The Rwenzori Mountains hiking guide
Snow at the equator is remarkably one of the main highlights of an Uganda safari. Thinking of mountaineering, there is no better option in Uganda than Climbing the Rwenzoris. Wondering where to start from for your Rwenzori Mountaineering.
A comprehensive guide on your Rwenzori mountaineering adventure
Climbing Mount Rwenzori is one of the toughest adventures anyone could undertake in Uganda. The Rwenzori being mountain ranges, means that reaching the top goes through many literal up and down trails. This isn’t the same case for regular mountains where the ascent to the summits means climbing only. What all this means is that Rwenzoris are easier to climb, even though it is the highest peak ranks third in Africa.
There are two types of hiking experiences in the Rwenzoris: high altitude and low altitude.
- Low Altitude Rwenzori Hiking: The low-altitude treks won’t take you beyond 4,000 meters and typically last 3-6 days. It is only the low altitude hikes where children of 12 years and below are permitted.
- High Altitude Treks: High altitude treks take you to the different peaks of 4,000 meters above sea level. These treks usually last between 5 days and 12 days.
Rwenzori Mountaineering at a glance
The Rwenzori Mountains are one of the ten national parks of Uganda. The main activity in this national park is hiking. Given the improved infrastructure that has been put on the mountains such as bridges and good huts along the different trails, trekking the Rwenzoris has not been any better than now.
The Rwenzori Mountains hold the highest point in Uganda at 5109 m above sea level and have permanent glaciers on their several peaks. The highest point is Margarita peak on mount Stanley.
Those who have trekked the three East African mountains – Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori – have concluded that Rwenzori is the most unique and challenging of the three.
Regardless of its uniqueness compared to the other two major mountains in east Africa, Rwenzori Mountains are the least visited due to low publicity. This makes the mountain less explored however much it is a perfect holiday destination.
Unlike Kenya and Kilimanjaro being volcanic mountains, Rwenzori is a block mountain whose ranges were formed as a result of an uplifted block. The Rwenzori range is about 120 km long and 65 km wide.
Recently Rwenzori Mountains National Park has developed several trekking trail routes that both basic and experienced trekkers can explore.
With the shorter trails introduced, now trekkers of Rwenzori can experience from one day of trekking and return to the base camp hotel to about 9 days of trekking or even longer for those who want to climb the high snow peaks.
Important to note that special skills and equipment will be required for climbing the high snow peaks. One can choose to hire these tools from the base camp or come with their own. The park and different concessionaires have provided special mountain climbing skills to the guides and rangers who take tourists.
The two most popular Rwenzori treks follow different trails and are managed by different companies. These are the central circuit trail and the Kilembe route trail. Both trails lead to the peaks or you may choose to do shorter days’ trails that don’t make it to the peaks.
Within the central circuit, the Mahoma trail loop at the central circuit gate is a wilderness camping trail that takes a maximum of three days two nights.
Among the short day’s trails includes the Bureau chimp trail, the Nyabitaba one-day nature walk, and other shorter trails at the several gates and ranger posts.
Lastly, if you are to have a good hiking experience, you need to have porters and local guides to help you on your trip to the peaks of these mountains. This will make your hike more relaxed and less stressed.
The Best time to trek the Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori National Park can be visited any time of the year but it has two peak seasons each year, and this is when most people trek.
- The first season covers June to August while the second season covers December to the beginning of March. This timing gives the trekkers a whole seven months of good trekking weather per year.
- The rain season ends in June though this does not mean that it will not rain at all these months. July to August and December to the end of January are the most recommended seasons for climbing the Rwenzori.
Essential things to pack for Rwenzori treks in Uganda
Here are some essential things to pack for your Rwenzori Hike:
- Backpack to carry your day pack as well as essential items such as cameras, torch, etc
- A large duffle bag that carries up to 20 kg is recommended to carry essential things that you will need during the hike
- Clothes that include warm shirts and pants, several pairs of socks, gaiters, rain poncho, a wide-brimmed hat, etc
- Insect Repellant that contains high percentages of DEET
- Headlamp and a hand torch to provide you with light
- Important hiking gear such as Ice Axe, ropes
- Cleaning Essentials including toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant as well as other personal effects. You should not forget travel towels and wet wipes as well as toilet tissue