Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a block mountain that rises from and forms the boundaries of western arm of the African rift that splits the continent from north to south. The Rwenzori region spreads to Kasese district in the south, Bunyangabu, Ntoroko and Kabarole districts in the east, Bundibugyo in the north and west is Uganda borderline with DR Congo. The Rwenzoris is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it harbors unique land features, wildlife and natural resources. Much of Rwenzori Mountain national park’s 998 km surface area is above 2500m above sea level into the Rwenzori Mountains.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is a unique Uganda safari destination like no other in many ways. Rwenzori in the indigenous Bakonjo dialect is ‘rainmaker’ in reference to the 5,109m high imposing Rwenzori Mountains, which pierce into the clouds. The Rwenzoris high altitude has an effect in rainfall formation and distribution with windward and rain shadow effects. True to the indigenous people thinking and rest of the world, the Rwenzori in some way influences weather patterns and rain in particular. To the international community, the Rwenzori is the legendary “the Mountains of the Moon”.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park became a national park in 1991. The region is a world of rich diversity and contrasts. It is a mountainous region that just springs from the Albertine rift. The Rwenzori is in the heart of African tropics, a zone with reputation of high temperatures yet permanent glacier naturally flows from the summits of the Rwenzoris. The Rwenzori region is a habitat with unique vegetation that varies according to altitude and equally resident wildlife species. The wildlife studies show more than 18 mammal species, 217 bird species, 9 reptiles, 6 amphibian species and unique alpine plant species, yet the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is not an ideal destination for spotting large populations of game. The Rwenzori is popular Uganda travel destination for adventure travelers with heart of steel and extra doses of adventure adrenalin in search of thrill in exploration beyond the ordinary.
Mountaineering and hiking safaris put the Rwenzori in the Uganda tourism limelight more than any other thing. Rwenzori mountain safari is never an ordinary affair but rather a well planned move that takes a couple of days into the chilling conditions in the mountains. The hiking entourage is composed of skilled mountain hikers, a limited number of visitors, porters, cooks, first aid experts and ranger escorts. The travelers on hiking expeditions traverse the Rwenzoris, have maximum opportunities of exploring the wilderness and discover the beauty of Uganda tour that is a reserve for the privileged few.
Short walking expeditions taking a few hours or days into the foothills of the Rwenzoris are possible for travelers with limited time, body disabilities or other limitations but with an urge to explore the beauty of the mountainous region. Note that the high altitude has its own challenges; high altitude allergies, low oxygen levels, chilling temperatures, rough-slippery terrain and the natural setting may not be conducive for every individual hiker.
The Rwenzori region is the 3rd highest point on the African continent. This creates anxiety amongst travelers on tour of Uganda in search of exploring unique landscapes and the corresponding vegetation that are habitat for bird species that are rare to spot in other regions. The Rwenzoris is a popular Uganda bird watching safaris expedition.
The lifestyle of indigenous people in the highland regions is quite different from the rest of the communities in the foothills. Note the temperatures at high altitude recede, the oxygen levels are low that makes slow heartbeat and breathing. Transporting basic items needs extra planning and tiresome because of uneven terrain. The weather on windward side is almost wet all through the year, while dry in the leeward side. The agricultural practices, other economic activities and homestead settings are different from the rest of the country. Some travelers on tour into Uganda how highlander harness nature.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park is 7 hours travel by smooth road to western Uganda on the border with DR Congo. From Kampala City, a circuit of road network approaches Rwenzori from two fronts. The Kampala-Mbarara-Kasese road traverses through a rich Uganda tourism zone; Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks and is the most preferred. The next option is Kampala-Fort Portal-Kasese road adjoins road from Murchison Falls National Park at Kyenjojo town, traverses through Kibale rainforest and beautiful scenic landscapes. Either way, the road distance is average 390 km from Kampala. It is highly recommended to change direction of travel and use both ways to give travelers on tour of Uganda opportunities to explore both regions. The airfield in Kasese Town has scheduled flights and is 20 minutes drive to Rwenzori tourism offices at Nyakarengija.