- 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 up faulted 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.
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 high Rwenzoris comprises of six distinct mountains with permanent snow and glaciers. Despite being a few miles north of the Equator. The highest is Margherita peak on Mt Stanley (5,109m), Other are Speke (4,890m) and Baker (4,843m). The snow peaks can be reached by hiking the Central Circuit and Kilembe Trails. 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. The mountain range is 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. Wildlife Of the 70 species of mammals, six are Albertine Rift endemics while four are endemic to the park. Other mammals include the elephant, chimpanzee, colobus (Angola and black-and-white varieties are both present), blue monkeys, bushbucks and unusual reptiles such as the three-horned chameleon. Wildlife is difficult to spot in the dense forest.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is known for its distinctive flora. Hikers climb through a series of distinct altitudinal vegetation zones; montane forest, bamboo, tree heathers and afro-alpine. The latter, with its emblematic giant forms of Senecio (groundsel) and lobelia, is one of the world’s rarest botanical communities, being limited to East African mountains above 3800m. The misty, boggy, glacier-carved valleys of the high Rwenzori form a strange botanical world inhabited by triffid-sized forms of lobelia, heather and groundsel, crisp “everlasting flowers,” garishly coloured mosses and gnarled trees draped with curtains of lichen.
There are over 20 lakes in Rwenzori Mountains National Park with the most accessible being Mahoma (2,651m) in the bird-rich forest of the Central Circuit. The beautiful Lake Bujuku lies at the head of the deep, glacier carved Bujuku valley in the shadow of Mounts Stanley, Baker and Speke. In the Nyamwamba Valley, ascended by the Kilembe Trail, dams created by glacial moraine have created a string of eight delightful lakes.
The park is home to 217 bird species including several Albertine Rift endemics. Among these are 17 species that are endemic to the park making Rwenzori an important birding area (IBA). The forest zone at 1800m contains a diversity of birds like the Rwenzori Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Archers’ Robin-chat, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Batis, Montane Sooty Boubou, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Slender-billed Starling, Blue-headed Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Strange Weaver and several varieties of Barbets, Greenbuls, Apalises, IIladopsis, Flycatchers and Crimsonwings. Birding opportunities are greatest in the montane forest. Bee-eaters, robins, sunbirds and barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
People and Culture
You can walk through the homesteads of Bakonzo villagers in the foothills of the Rwenzoris as they demonstrate their daily activities, from tending to their animals and crops, to preparing meals with the freshest ingredients. See cultural dances, traditional costumes and hear their fascinating folklore. Bulemba houses the remains of Rwenzururu’s first King, Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga, who is believed to have saved the Bakonzo tribe from the Batooro oppression. Each year on 2nd September, every Mukonzo attends the pilgrimage to this sacred site to make sacrifices.