Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.
The Rwenzoris are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination. A nine- to twelve-day trek will get skilled climbers to the summit of Margherita – the highest peak – though shorter, non-technical treks are possible to scale the surrounding peaks.
For those who prefer something a little less strenuous, neighboring Bakonzo villages offer nature walks, homestead visits home cultural performances and accommodation, including home-cooked local cuisine.
The Bakonzo people have lives on the slopes of the
Rwenzori for generations and the mountain is central to their culture and cosmology. The peaks are the home of their principal god, Kitasamba, whose name may not be spoken on the mountain. Eighteen sacred Konzo sites on the mountain have been identified, mapped and protected s worship areas.
Birding and forest walks
The forest zone, which occupies the lower contours of the national park, can be visited as a day walk from the Kilembe and Nyakalengija trailheads. Happily for birders, this relatively accessible area is where the park’s birdlife is concentrated. Look out for the Rwenzori turaco and Rwenzori double collared sunbird and other localized rarities such as the three horned chameleon and Rwenzori colobus.
Three routes ascend onto the high Rwenzori. Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS) operates the Kilembe Trail which enables nine-day expeditions to summit Mount Stanley and a shorter, six day option to the more accessible, but equally scenic, Mt. Luigi da Savoia. The Nyakalengija based Rwenzori Mountaineering Services runs the Central Circuit which reaches and returns from Mount Stanley in seven days. The Bukurungu Trail ascends from Kitumba to Mount Gessi.
The highest peaks on the six mountains that form the high Rwenzori can all be climbed. The most popular is the 5109m Margherita, the highest point on Mount Stanley and the roof of the Rwenzori. Be aware that summiting on Stanley, Speke, and Baker is a physically demanding activity, frequently in bad weather, and for which specialist equipment and technical experience is required. An ascent of Mount Stanley requires a minimum of seven days on the mountain.
The real appeal of the Rwenzori lies, arguably, not in the joy of reaching the top, but in the opportunity to hike through superb mountain scenery enlivened by equatorial snow and outlandish vegetation. With this in mind, shorter hikes to lesser peaks are becoming increasingly popular. A popular destination on the Kilembe Trail is the 4627m Mt. Luigi da Savoia which offers afroalpine vegetation, patches of equatorial snow and, weather permitting, grandstand views towards Mount Stanley, the summit of which lies three days distant. Nyakalengija Trailhead offers
a two-day hike to the scenic Lake Mahoma in the bamboo forest. The Kazingo Trail enables a day-long traverse of the north Rwenzori ridge between the Fort Portal plateau and Bundibugyo town in the Semliki Valley on the west side of the mountain.