Rwenzori mountains National Park is also known as “Mountains of the Moon” due to the snowcapped peaks that are seen glittering and glimmering in the moonlight. It was named so by an ancient geographer called Ptolemy who believed that River Nile originated from these mountains and the moon was the source of the river’s waters.
This park is located in the Southwestern parts of Uganda along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo around the Rwenzori Mountains and is mostly famous for mountain climbing, hiking, trekking and mountaineering and its unique wildlife.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park was established in 1991 although it was first declared as a forest reserve in 1934 and later expanded in 1952 to include the surrounding areas. The park was established with the aim of protecting the unique ecosystem of the Rwenzori mountains. The mountains act as a source of rivers that act as a water source to the neighboring communities as well as for several large rivers that flow through Uganda into neighboring countries.
The establishment of Rwenzori Mountains National Park came as a result of collaborative efforts between the government of Uganda and several international organizations like the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Size and surface area of Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The park has about 5 mountains which makes it cover a large surface area and the mountains include; Mountain Speke which was named after a British explore called John Hanning Speke, Mountain Stanley which is the third highest mountain in Africa, Mountain Baker which was named after a British explorer called Samuel Baker, Mountain Emin named after a German explorer called Emin Pasha and Margherita which is the highest peak in the Rwenzori Mountains. The park covers an area of approximately 1000 square kilometers and stands at 5109 meters above the sea level.
What to see in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The park is an adventurous destination for anyone interested in hiking, wildlife, natural beauty and cultural experience. The park has different water falls and rivers Nyamwamba and Mubuk rivers which act like water sources to the animals.
The park is a home to several wild life species such as colobus monkeys, Rwenzori leopards, chimpanzees, forest elephants, the Rwenzori turaco and the Rwenzori duiker.
The Rwenzori mountains give the tourists an experienced adventurous walk especially The Margherita Peak that offers a challenging climb to the experienced climbers. Most of the visitors that come to Rwenzori Mountains National Park happen to be mountain climbers who come test their mountain climbing experiences.
There are about 177 bird species residing in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park which include; the bearded vulture, the arche’s robin-chat, African crowded eagle, Alpine chat and the Rwenzori Batis.
Waterfalls are other beautiful things found in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and these include the Mubuku River Waterfall, Bujuku River Waterfall, Kabamba Waterfall, Nyamugashana Waterfall which are easily accessible and make a great addition to a visit to Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Activities carried out in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Mountain climbing is one of the most popular activities carried out in Rwenzori due to the availability of a number of mountains which favor the activity. The mountains have one of the highest peaks called The Margherita which attracts a lot of mountain climbers to improve their climbing experience.
The park has about 177 bird species which makes it a paradise for bird-watching. The activity involves visitors taking guided walks through out the park to see a variety of birds and guides helping them spot different species of birds and their behavior.
Cultural tours in Rwenzori Mountains National Park happen to be so interesting because the visitors tend to have access to different cultural behavior. The park is home to several groups of people for example the Karamojong, the Bamba people and the Bakonjo who share their stories and dances with the visitors.
Nature Walks in Rwenzori National Park are mostly carried out for the visitors to have a walk around the park in order to view different wildlife species. During the nature walks, visitors also explore the park’s flora and fauna.
Camping in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The park offers a number of campsites to the visitors who want to spend their nights in the wilderness and the visitors can chose from campsites including; Bujuku huts, Nyabitaba Campsite and Jhon Matte campsite.
Trekking and Hiking in The Rwenzori Mountains National Park consists of a number tails that offer trekking and hiking opportunities to the visitors. The most used and popular trek is the Central Circuit and it takes hikers through some of the park’s most scenic areas.
The Rwenzori Mountains National Park offers a number of activities to its visitors which makes it a must-visit destination for people interested in nature and adventure seeking.
Best time to visit Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season which runs from December to February and June to August. During the dry season, the place is generally dry and clear making it easy for the visitors to enjoy the park’s natural beauty and trek in the mountains. The mountain peaks are therefore safe and easy to climb.
During the wet season (March to May and September to November), trails of the park happen to be slippery and difficult to navigate and the mountain peaks obscured by the clouds. However, this can be the best time to visit for those who want to see the vegetation and waterfalls of the park.
How to get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park
There are basically to ways in which one can get to the park namely; by road and by air. The fastest way is obviously by air and there are only two airstrips that serve the park namely; Kasese airstrip and Pakuba Airstrip. Both airstrips receive flights from Entebbe International Airport which is located near Kampala the Capital City of Uganda. From Kasese Airstrip, it takes about 45minutes for the visitors to reach Rwenzori Mountains National Park’s main gate.
From Kampala, the park is approximately 365 kilometers and the journey by road takes 7-8 hours according to the traffic and speed used. The most popular and best used route is via Fort Portal town and Kasese Town.
Whether you are a nature lover, a mountain climber, a hiker or you are simply looking for a unique travel experience, Rwenzori Mountains Mountains National Park is definitely worth your visit. The park is a destination that will make a memorable and lasting impression on everyone who pays a visit.
Accommodation in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
There are many accommodation options in and around Rwenzori Mountains National Park that provide budget-friendly and luxurious lodges.
Equator Snow Lodge is a mid-range budget which provides comfortable rooms and beautiful views of mountains the park. It located outside the park entrance and has accommodations worth $70-80 per night for a standard room and $120-130 for an executive room.
Nyakalengija Rest Camp is the most popular budget option in the park and is located at the park entrance. It provides the basic accommodations in in dormitory styles, private Banda and camping facilities. Prices range from $10-15 for dormitories per night, a private Banda with a shared bathroom costs around $20-25 for a double occupancy per night (depending on the season).
Mountains of the Moon Hotel is one of the luxurious and highly expensive accommodation options and is located in a nearby town called Fort Portal. The hotel is a 2hour drive from the park comfortable rooms, a restaurant and a swimming pool. Prices range from $90-120 per night for a single standard room and $140-160 per night for a middle-range room and $200-240 per night for an executive room depending on the season.
Ruboni Community Camp is owned by the local Bakonzo community and it offers affordable and comfortable accommodation for the visitors. Prices range from UGX70,000-90,000 for a traditional Bakonzo tent, UGX100,000-120,000 for a safari tent and UGX20,000-30,000 for camping (per person and per night).
Please note that it is always a good decision to contact and make bookings with the desired accommodation site because the prices may change according to seasons and availability.