ACTIVITIES IN RWENZORI NATIONAL PARK.
Lying on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rwenzori Mountains are a little-explored range, 120km long and home to six massifs. Also known as the Mountains of the Moon, they are certainly otherworldly.
The highest peaks are permanently covered in snow, sheltering glaciers and home to one of the sources of the Nile, while the flora is diverse and, often, larger than life. The lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and moist montane forests. The misty, boggy, glacier-carved valleys of the high Rwenzori are a botanically bonkers wonderland, where huge tree heathers and luridly coloured mosses cover the mountainsides, trees are draped with curtains of lichen and weird, triffid-like giant lobelias tower 6m skywards. Small group trekking expeditions will lead you to the top of Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley.
At 5,109m, it’s the highest peak on the range and makes Mount Stanley the third highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro and Kenya. But even if you don’t hike in the Rwenzori range, you’ll see it – cloud permitting. The little town of Fort Portal, which is the jumping-off point for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest, nestles in the shadow of these mountains, while the road from Kibale to Queen Elizabeth National Park runs along the eastern length of the range. If the clouds part, you can see their glaciated peaks. The range looms large in the distance behind Queen Elizabeth National Park, a fittingly dramatic backdrop for the tree-climbing lions, elephants and thousands of hippos living here.
The activities in the Rwenzori National park are the different ventures that travellers can engage in when they book their Rwenzori Safaris. These include nature walks, cultural encounters, hiking, volcano climbing, and birding among others.
This is one of the best activities in the Rwenzori National park since the park hosts the 3rd highest peak in the African continent called margarita where you can be challenged by a 7-day climb to the top of Rwenzori. Travellers who enjoy climbing, this is the right destination for you, where you can be told to choose the best trail in order to experience scenic routes to the top of the Rwenzori. Each trail you take provides remarkable and rewardable viewing of the glacial lakes, gorgeous viewpoints, dramatic mountain passes and lush valleys… The most common trails are as below;
The central circuits Trail is the most interesting trail to trek the peak but it’s a bit challenging being the most interesting, it provides a splendid circular tour of the high Rwenzori. From the trailhead at the Mihunga, the route ascends to Bujuku valley through Nyabitaba before reaching the peaks, you can continue to descend through the Mubuku valley. Climbers are usually able to scale the snow peak though it requires body fitness but is considered as the exceptional scenery that rewards their adventure tour.
The second route is the Kilembe Trails, using this route, the mountaineers will ascend to the slopes of the Rwenzori from the Kilembe which is near Kasese town, then this hike leads you the long route of Nyamwamb valley going through the glacial lakes and marvellous viewpoints before joining the central circuit at Lake Kitandara. The normal and standard route scales Mt. Baker however the scenery makes shorter treks rewarding enough.
The mountain climbing activity and booking can be done through the Rwenzori mountaineering services and Rwenzori Trekking services or else from a trusted tour operator.
The Rwenzori Mountains lie within the protection of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda (as well as Virunga National Park in eastern DRC). Its home to an amazing 217 bird species, including 17 species endemic to the park. Most of the birds are found flitting through the montane forest zone at around 1,800m; few choose to make their home in the tough environment of the high Rwenzori. Look out for the Rwenzori turaco – a jewel-coloured beauty with red wings – the beautiful cinnamon-chested bee-eater and various sunbirds, robins and barbets.
Wildlife Viewing in Rwenzori Mountain –
The Mountain is notable for the 3 horned chameleons, not only the chameleon which can be viewed on your safari but expects to see a variety of birds and animals such as elephants, leopards, bush bucks, giant forest hogs, and many more. There are also various primate species in the Rwenzori mountains like blue monkeys, olive baboons, black and white Columbus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees and many more. The park offers a splendid view of an attractive landscape with a high density of trees and other unique vegetation, you can as well enjoy favourable sunshine and cold and heavy rainfall that supports plant life which cannot be seen elsewhere on earth.
Aside from the high alpine views, it is the flora of the mountains that has a far greater impact on the visitor than the local fauna. Water is everywhere – cloud-bound, heavy in the mist, filling mountain streams and making mirrors of lakes.
Temperature below 4,000 metres rarely exceeds 15 degrees Celsius and stays above freezing. This means that life thrives and the plants are dramatic. The lobelia is massive; heather stretches across the valleys; while garishly-coloured moss creeps across gnarled trees draped with lichen. A trek will take you through different altitudinal zones of vegetation, each with its own micro-climate, flora and fauna. The Afro-montane forest covers the slopes between 1,800m and 2,500m and has the most variety. Large established trees push to establish a canopy, whose breaks are filled by dense thickets.
From 2,500m to 3,000m dense forest gives way to bamboo stands, leaves covering the ground in a dense litter and flowers emerging only once every 30 years. Above this, until 4,000m, you enter the heather zone. Sphagnum moss and usnea beard lichens pervade and the ground is stabbed with coral-pink orchids. Bog-wet valley bottoms are populated by large tussocks. Above 4,000m the alpine zone hosts giant groundsel, Senecio adnivalis and the torch lobelia, Lobelia wollastonii. After 4,300m the vegetation begins to thin out until nothing grows except moss, lichen and a few ‘Everlasting’ plants. The plants found above 3,800m are members of some of the world’s rarest botanical communities.
Fauna in the Rwenzori Mountains
These vegetation zones are home to 70 species of mammal and 177 bird species. Of the mammals, there are elephants, chimpanzees, Rwenzori otters and leopards. Although present, the dense forest means these are seldom seen. Primates such as colobus (Angola and black-and-white varieties are both thought to be present) and blue monkeys are easier to spot, as are small antelope such as bushbucks and unusual reptiles such as the three-horned chameleon.
Of the bird species present, several are Albertine Rift endemics which makes the Rwenzoris an Important Birding Area (IBA). The greatest diversity is found in the montane forest where you may see the Rwenzori Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Archers’ Robin-chat, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis, Montane Sooty Boubou, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Slender-billed Starling, Blue-headed Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Strange Weaver and several varieties of Barbets, Greenbuls, Apalises, IIladopsis, Flycatchers and Crimsonwings.
And don’t forget the superstars: up high hunt the lammergeiers and black eagles.
L Hoest Monkey trekking
While you won’t find gorillas in the Rwenzori Mountains (though you might see the rare L’Hoest’s monkey), few people come to Uganda without trekking to see its mountain gorillas. Tracking them in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the unique highlights of an Uganda holiday. Organized small group tours that include a full trek to the summit of Mount Stanley typically include L Hoest Monkey tracking experience, too. Spending an hour with these beautiful monkeys, in their native mountain forest is an unforgettable experience, and you’ll also get a warm-up for further trekking in the Rwenzori range, since tracking the L Hoest Monkey can lead you up and down steep, according to the studies made in 2003, they came to be related to the vervet monkeys which is in chlorocebus as genus and patas monkey that belongs to Erythrocebus genus. slippery paths.
These monkeys are not common in Uganda and are normally found in few parks especially in western Uganda bordering the forest of the Democratic Republic of Cong0.they have grey light grey peel cheeks, they have a prominent bib and characteristic with a short dark brown coat. L Hoest Monkey leaves in small groups and each group has one male and the group is dominated by the female. The male monkey is not normally found because it stays with a group for a few days in a month or a year.
These types of monkeys are more active during the morning time and the male monkey is the one that makes a distinct voice for a call of others in the morning. their habitat are trees where they sleep holding the branches of the tree or holding each other. They feed on grass, mushroom and leaves and at times they feed on eggs small birds and occasionally small lizards. they don’t like to be looked at, when they see that a person is looking at them they will jump and hide under the tree leaves. They do also go under breeding and it always happens after 5 months. they give birth normally at night and their production period is normally at the end of the dry season in Uganda
To fully explore the range and its layer upon layer of habitats – montane forest, bamboo, tree heathers and Afro-Alpine – you’ve got to pull on your hiking boots and trek. This is a vivid but fairly challenging hiking destination, with marked trails maintained by Rwenzori Trekking Services. An 11-day guided trek will get you to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks or you can do day hikes to explore the forests and foothills.
The Kasese town is the gateway to trekking in the mountains. On the full summit trek, you’ll be camping or sleeping in simple mountain huts along the route, accompanied by guides who not only know the route but are knowledgeable about the wildlife, birdlife and strange flora you’ll see. On the lower levels, there are lots of beautiful birds, plus the chance of seeing a chimpanzee or blue monkey scampering off through the forest, Rwenzori red duiker browsing and rock hyrax sunning themselves outside their burrows.
You’ll need to be fit to tackle the trek up to Margherita Peak. The trail can be slippery, steep and uneven and to actually summit, you’ll also need a good head for heights. Towards the top, the route is classed as a difficult scramble, often snowy and icy, and the final climb up Margherita glacier is demanding. At the end of the glacier, you will also have to climb around an exposed section of rock, which is bolted and roped, before reaching the ridge that runs to the top of Margherita Peak. This is not the place to discover you have got vertigo.
Cultural Experience in the Mountain Rwenzori,
Another cool activity around Mountain Rwenzori is a cultural immersion in the evening local people of all ages come together to celebrate their culture. A limited number of guests are welcome to join and practically participate in this traditional merry-making session. Here you can join the traditional workshops or just sit back to learn and appreciate the local Bakonzo culture as you view the sounds and moves of these mountain dances. During or after the function, you can shop for souvenirs in the local gift shop, purchase local meals, or chat with the locals to learn more about Uganda, the Rwenzori Mountains and its people.
Hiking and Nature walk,
Nature walks and day hikes are also some of the activities on Mountain Rwenzori hiking and nature walk in Mountain Rwenzori. You will be led by an experienced guide/ ranger to diverse trails and expect to see the beautiful Lake Muhoma and Buraro chimp forest. Passing through communities of the Bakonzo that have occupied this place for 100 of years. Before leaving the community you will enjoy the traditional cultural dance of the local people staying around Mt Rwenzori. this is one of the best moments during your safari. during the nature walk the guide will take you through river Mubuku where most of the power used in Kasese starts from in sight and continue to hike above the 2300m above sea level, you will have a chance also to view the snow copped of the highest pick of Mt Rwenzori Margherita peak that gives unforgettable and spectacular sight to the visitors