Luxury and mid-range mountain climbing adventure Safari in the Rwenzori Mountains

Safari highlights: Climbing the Central Circuit in the Rwenzori Mountains: Mountain climbing, summiting Margherita Peak (5109m) optional, birding, fauna, flora and landscape photography Equipment to bring: Camera, wide angle lens, 200+ mm lens, Tripod, waterproof protection for equipment, minimum of 6 fully charged spare batteries.
Sleeping bag for low temperature, knife, hiking shoes/ gumboots, water proof trousers, poncho or rain coat, heavy warm jacket, hand gloves, scarf and cup, jumper, torch, bottle of water.

For those intending to climb the peaks (which is optional) you will be provided with some specialised equipment in addition: a pair of crampons, snow gloves, snow goggles, climbing boots, rope and ice axe, as you reach the glacier area. The entrance package gives to each person the support of an experienced guide plus four porters, to carry most of the luggage so that you can move with your camera only.

Itinerary summary:
Day 1: Airport- Kampala
Day 2: Drive to Kasese
Day 3: Climb to Nyabitaba camp (2650m)
Day 4: John Matte hut (3350m)
Day 5: Bujuku Hut (3930 m).
Day 6: Elena Hut (4,563 m) on Mount Stanley Plateau
Day 7: Summit Margherita (5,109m) and go to Kitandara Hut – (3,979 m)
Day 8: Guy Yeoman Hut – (3.505 m)
Day 9: Nyabitaba(2650m)
Day 10: Trek to Lake Mahoma
Day 11: Drive to Kampala through Kasese
Day 12: Kampala shopping – Airport Departure

About the Rwenzori Mountains
Size: 996km2
• Gazetted in 1991 and recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 and Ramsar site in 2008.
• Highest point: 5,109m above sea level on Mt Stanley’s Margherita Peak.
• A block of rock upfaulted through the floor of the Western Rift Valley.
• Named “Mountains of the Moon” by the Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150.
• Explorer Henry Stanley placed the Rwenzori on the map on 24th May 1888.
• The oldest recorded person to reach Margherita Peak was Ms Beryl Park aged 78 in 2010.

Reptails Uganda
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park lies in western Uganda along the Uganda-Congo border with the highest snow peak the third highest point in Africa. The lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and moist montane forest. The park protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range and is home to 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation. Read More

Detailed Programme

Day 1: Airport- Kampala
You arrive at Entebbe International Airport and a representative from Snap Uganda Tours will meet you and drive you to Sheraton Kampala Hotel ( Luxury) 45 Km away or to Cassia Lodge ( Mid-range ) . {1hr} Please feel free to ask questions about Uganda along the way. The Sheraton Kampala Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city commanding a magnificent view of Kampala city from guest rooms and suites. It is surrounded by 9 acres of well-manicured gardens and has a state-of-the-art Fitness Center, complete with a gymnasium, outdoor pool and massage rooms. You can also take slow shutter speed photographs of Kampala City from your room.

Dinner and overnight at Sheraton Kampala Hotel- Luxury
Dinner and overnight at Cassia Lodge -Mid-range

Day 2: Drive to Kasese
After an early breakfast, drive to Nyakalenjija in Kasese for 7 hours at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains through Fort Portal and check in at the Equator Snow Lodge ( Luxury) or at Rwenzori Base Camp ( Mid-range/ Budget).
Dinner and overnight at Equator Snow Lodge- Luxury
Dinner and Overnight at Rwenzori Base Camp -Mid-range/Budget

Day 3: Climb to Nyabitaba camp (2650m)
After breakfast, drive a short distance to Nyakalenjija trailhead (1600m) to pick guides, porters and climbing gear if you do not have it.

Begin your hike to Nyabitaba through Bakonjo homesteads surrounded by coffee and banana plantations. Along the way, ask your guide to show you the famous three- horned chameleon. The trail follows the Mubuku River, through health forest and at some point crosses the Mahoma and Kyoho Rivers. After Mahoma River there is steep climb up to Nyabitaba Hut. The Hut is located 10 km from Nyakalenjija and takes about 4/5 hours walk through montane forest and the Bakonjo villages. It consists of a 2 room wooden building, with annexed pit latrine and tap water piped from the near Lake Mahoma, worthy a visit on your return leg. The hut has several double decker beds and provides mattresses. It commands the stunning views of the Portal Peaks in the North. In the evening, check out the sunset over the peaks and later in the night, capture the stars with the peaks in the fore ground.
Dinner and Overnight at the Hut

Day 4: John Matte hut (3350m)
After breakfast, hit the trail John Matte. From Nyabitaba the trail drops down through the forest to the Kurt Shafer Bridge, at the confluence of the Mubuku and Bujuku rivers. The trees along this trail are covered in Spanish moss which the locals call the old man’s beard (Nyamureju). Along the way to the bridge, look out for the Rwenzori Turaco and three- horned Chameleons. For birders, Rwenzori is home to about 217 species of birds and 17 of them can only be found in here. The birds you might see are: the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared Owl, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Strange Weaver, Archers’ Robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, White-starred Robin, Montane Sooty Boubou, Slender-billed Starling, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed Sunbird, Barbets, Golden-winged Sunbird, Greenbuls, IIladopsis, Apalises, Crimson wings and Flycatchers.

After the bridge, you pass through bamboo forest before embarking on a long and exhausting stretch of slippery moss-covered rock. From the Nyamileju rock shelter, Mount Stanley and Mount Speke can be seen before passing into the zone of the giant heather, lobelia, everlasting flowers and groundsel. Before reaching John Matte, you pass through tiring boggy terrain. Named after the founding president of the Mountain Club of Uganda, John Matte hut is situated on a hillside on the banks of River Bujuku. It consists of a 3 room wooden building and has a pit latrine.

This is the reaching point of the second day of trekking along the central circuit, which is considered the most challenging part of the trekking. At John Matte, you will be rewarded with the view of the snow covered Margherita peak if it’s not cloudy. Take pout your camera with your tripod out at night for night photography.
Dinner and Overnight at John Matte Hut.

Day 5: Bujuku Hut (3930 m)
After breakfast, you head to Bujuku Hut. Along the way, the trail drops to Bujuku River which you cross into the upper Bigo Bog up to Bujuku Lake. Here, you will be rewarded with views of Mt Baker to the South and Mt Stanley to the west. The location Bujuku Hut is in a narrow valley below Steinmann pass where the routes proceed to the Congolese side of the park, to Mount Stanley (from the South) and to Mount Speke (from the North). The name is after the Bujuku Lake, which is just near the hut. There are also eco-toilets available and spring water. From this location you have a spectacular view of the Mount Baker just in front of you, and the Stanley Plateau on the right. You plan from this hut your ascent to Mount Speke as well as to Mount Stanley.
Dinner and Overnight at Bujuku Hut.

Day 6: Elena Hut (4,563 m) on Mount Stanley Plateau
You leave Bujuku through a steep climb west of the lake, passing through a dreamlike Groundsels Gully as it ascends to Scott-Elliot Pass at 4372m. Metal ladders at the head of the gully lead you over a steep section before the trail splits into two. The right leads up to Elena Hut that once used to be in the snow line on Mount Stanley.
The section is characterised by large boulders. The left path leads to Scott Elliot and down to Lake Kitandara.

Elena hut is the last point before climbing the Stanley plateau. It is located on a rocky area of Mount Stanley. The hut is quite small and does not offer much comfort, considering the temperature and the location. It is the staging post for ascending Mount Stanley to Mragherita Peak. Elena directly overlooks Mount Baker and Mount Speke, though it is often submerged by the fog. Once at Elena, you start sorting out and preparing your technical climbing equipment.

Dinner and Overnight at Elena Hut.

Day 7: Summit Margherita(5,109m) and go to Kitandara Hut – (3,979 m)
You wake at 4:00am. Put on your climbing gear and start the climb to Margherita peaks (5109m) through Stanley Plateau Glacier. It can be a four to seven hour walk to the summit of Margherita. This technical climb takes from four to seven hours and is for the physically fit as it requires roping up, crampons, ice axes and appropriate equipment for cold, windy and icy conditions. It is best to attempt the final climb in a minimum group of 4- two climbers and two guides. You climb on to the glacier, cross the Stanly Plateau and proceed with the ascent to Margherita peak using a rope.

From the peak, you descend to Elena hut for a short rest and slope down to Kitandara camp through Scott- Elliot pass past Kitandara Lakes. The hut is situated on the shores of Lake Kitandara, one of the most beautiful and romantic locations in the Rwenzoris. It consists of a one room tin house. From this point you have the best view of the Mount Luigi of Savoy. The hut is also the starting point for ascending Mount Baker and Mount Luigi of Savoy.
Dinner and Overnight at Kitandara.

Day 8: Guy Yeoman Hut – (3.505 m)
From Kitandara, the trail ascends steeply up the headwall, spreading out from the base of Mount Baker and continuing to Fresh field pass. From the pass, the long muddy descent continues, passing the rock shelter at Bujangolo, the base camp for the historic expedition by the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906.
Guy Yeoman hut is situated along the Kabamba valley on the banks of the Mubuku river, surrounded by coniferous forests. The hut consists of a 2 room wooden hut with annex pit latrine. Near the hut there are the beautiful Kabamba waterfalls.

Dinner and Overnight at Guy Yeoman Hut.

Day 9: Nyabitaba(2650m)
The path from Guy Yeoman to down to Nyabitaba can be slippery and muddy with little to hold. It requires careful balancing over steep rocks. An overnight stop at the Nyabitaba Hut.
Dinner and Overnight at Nyabitaba Hut.

Day 10: Trek to Lake Mahoma
After an early breakfast, you trek for two hours taking pictures along the way to Lake Mahoma. This journey can take 45 minutes for none photographers. There are over 20 lakes in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The lowest and most accessible is Lake Mahoma (2,651m) in the bird-rich forest of the Central Circuit. Lake Mahoma commands spectacular views of the Portal Peaks and is home to the Red-knobbed Coot. You can also see the Rwenzori Turaco. Animals you may encounter are Duiker, Mountain Hyrax, Blue and Black and white Colobus Monkeys. The trail also provides great views of Kasese town. From Lake Mahoma, you come back to Nyabitaba for lunch and head back to Equator Snow Lodge. Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija is about 3 hours and this will mark the end of your Central circuit hike in the legendary Mountains of the Moon.

Dinner and Overnight at Equator Snow Lodge- Luxury
Dinner and Overnight at Rwenzori Base Camp- Mid-range/Budget/ Budget

Day 11: Drive to Kampala through Kasese
On the way, you will stop in Kyamburoa to take pictures of the scenic Rift-valley landscape of Queen Elizabeth National Park, showing the mosaic of open grassland and wooded savannah, the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges and the Kazinga Channel connecting Lake George.

Before reaching Mbarara, you will pass through beautiful tea plantations. You may be lucky and find tea planation workers picking tea. You will have a lunch stop at Igongo Museum and Cultural Center in Mbarara and another one at the Equator crossing about 1 hour before Kampala. Check in at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel.

Dinner and overnight at Sheraton Kampala Hotel- Luxury
Dinner and overnight at Cassia Lodge -Mid-range

Day 12: Kampala shopping – Airport Departure
After breakfast you go for a City tour of Kampala and then do some shopping you will have lunch at a restaurant of your choice, thereafter you are transferred to Entebbe International Airport for your departure flight.

Tour Prices
This is a private Photographic Mountain climbing Safari and can be booked by an individual or a group of a maximum of seven people per vehicle.

Cost Includes

  • Airport transfers
  • Transport in a 4×4 Safari Van
  • Services of an English speaking driver guide, guides, porters and a chef.
  • Climbing gear: Ropes, crampons, harness, ice axe, climbing boots, sleeping bag, snow glasses, hand gloves, and ice glasses.
  • Rescue
  • Food for the whole trip
  • Fuel for the whole safari
  • All park entry fees
  • Drinking water in the Vehicle

Cost excludes
Visa fees, Air ticket and tips for guides, porters and chef.

Thank you for choosing Snap Uganda Tours. We will be pleased to hear your comments after the Photographic Safari