As early as 150AD, Claudius Ptolemy wrote of a snow capped mountain range deep in the heart of Africa which he claimed was the source of the world’s longest river, The Nile. He called it “Mountains of the Moon.” Indeed, over the centuries, mountaineers who later explored Ptolemy’s mountains found the high Rwenzori glaciers and snow peaks whose melt waters certainly represent the highest springs of the Nile. The alpine highland glaciers, snowfields and blue cirque lakes make Rwenzori one of Africa’s most beautiful mountain parks. The elusive mountains of the moon whose snow capped peaks are often veiled by clouds and mist rises up to 5,109m above sea level. Rwenzori is Africa’s tallest mountain range exceeded in altitude by Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, carrying Africa’s third, fourth and fifth highest peaks that are visible from miles around. Some of its peaks (*incomparable, beautiful and mist-shrouded) carry permanent snow and glaciers, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forest. The Mountain’s slopes above 1,600m are the preserve of hikers who rate the Rwenzori to be the most challenging of all African mountains. A variety of large mammals inhabit the lower slopes but the Rwenzori Mountains are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation. Its five distinct vegetation zones, montane forest, bamboo forest, tree heath-bog, Hagenia Rapanea scrub and afro-alpine moorland provide a unique backdrop to one of the most magnificent national parks in the world. Several endangered species and very unusual cloud forest flora like giant heathers, groundsels and lobelias, characterize the ranges as ‘Africa’s botanic big game’. In 1991, Rwenzori Mountains was gazetted as a National Park and in 1994 UNESCO inscribed it as a World Heritage and later a RAMSAR site.
The Rwenzori Mountains are the homelands of the Bakonjo and Bamba peoples. The indigenous people are Bantu speaking community who have lived in the foothills of the mountains for generations, and whose culture is adapted to the steep slopes and climate of the Rwenzori.
Mountains of the Moon
Mountain climbing is the most attractive activity on the legendary “Mountains of the Moon” that ties between altitudes 0° 06′ South and 0° 46′ North and longitudes 29° 47′ West and 30° 11′ East. Its diverse heavily snowcapped peaks are one of the few pristine and spectacular landscapes of the world The ranges are scenic with pristine and spectacular landscape that comprise of waterfalls, blue cirque lakes, snow clad peaks and stratified vegetation which is an attraction not only for visitors, but also creates potential for research as well as resources for the nearby communities.
The park is also home to 18 species of mammals, 217 species of birds. 9 species of reptiles and 6 species of amphibians, Large mammals that include: elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, bush buck, chimpanzee and leopard are present but rarely seen, however in the forest zone, droppings of elephants are frequently seen, while noisy chimpanzee, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys are common. In the Rwenzoris there are also some unique and rare animal species like the three horned chameleon, the Rwenzori colobus, Rwenzori Turaco and the Rwenzori double collared sunbird.
The park is also a cultural heritage for the neighboring communities. Eighteen charismatic sacred sites have been identified, mapped and protected as worship areas.
Trekking, Nature Walks, Peak Climbing/Mountaineering.
HOW TO GET THERE
Rwenzori Mountains are located within four district Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kasese districts in Western Uganda bordering Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The two major entry points to ascend to the Peaks (Nyakalengija central circuit and Kilembe Trail) are located near Kasese town while the third Nature walk trail head is at Kazingo near Fort Portal town in Kabarole District. The Nyakalengija trail head which is 22km off the Kasese-Fort Portal road and 25km north of Kasese town can be reached from Kampala via Fort Portal road (375km) or via Mbarara and Queen Elizabeth National park (450km).
Can be arranged on chartered flights from Kampala at either Kajjansi airfield or Entebbe International airport to Kasese airfield
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