Guide to Climbing the Rwenzori Mountains

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Rwenzori Mountains

Rwenzori Mountain climbing is without doubt the main highlight in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Each year, thousands of climbers travel to conquer the Margherita peak on Mount Stanley at 5109m. The Rwenzori Mountain climbing is perfectly carried out starting from scenic routes/paths and the notable routes that lead climbers to the Margherita peak include the Central Circuit and Kilembe trails. The two trails take hikers via glacial lakes, lush valleys, alpine plants, bogs and lastly, you get to snow at 5109m.

The Central Circuit trekking trail is the most preferred trails and often explored by experienced/senior hikers. Before you hit this trail to conquer the Margherita peak on Mt Stanley (5109m), you must have altitude challenge & acclimatization. Climbers gather at Nyakalengija offices for briefing and start trekking from 1646m to Nyabitaba hut (2652m).

Nearly 8 days will be needed to have a round hiking adventure on the Central Circuit and from Nyabitaba hut, trek to John Matte hut on 3414m. All these altitudinal ranges are conquered on different days and from John Matte hut, proceed to Bujuku hut which is on 3962m; from Bujuku trek again 4kms to Elena hut where you can finally arrive at Margherita peak on 5109m. When descending, the additional huts for stay include Guy Yeoman hut at 3261m 8kms from Elena hut.

Kilembe trails

The Kilembe trails offer amazing Rwenzori Mountain climbing treks on the southern part. The trekking journey along these trails begin from Kilembe, Kasese taking you through Nyamwamba valleys, scenic glacial lakes and also joins the Central Circuit at Lake Kitandara. En-route sleep can be had at Kitandara hut and while at Kitandara, you will have the best view of Mt. Baker peaks.

Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains, a block mountain range, is suitably lying on Uganda border with the D.R. Congo. This mountain block spans up to 4800kms, 65kms wide and 120kms long. Margherita is Rwenzori’s highest point and generally, this block mountain formed after a earth’s crust shift which led uplift of rock composing of granite, gneiss and quartzite.

Today, thousands of climbers confine here to conquer the 6 of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges which the deep gorges divide. The 6 notable Rwenzori Mountain massifs include Mount Gessi, Mount Speke, Baker, Mount Stanley, Emin and Luigi di Savoia. These are all impressive with glaciers and white snow peaks which is why this range to be referred to as the Mountains of the Moon. The Rwenzori Mountain ranges are also significant source of water for Nile River, one of the world’s longest rivers.

When to travel to hike Rwenzori Mountains

The dry season is without doubt the best period to go hike the Rwenzori Mountains. Each year, the 2 significant short dry seasons to mark on your calendar while planning for Rwenzori climbing safari start from June to August and secondly, the other phase begins from December to February. Very low rains are experienced during these short dry season and even if it does rain, usually, it occurs during afternoon hours when hikes have already started.

The wet months are often avoided considering the challenges trekkers face hiking muddy bogs of steep slopes and slippery trails. Note, prepare for your trek on the Rwenzori Mountains-do as much exercise as you can to make yourself fit enough to conquer this block mountain.

Things to carry for Rwenzori Mountain climbing-Uganda

The key items you must have for the Rwenzori Mountain climbing in Uganda include waterproof hiking boots, hat, insect repellents, gloves, first aid kit, backpack, good camera, warm cloths, sleeping bag, body belt, head lamp,  high energy giving snacks, trekking poles, hiking/trekking pants, rain jacket, ankle gaiters,

Places to stay

At the base of Rwenzori Mountains, the best places to retire for the night include Mihunga Safari Lodge, Ruboni Community Camp, Hotel Margherita/Equator Snow Lodge. The existing huts to spend a night along the trails include Nyabitaba hut (2652m), John Matte hut on 3414m; 3962m-Bujuku hut;  Guy Yeoman hut at 3261m, Elena hut.

Access to the Rwenzori Mountains-Uganda

The Rwenzori Mountains which straddle in the Western districts of Uganda; Kasese, Bundibugyo and Kabarole, is reachable via Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara to Kasese or Kampala through Mubende-Fort Portal. Or save time by taking a chartered flight from Entebbe airport (EBB) to Kasese and be driven to the base of Rwenzori Mountains.

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