The Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda carries the distinguished honour as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It borders the famed Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and within its 1 000 square kilometers there are lakes, waterfalls, snowfields and glaciers, making it a unique and captivating wildlife destination.
The Rwenzori mountains, situated just north of the equator, take centre stage with heights greater than the Alps. It is steeped in history with the geographer Ptolemy declaring it the “Mountains of the Moon” in 150 AD. Three of Africa’s five tallest peak towers over the landscape – Margherita peak is the third highest at 5 109 meters with Mount Speke and Mount Baker occupying the fourth and fifth spots.
The lower slopes of the mountains are covered in montane forest and moorland. Visitors will find themselves in a fairytale land with mosses and giant lobelias hanging from huge trees.
Traveling to the park is some journey, if safari-goers choose to do it by bus – it will take nearly six hours from Kampala to Kasese, 25 kilometers from the nearest entrance. For those with a slighter bigger budget, chartered flights are available can be arranged.
Expeditions to the Margherita summit can last up to 12 days and include breathtaking scenery of lakes and valleys.
A whole host of species are endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park with several of them on the endangered list. Seventy different types of mammals can be spotted, from elephants, chimpanzees to the Rwenzori otter, blue monkeys and small antelopes like bushbuck.
Seventeen of the 217 bird species are endemic to the park making it an important birding area. The forest teems with unique species like the Rwenzori turaco, long-eared owl and barred long-tailed cuckoo. Other species that are regularly observed include the handsome francolin, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Archers’ robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, montane sooty boubou and theLagden’s bush shrike.
Rwendzori Mountains National Park is a good destination to visit all year round. The dry season from June to August and then again between December and February is also regarded as the high season with higher visitor numbers.
Besides game viewing for the ardent safari-goer, the Rwendzori Mountains National Park offers unrivalled hiking and mountaineering opportunities. Expeditions to the Margherita summit can last up to 12 days and include breathtaking scenery of lakes and valleys. Shorter excursions to Lake Mahooma and the Buraro forest can also be arranged. Cultural outings to the Bakonzo village to get familiar with local traditions adds to the allure of the surroundings.
Nyakalenjija town close to the park has a variety of hotels and lodges. It is easy to embark on a handful day activities if this is the preferred option. Inside the park visitors can make use of camping facilities and huts for hikers.