Mountain Rwenzori National Park is located within the “Mountains of the Moon”, as Mount Rwenzori is called. Mountain Rwenzori is situated in Western Uganda in the East African Rift Valley and straddles also to the Democratic Republic of Congo and its conservation area known as Virunga National Park. The mountain is the third highest in Africa rising up more than 16,700 feet above sea level and its highest peaks rise above the clouds and are permanently snow capped. The Rwenzori Mountain ranges are higher compared to the Alps and they have glaciers which are one of the sources of the longest river on earth, the River Nile. Margherita Peak is the highest peak on the ranges making it the 3rd highest peak in Africa together with its twin peak, Mount Stanley, which is within the park. The 4th and 5th highest peaks, Mount Speke and Mount Baker, are also within the park. The mountain ranges were first brought to the worlds notice in CE 150 by Alexandrian geographical researcher and photographer, Pletomy, when he described a stunning mountain which he christened “mountain of the moon.” Later in 1899, English explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, was as spell bound as Pletomy when he beheld the ranges and christened them the “Cloud Mountains.”
The Rwenzori national park, which is the conservation area for the mountain, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers almost 1000 sq. km and strides across the districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibudyo. It includes most of the center and the eastern half of the mountain and is known for its beautiful plant life coupled with waterfalls, glaciers and a lot of other unique mountainous vegetation. The park has glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls and has been portrayed as one of the mainly attractive Alpine areas around the world.
How to get to the Mountain Rwenzori National Park.
The journey from Kampala to Kasese will take you about 5 hours and a half if you take the public means by bus. Most bus parks can be found in and around Kampala like Link Buses which takes that route. It could take you about that same time if you are travelling privately in your own car though a four wheel drive vehicle is advisable since western Uganda is mountainous. However you can take only about an hour and a half if you used a plane. Contact your tourism company to book a flight to Kasese. Your first stop will be Fort Portal from where you will travel south to Kasese. From Mubuku, it is 15 minutes in the north of Kasese; you can organize transport means after passing the Bugoye power plant to the gate. Porters, guides and other people to help you will be easily availed to you.
Accommodation in the Rwenzori.
Hotel Margherita is located at the foothills of the mountain some few kilometers from the town of Kasese. They offer commendable customer service and pride themselves in offering a full “Rwenzori experience”. You will enjoy quality accommodation which ranges from standard single and double rooms to executive and family suites which can take up to five people. They have a very relaxing ambience which includes a smooth green gardens with a breathtaking view of the Rwenzori ranges with all it beautiful alpine botany. The gardens are even equipped with children’s swigs and seesaws in the children’s play area. They also have a full stocked bar and restaurant that will serve you all your beverages and foods and if you still have energy to burn, you can spend the night at club rocky, their night club on the premises.
Rwenzori International Hotel:
Rwenzori International Hotel, 3km from the Kasese airstrip is located at the foot of the mountain ranges. It offers a range of accommodation from executive self-contained rooms to the single non-self-contained rooms and also has camping options with tents for those who prefer an outdoors affair. All rooms are furnished comfortably and equipped with a telephone and TV, mosquito nets and beddings provided on all the beds. Their restaurant also offers an assortment of affordable local cuisines. The bar is also stocked fully with a variation of beverages, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
Rwenzori International Hotel also offers its guests a health and fitness center with gym, steam bath, sauna and body massage. They also offer touring services to guests like hikes to the Rwenzori Ranges and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
They also have a grass badminton court, a concrete tennis court, a laundry service and parking on premises.
Katara lodge is situated 16km from the Katunguru gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge is very keen on environmental conservation that all the buildings in the lodge are built out of renewable material like wood and grass thatch. The swimming pool is of salt water so as to reduce reliance on chemicals and most of their electrical energy is solar powered. They provide accommodation in grass thatched cottages, built in wood, that were hand crafted and woven into the hillside by the local community and have a spell binding view of queen Elizabeth and the Rwenzori ranges, farm lands and beautiful bird species. The water is heated by solar thermal energy. They provide both regular and family cottages.
Equator Snow Lodge:
Located at the foothills of the mountain, the lodge is an up market lodging and is perfect if you prefer the finer things. Below the lodge is the roaring Mubuku River that will act as a soundtrack to your relaxing mind. It has beautiful décor embedded with artefacts from around the country. The cottages are built with round river rocks which makes them unique and rare world over. The cottages are self-contained and each has a fire place to keep you warm in those cold nights. Each cottage also has a balcony from which you can view the spellbinding horizon with the ranges before you. They also provide breakfast and lunch in the restaurant with a fully stocked bar.
Tropical Savannah Guest House:
Tropical savannah guest house is based along the Mbarara-Kasese road in Kasese town and is a good option for travelers going to Kasese on a budget. They offer free Wi-Fi and the rooms are equipped with the usual amenities like showers, bathrooms and flush toilets, flat TV screen with satellite channels, wardrobe, mosquito net, adequate ventilation and full length windows. They also have a fully stocked bar to quench your thirst with both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages plus a restaurants that serves a complimentary breakfast daily and local dishes at lunch. They also have laundry services, parking, tour services, and car hire services.
Things to do in Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda.
Rwenzori Mountain is an underrated gem that is largely undiscovered by many. The scenery on the mountain has been called some of the most beautiful on the planet! Mountain Rwenzori is covered in different types of vegetation and climate which will leave you spell bound as you scale its heights. It will not be unlike climbing into heaven. On the foothills of the mountain is farmland with crops such as coffee which is a very important cash crop in the country. From there you will behold beautiful land terrain and plant life of sub montane vegetation in the Afro-montane zone covered by luxurious tropical evergreen forest with a high richness in color and species. When you finally reach the top, you will behold the majestic snowcapped peaks that will leave you breathless and teary eyed.
Uganda as a nation is teeming with a richness in bird life and the ranges are no different. The Rwenzori Park is a dwelling to 217 species of birds and 17 of them can only be found in Rwenzori which justifies UNESCO labeling it a key Birding Area. At about 1800 meters, the variety will leave you captivated including the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared Owl, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Strange Weaver, Archers’ Robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, White-starred Robin, Montane Sooty Boubou, Slender-billed Starling, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed Sunbird, Barbets, Golden-winged Sunbird, Greenbuls, IIladopsis, Apalises, Crimson wings and Flycatchers.
You can also enjoy day hikes through the forests at the foothills as you enjoy unique activities like fishing with your hands in streams akin to Hugh Glass in the revenant.
You will have plenty of opportunities to witness the locals at the foothills of the mountain of the moon carrying out their cultural lifestyles and activities like cultural dances and if you are lucky, you might even get some lessons on drumming and dancing. You will also visit the Ruboni village where you will learn about the lifestyles of old of the forefathers of the mountains of the moon.
Lounging on the foothills:
After a tiring day of awe and wonder, you will be able to cool off in any of the scenic lodgings around the mountains of the moon, take a soothing shower and behold the beautiful scenery. At night you will be able to hang out in the starlit night sky around a bonfire as you listen to tales of the mountains of the moon.