Rwenzori National Park is a Ugandan national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges. Almost 1,000 km² in size, the park has Africa’s third highest mountain peak and many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers. The park is known for its beautiful plant life.
Established in 1991 mountain Rwenzori National Park hosts the third-highest peak in Africa, Margherita Peak one of Mount Stanley’s twin summits. Mount Stanley is located in the park and rises above dry plains found north of the equator. It is higher than the Alps in Switzerland and snow-capped as well, Margherita Peak stands 5109 meters above sea level. What’s more Africa’s 4th and 5th highest peaks, that is, Mount Speke and Mount Baker, all named after the world’s most celebrated explorers of all time are located in the park and a legend has it that they were the ones who discovered them hence being named after them.
Furthermore, the park is endowed with snowfields, waterfalls that run from high up the mountain due to snow flow into rivers such as Nyamwamba, and lakes so it is one of the most beautiful mountain areas not only in Uganda or Africa but also in the world as a whole because this has been proven by the world’s most travelled explorers of time such as Mutton Stanley, John Speke to mention but a few.
Mount Rwenzori National Park is located in western Uganda and due to its fairly big size is shared among three districts that is, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Kabarole with the nearest town as Kasese where multiple guests who visit the park always get peaceful and comforting accommodations. The park is located at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and so it borders Virunga National Park in the east with a distance of just 31 miles. What’s more, it is also located in the western Albertine East African Rift Valley which proves that it is a whole mix of adventure and beauty – I mean a mountain located in a Rift Valley.
Mount Rwenzori National Park is also a host to Ramsar sites with a good number of wetlands. The official Ramsar site name is “Rwenzori Mountains Ramsar site” and was designated in 2009 on May 13th.
The compass coordinates of Mount Rwenzori National Park are 00°22’N 29°57’E. This can help you with your mapping especially those who are flying using helicopters and the explorers who prefer to travel alone.
History of Mount Rwenzori National Park.
The park was founded in 1991 with the governing body as the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site which was designated in 1994 in the 18th Session. The park was endangered in the late 90s to 2004 due to rebel militias who occupied the parts of the park from 1997 to June 2001 when they were forced to evacuate by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces. So, the park was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage between 1999 and 2004 because of insecurity and lack of adequate resources to accommodate and match the expectations of travellers who visited the park.
This period of insecurity cost Uganda billions of dollars that should have been earned from the tourists who used to visit the area every year but we are glad that it came to an end and now people can go for their tours with no interruption And the revenues can now be earned to support the country’s development and also better the experiences in Rwenzori with more amenities.
Tourist attractions in Mount Rwenzori National Park.
The park has unique attractions in the form of physical Landforms like the famous mountain peaks, Speke, Stanley and so forth and the flora and fauna such as cultivated plants, Abyssinia tree, Symphonia globulifera trees, Clusiaceae trees, hypericum revolutum in bloom, erica arboreal, giant African bamboo species, birds such as; Rwenzori turaco, animals like l’hoest monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys, bushbucks, leopards, duikers, Rwenzori otters, giant forest hog though hardly seen, eastern chimpanzee, southern free hyrax, African forest elephant, the three-horned chameleon, which is one of East Africa’s endemic species that mostly dwells in places with higher altitudes at least above 3000 meters above sea level which explains why this unique reptile inhabits the slopes of the great Rwenzori Mountains.
More birds in the park include, barred long tail, great blue turaco, cuckoo, crested cranes, long-eared owl, African jacana, handsome francolin, marabou stork, cinnamon chested bee-eater, grey crowned crane, archers Robin-chat, white starred robin, Rwenzori batis, montane sooty boubou, legends bush shrike, slender-billed starling and so many others.
Popular activities done by visitors In Mount Rwenzori National Park.
Esteemed visitors to the National Park mainly find themselves lost in the adventurous activities such as mountain climbing, and nature walks, cultural encounters, in the Rwenzori mountains with the indigenous Bakonzo who have inhabited the area since time immemorial, Birding is yet another nice activity that cannot miss mention since the park is full of rare species that cannot be found elsewhere in the world apart from here, wildlife viewing, photography since the park has beautiful landscapes glaciers and so many other beautiful scenes that make photography come out prestigious and with cinematic backgrounds.
The whirls of the wind as you approach the steep sides of the mountain are so therapeutic and as you go up high you can watch the sunrise from the east to the west with no disruptions because you are already up high and you can only see the skies, and the clouds beneath you. Such views can make one like to stay up there for a good time because they can be traded for anything.
How to access Mount Rwenzori National Park.
For an explorer wondering how to get to the mountains of the Moon National Park, it is simple and there is no need to worry about it for one can use either road transport or just fly to the park since there are means to allow this too. For road transport users, which is mostly used, from the main city centre- Kampala through the areas of Mubende to Fort Portal – the tourist city which is 300km can take a Visitor about four hours. From Kampala through Masaka -Mbarara – Bushenyi up to Kasese, which is approximately 350 kilometres may consume 6 hours of a traveler’s time just on the road.
For the flying visitors, one can take a flight from Kajjansi airstrip to the developed Kasese airstrip in western Uganda, from where a tourist guide can find them with off-road land cruisers and they embark on their drive to the National park which saves time and makes the experience more wonderful because one sees Uganda’s beautiful landscapes from above. The bird’s view of Uganda is priceless!
Favorable time to visit Mount Rwenzori National Park.
Well, from an experienced tourist guide’s point of view, the very best time to visit the National Park would be starting early June to late August and from late November to early March. This time aligns very well with the seasons and the changing weather conditions as for any time that is not that, the slopes of the mountain are very slippery. But do not be discouraged because this park can be visited any time of the year according to your capacity and endurance of the weather and its vicissitudes.
And for the ones who have a love for climbing mountains and hiking,mid-year approaching August is the best time to climb up to the highest peak – Margherita peak of the beautiful mountains of the moon. Every person who has a love for travel should try out this mountain because it is way beyond what is shown in the pictures, The challenge it gives triggers the body’s health and one cannot remain the same after trying out the challenge of getting to the top of the mountain as many people who have climbed up to the mountain of testimonies for their muscles changed due to the challenge.
The friends people have made on the trips have remained their friends for a lifetime and this is the thing I would wish for all of you because good friends made on trips stay in our lives for so long. Plus it also helps you connect with people from different parts of the world. For example, Europeans get to interact with Africans which is something good. You also get to eat the local foods that the people eat which would probably not find anywhere in the world apart from here.
This makes the National Park one of its kind in the whole world giving you more reasons to visit it. You should give this a try because by the end of your trip, you won’t be the same and you will live to tell a story about Uganda and what it has to offer.
What you need to carry on your journey to the National Park.
Travellers are reminded to carry a few jackets, winter jackets, throw blankets, a torch, a camera if you can, a lighter, a walking stick, shorts, Snacks to eat in the times when the food is scarce on the hike or just to store some energy for those who are hiking, A map of the area is equally important for the explorers and the Lorner tourists, A good pair of boots is also important since there is slippery terrain. Medicine for those with health issues the list is endless as long as it’s not heavy luggage.
In conclusion, Mount Rwenzori National Park awaits you our esteemed traveller, always ready to showcase the beauty you have always heard and wondered about, or probably seen on screen by friends who visited before, in greatly captured pictures, or even read about it, and what I can assure you is that its tagline – “ Mountains of the moon” is an understatement since it is worth more than that and has proven to always exceed the expectations of the visitors.
Furthermore, I remind you that in case you visit the national park leave with memories and the only thing you should leave behind should be your footsteps as we look forward to conserving the site for future generations and being sustainable to the environment.