surrounding plains. It’s Africa’s third tallest peak with many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers, and it’s also known for its beautiful plant life.
The Rwenzori mountain is unique among East Africa’s major peaks in that they are not volcanic in origin, but they do rise directly from the rift Valley floor and their creation was connected to the biological turmoil that formed the Rift. The Rwenzori mountain is primarily known for its challenging hikes and there are 8 major peaks ready for hiking these include Margherita Mt.Stanley (5,109m), Albert peaks (5.101 m), Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi da Savoia (4,627m).
The Rwenzori mountains national park although majorly known for its Hiking and climbing, on the lower slopes it’s home to several species of animals over 70 mammals are recorded at the park with over 177 species of birds several of which are Albertine Rift endemics. Some of the mammal species known at the park include golden cat, genet, giant forest hog and bushbuck, forest elephants, hyrax, leopard, yellow-backed duiker among others although sometimes very difficult to spot. The mammals you are likely to see are the colobus and the blue monkeys, other primates include the Angola colobus, chimpanzee, the black and white colobus, L’Hoest monkey. Bird species include the Rwenzori turaco, barred long-tailed cuckoo, long-eared owl, handsome francolin strange weaver, blue-headed sunbird, among very many.
The mountain has a good network of the trail with huts on it, only those who are physically fit and well-experienced climbers are entitled to do the hikes. Hiking takes 8-10 days, however its possible to do shorter hikes through the forested foothills into the moorland zone and also to bypass from the main routes to scale the lesser peaks.
Local guides and porters are sourced from the adjacent areas to provide services for trekkers and they are experienced and passionate in the field. These are mostly the Bakonjoa group of Bantu-speaking agriculturists who inhabit the Rwenzori foot slopes and they are known for their solid build and hardy nature. There are two main trekking routes available for hikers the Bujuku and Mubukuvalleys from Nyakalengija, to the central circuit that winds between the main peaks. The other route, long closed to hikers and now being reopened, the run-up to the Nyamwamba Valley above Kilembe near Kasese. The Kirembe trail which is on the south Rwenzori, offers a variety of mountain treks and climbs using a combination of trails along the Nyamugasani, kamusoni, and Nyamwamba river valleys.
The central circuit, this route ascends from Nyakalengija trailhead, its run by Rwenzori Mountaineering services; the trail takes you to the top of Mount Stanley.
Lake Mahoma trail. It is known as a newly developed route that opened in late 2012 as a shorter alternative to the full central circuit. The route climbs from the Nyakalengija trailhead to Lake Mahoma, a glacial lake above Nyabitaba hut.
Therefore, Rwenzori trekking adventure depends on the traveler’s physical fitness and experience, So Special equipment is required for those interesting in climbing and you are advised to bring your own mountain climbing gears for mountain expedition to Rwenzoris such as ropes, ice-axes, harnesses, crampons, and walking sticks, or hire gear from your mountain operator (they from US$25-30 for each of these items). If you are to hire make sure that you make them aware of your requirement and allow plenty of time so they can be sized, fitted, and paid for. Cold and wet conditions are normal on the mountain, and it is essential that you are properly prepared. Climbing is so rewording during the dry seasons which runs from late December to early March and from late June to early September, although African weather is subjected to change, it can rain at any time of the year, which can make the path muddy after rain.
The park was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and is both a world heritage and RAMSAR site.