Rwenzori Mountains

24, October 2011

 Mount Rwenzori is a mountain range in Uganda located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also known as “Mountains of the moon”. With a summit height at 5,109 meters ((16,761 ft), Mount Rwenzori is the second highest mountain in East Africa. The mountain range is well known worldwide for its tremendous hiking experience, scenery, sunsets, permanent snow capes, views of the clouds from above and biological species biodiversity. Over 70 mammals including 4 species of diurnal primate, 15 species of butterfly and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation have been identified at Mount Rwenzori and its surrounding.

As you take the Rwenzori hike, the history and mythology of the area will fill your mind. A mountain range that covers 996km2 formed after a massive uplift in the earth’s crust. The range stretching some 120 km north/south and 48 km east/west with 6 snows capped mountains-Margherita Peak as the highest. It is believed the formation was about three million years ago in the late Pliocene, as a result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks including: gneiss, amphibolites granite, and quartzite.

The first sightings of Rwenzori was by  the expedition of European explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1889 and  William Grant Stairs who climbed to 3,254 meters (10,676 ft) though the  first ascent to the summit was made by the Duke of the Abruzzi in 1906. There are 2 primary routes that can be taken to the summit – The Central Circuit Trail from the trailhead at Mihunga, the route ascends the Bujuku Valley via Nyabitaba for acclimatization before reaching the peaks- which is an easier climb and the one most frequently used and the Kilembe Trail that ascends the southern slopes of the Rwenzori from a trailhead at Kilembe near the town of Kasese.

Rwenzori mountain ranges lie within Rwenzori mountains National Park gazetted in 1991-a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological life zone including; Savanna about 3,000 and 5,500 feet (914 - 1,676 m.), the Rainforest above the Grasslands from 5,500 to 7,500 feet (1,676 - 2,286 m.) with giant ferns, wild banana trees and lianas, Bamboo reaching up to around 9,500 feet (2,895 m.), Heath zone above the bamboo that extends up to around 12,000 feet (3,657 m.), the Alpine zone, above 12,000 feet (3,657 m.) with the tree groundsel and giant lobelia and above 14,500 feet is wrapped in permanent snow and storm-swept glaciers.

 The region's waterfalls, lakes and glaciers make it one of Africa's most beautiful alpine areas. A popular tourist destination for mountain climbers- a real hiker’s heaven in Africa and photographers thanks to its otherworldly shape! Hikers get to admire the wonderful landscapes that add up to the explorations. The main peak of the mountain can be climbed easily by a person with basic mountaineering skills, although altitude and unpredictable weather make for a challenging and adventurous trip. It is perfect for people who wish to gain snow experience.

People from around the world are captivated by Rwenzori Mountain height - some 5,109 meters above sea level - and the adventurous, driven, mountain climbers who take it on embody the physical and mental extremes that test human capabilities.

The ancient Precambrian rocks which were extruded from the surrounding plains during the formation of the western rift valley is another worldly wonder in the magnificent homelands of the Bakonjo and Baamba-Bantu speaking people who have lived on the mountain for many generations, and whose culture is adapted to the steep slopes and climate of Rwenzori.

If you’re among the people in this world who actually seek out extreme thrills, then climbing Mount Rwenzori has to be high on your list – if not at the top. There is, of course, the danger associated with navigating the East Africa’s second tallest mountain, and doing quite a bit of it with very little oxygen.

Doing that kind of activity will undoubtedly lead to the kind of bragging rights you can use at any point in your life to one-up just about anyone you encounter. That is unless they’ve also climbed Rwenzori, and then you’d have to go to No. 2 on your list, so just be prepared. But if you’d rather listen to a couple of climbers who have been to Rwenzori – and even done a little climbing there – then you’re in luck.

What to Do and See in Rwenzori Mountains

Apart from usual known adventure Rwenzori climbing, there are a lot more to see in Mount Rwenzori. Travelers can do a trip for wildlife nature walks conducted in the park, high altitude flora described as Africa's botanic Big Game, natural waterfalls to see like Ngitte, Rwajimba and Semuliki, birds, monkeys, Hot springs, numerous caves and lakes- Rwenzori Mountains are worthy a place to visit as it is one of the few unspoilt Mountains of the world because of its rugged nature yet this wilderness character is an attraction for many climbers and Mountaineers.

What to Wear and Bring

For Rwenzori Mountains light day hike, you won't have to procure any unique gear or frightening equipment. But a few minutes of preparation means you'll go home with a smile on your face instead of blisters on your feet!

Wear layered outfits for Rwenzori mountaineering excitement; it may seem chilly now, but once you begin hiking, you'll warm up quickly. Hiking boots are great, but for a light hike a sneaker with a heavy tread will be just fine. Wear a hat; it will shade your face from the sun, protecting you from sunburn and making it easier to see.

Have water during Rwenzori hike; studies prove that by drinking water, you increase your stamina for physical activities. Put the water in a small backpack along with a couple of granola bars, a bagel or a bag of trail mix for a quick burst of energy. If it's an all-day hike, pack a sandwich for lunch. Pack sun block; you don't want sunburn as your souvenir!





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