Rwenzori mountains national park are a World Heritage Site of outstanding natural beauty. The Rwenzori mountains national park are the fabled, glacier topped ‘Mountains of the Moon’ that rise into almost permanent equatorial mists, their slopes covered with giant and strange vegetation.
At the center of the range, there are six peaks carrying permanent snow, three with glaciers. Mount Margherita, at 5 100 meters, is the third highest mountain in Africa. Beautiful, mist-shrouded jagged crags, enclosing numerous lakes, the rwenzori mountains national park with their ‘Lord of the Rings’ atmosphere, are a distinct change in landscape from anywhere else in Uganda, or indeed East Africa.
The Rwenzori mountains National Park was gazetted in 1991. It is 120 km long and 48 km wide, covering 996 sq kms of rugged mountains and rain-forests. These forests start above 3 000 meters and include giant forms of lobelia and heather. Indeed all plant and tree species here seem to grow unusually big. Unfortunately, the Rwenzori mountains National Park was closed in July 1997 due to rebel activity in the Democratic Republic of Congo border region, but was re-opened in 2001, thanks to the security situation in the region improving.
The rwenzori mountains national park now offers superb trekking and climbing with fabulous views and unusual scenery. The most popular trek is the 7-day circuit route. You are accompanied by porters and guides and overnight in mountain huts. The rwenzori mountains national park are the main watershed for the River Nile and it rains throughout the year, with exceptional heavy rains from March to June and September to December.
Because of this, trekking here is possibly the muddiest in the world. And when the mud stops, it’s replaced by watery bog. Hi-Tec mountaineering boots are well-nigh useless and most people trek in welly boots – even with crampons on! A walking stick is imperative, not only to steady yourself, but also to probe the thickness of the mud and bog in your path.
As you can imagine, it’s slow going come prepared. However having said this, there have been recent improvements – some of the bogs have wooden walkways and there are new bridges over the trickier rivers. This 7-day trek doesn’t climb any specific peaks but this can be organised for people with mountaineering experience.
The attempt at climbing Mount Margherita involves a night spent at Elena Hut at 4 540 meters; thereafter the use of crampons, ropes and an ice axe is essential.