gorilla safaris

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

A trip into the Rwenzoris is an exhilarating and rewarding experience but one, viagra sales illness which must be well planned.  The key to an enjoyable visit to “be prepared!” The central circuit hike takes six nights/seven days and reaches an altitude of 14, viagra sale prostate 000ft (4,267m) above sea level.  The conditions on the mountain are a challenge to even an experienced hiker.  This mountain is re-known for its un-engineered, steep and slippery trails and frequent rain.  Rainfall and cold temperatures, bogs, mud, steep terrain and high altitude make it a challenging trip.

Never the less it is exciting! You need to try it! Since during much of the year mud, rain, mist, and wind occur daily, adequate clothing (and a mental attitude!) for these conditions as a must.  The periods of July-August and December-February are relatively dry and for unexperienced hikers, the best seasons for trek.  During any season, raingear, good sleeping bag, warm hat, gloves, heavy socks, gumboots, gaiters, and a walking stick for balance (and to probe the mud) are recommended.  A basic first aid kit is a necessity.

Porters will be carrying your heavy equipment and food, leaving a small pack with raingear, warm clothes (on higher sections), camera, water bottle, snacks and lunch.  Purchase your own food (in Kasese or Kampala).  Rwenzori Mountaineering Service (RMS) can provide cooking utensils and cooks.

The Central Circuit Trail


Day One:

Plan to arrive at Rwenzori Mountains National Parks and the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS) offices at Nyakalengija in the morning so as to have ample time to rent equipment and be availed with guides and porters.  Hiking begins from the Park headquarters 5,400ft (1.646m), walking past typical “mud and wattle” Bakonzo homes and gradually moving upward through elephant grass and garden plots.  It takes approximately forty minutes to reach the park boundary.  The trail then follows the Mubuku River, crossing recent landslide areas (to be negotiated carefully), and involves climbing over rocks and bluff, before reaching the Mahoma River in about two and a half-hours.  After crossing the river there will be a steep climb through open bracken fern slops and Podorcarpus forest up to Nyabitaba hut 8,700ft (2,652m).  Total time for an average hiker from Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba is about 5 – 7 hours, and total elevation gained is 4,000ft (1,200m).  Slower hikers could take considerably longer, so insist on leaving park headquarters before noon to avoid being on the trail after dark.

During this part of the trip you may be able to hear chimpanzees, and sometimes you can see Black and White Colobus and Blue monkeys behind the hut, and catch glimpses of brilliantly coloured Rwenzori Turaco (a bird of the treetops).  Across the valley to the north of Nyabitaba hut lies the rocky and largely unclimbed Portal Peaks, which rise above 14,000ft (4,627m).

Day two:

From Nyabitaba Hut the trail leads westward for a half a kilo metre, then drops steeply to Kurt Shafter Bridge, crossing below the confluence of the Bujuku and Mubuku rivers.  By turning right to the bridge you begin to climb the central circuit anti-clockwise since the clockwise direction is much more difficult and adds considerable danger for you and your porters.  After crossing Kurf Shaffer Bridge the muddy, slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest.  After one and a half hours you encounter an area of slippery boulder hopping which some hikers consider the most difficult and dangerous footing of the circuit.

After five hours of travel from Nyabitaba, you reach the hut at Nyamuleju and its accompanying rock shelter.  If you had a late start or know that there is a large group ahead of you at the next hut, you might consider spending the night here.  On a rare clear day Mts. Stanley and Speke can be seen from the top of the rock near the hut.  Nyamuleju also marks the start of the giant lobelia and groundsel zone, this remarkable vegetation type is found nowhere else in the world except high-altitude tropical African Mountains.  The one-hour walk to John Matte hut (11,200ft (3,414m) is through a challenging bog, full of extra ordinary plants, and the slow pace can be a delightful chance to examine and photograph this unique environment.  Typical time to reach John Matte from Nyabitaba is about 7 hours.  Some hikers consider this to be the most tiring and longest day of the circuit, so an early start is important.  The loss of altitude to Kurt Shafer Bridge means the total elevation to be gained on this day is about 3,000ft (915m).  Hikers who feel they have reached their limits by this point should consider John Matter a reasonable stopping point.  You can just enjoy the unique vegetation in the bog and the great view, then the following day begin your return to Nyabitaba.

Day Three:

Leave John Matte Hut to cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower Bigo bog, where your first real experience of jumping from tussock to tussock on a grassy bog begins.  The trail is muddy and follows the left (southern) edge of lower Bigo bog until eventually it reaches the round metal “uniport” The Bigo Hut and its rock shelter.  A steep section past the hut leads to Upper Bigo bog. In the last half of this bog, a boardwalk has been constructed.  Through some may think it an ugly intrusion, it makes walking easier and prevents the hikers from further damaging the bog.  A beautiful narrow stream at the upper end of this bog makes a good lunch break.  An hour and a half beyond the upper bog, and after climbing through drier ground and criss-crossing the river, you reach lake Bujuku.  The southern end of the lake is in a majestic setting, with Mt. Baker to the south, Mt. Stanley to the west, and Mt. Speke to the north.  The trail route along the lake’s northeastern shore crosses the worst mud on the trip.  Beyond the north end of the lake is a rock shelter called Cooking Pot and a short distance further is Bnujuku Hut 13,00ft (3,962m), favourably located for parties climbing Mt. Speke (which requires technical skills and special equipment).  Time to reach Bujuku from John Matte is typically 3–5 hours, and the elevation gained is 1,800ft (560m).  But the long stretches of bog, and the mud along the lake make this another challenging day.  The shaded location and frequent mists can make Bujuku Hut quite cold.

If one moved around on a nature walk, the chances of seeing Red duikers are high, and at night, calls of the Rock hyraxes are common.


Day Four:

From Bujuku hut leave directly to newer trail which rises and falls twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss draped Groundsel vegetation 14,345ft (4,372m) to Scott Elliott Pass.  At the steepest section is a short strong ladder after which aright hand branch will lead to Elena Hut 14,700ft (4,430m).  This is a steep, rocky trail which when wet or icy can be slippery.  Continuing straight, and a few steps below the pass, there is a sheltered spot for a break; from here, there is a second trail to the right to Elena Hut.  Elena is the base camp for climbing 16,763ft (5,109m) to Maragharita Peak in the Mt. Stanley complex, which requires an additional day or two and can only be attempted with an ice axe, mountain boots, crampons, ropes and prior arrangements with RMS guides.  The circuit trail continues to the left over Scott Elliot Pass and enters an alpine zone of sparse low vegetation and stark rough boulders more familiar to high altitude climbers from northern latitudes.  If the weather is bad here (rain, snow and wind can occur in any season) the conditions for “hypothermia” are ideal.  Do not delay your decent towards Lake Kitandara.  As you leave the pass, you may enjoy spectacular views northward of Maragharita Peak, Elena and Savoia Glaciers, and Mt. Baker 15,889ft (4,843m) towering above you to the east (left) of the trail.  Having dropped a few hundred feet in elevation from the pass, you cut below massive rock walls at the base of Mt. Baker, Here, dramatic “impact craters” have been caused by large rocks falling from above, and your guide may caution you again loud noises! Rising and falling, the trail descends past Upper Lake Kitandara through thick mud to lower lake and Kitandara Hut 13,200ft  (4,023m).  This lovely site is surrounded by towering peaks, but the sun sets early and the nights can be cold. Time to reach Kitandara Hut from Bujuku Hut usually takes 3-5 hours.  The elevation gain to the pass from Bujuku is 1,400ft (425m?), and because Scott Elliott is the highest point so far, some hikers will be slower due to greater effort required at these altitudes.  Watch carefully for signs of altitude sickness.

Day Five:  An early start is advisable to avoid overheating on the steep but lovely hour-long climb to the Freshfield Pass. Viewing westward on clear days leads into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and northwards, Maragharita and its glaciers still dominate the horizon.  Freshfeild is a long flat traverse through beautiful high alpine mossy glades (and more mud) until after a half-hour, when the trail begins the circuit’s long two-day descent.  Mist or rain can make tracing the trail difficult, and the first one kilometer here can be very slippery.  Rock Shelters at Bujongolo and Kabamba are optional overnight stop-overs but it is best to push on through the seemingly endless mud to newly constructed Guy Yeoman Hut 10,700ft (3, 261m).  Some hikers make the Kitandara-Guy Yeoman trip in 5 hours, but any stops to enjoy the pass, bad weather on descent, and the slow conditions in the last two hours of deep mud can make this a much longer day, which some visitors consider as difficult as day two.


Day Six:

Hikers should begin their journey back early, so as to get to Nyabitaba Hut before dark.   In any case the path from the Guy Yeoman is quite difficult in most spots.  Helping each other and descending very slowly facing the slope instead of facing outward is recommended, especially as you approach Kichunchu where the trail parallels and twice crosses the Mubuku River mostly in deep mud, until the last few kilometers of good dry trail.  This follows the ridge down Nyabitaba, which completes the circuit.  Typical hikers make Guy Yeoman to Nyabitaba in 5 hours.  Should you decide to continue to Nyakalengija it is another two or three hours depending on the condition of your knees and your desire to reach a comfortable bed and bath!  Be especially careful about vines and brush and resist the urge to hurry out of the mountains.  Late evening walking can be good for watching birds and you may sight the occasional Blue tailed Monkey.  Sharp eyes can catch a glimpse of the brilliant green but changeable Rhinoserous Chameleon.


Day Seven:

Descending to Park Headquarters can take 2-3 hours.


Basic Information

Access:  By road: From Kampala via Mbarara to Kasese, or from Kampala through Fort Portal and then 75km south on the Fort Portal/Kasese road.  The park is 25km from Kasese town.

By air:  Chartered planes are available from Entebbe/Kampala to Kasese and then by road.

There are a variety of accommodation facilities in Kasese town (both upper and lower market).  RMS operates accommodation facilities-huts with bunk beds along the central circuit.

Health and safety on the trail
The high altitude and cold wet conditions of the Rwenzori Mountains can adversely affect inexperienced visitors.  The following are ailments, which may occur:
Hypothermia, Dehydration, Altitude sicknesses, AMS (Acute mountain sickness) HAPE (High altitude pulmonary edema), and HACE (High altitude cerebral edema).

Good behaviour at the huts and on the trial is appreciated

  1. Accept the Park’s limit of 16 persons per hut per night.  Delaying your first departure a day may mean less congestion at huts and a much more pleasant trip.
  2. Don’t litter the park with non-burnable or biodegradable items like tins, plastic and silver foil.  Personally collect these things and make sure you or your porters take them out of the park.
  3. Please use the latrines for all body wastes.
  4. Respect others in the huts by sharing space, stoves, talking quietly (no radios).  Crowded huts can be much more pleasant if basic courtesy and politeness is expressed.
  5. Observe the prohibition of wood fire.  Making fires using local wood is prohibited in the park.  Use your own paraffin stove or gas or charcoal provided.  Please be considerate to your porters by bringing the minimum equipment.  Extra personal gear means heavier loads or extra porters, which is bad for the porter but also for the environment.
  6. Minimize damage on trails by following your guide closely-avoid making new paths.  Each time a hiker makes anew route the paths get wider and more vegetation turns to mud.
  7. Ask your guides on how to conduct yourself.


Mountain Rwenzori National Park Accommodation


Hotel Margherita: Basic Hotel in Kasese town with 45 rooms. Well located for visits to the Rwenzori mountains.
Costs for East African Residents : USD 365
Non residents : USD 480
Ugandans Ushs 350,000
Ugandans Ushs 350.000,
Cost for trekking on the Central Circuit for 7 days, including Accommodation, park fees, guides, 2 porters, rescue fees and fuel. Extra time on the Mountain will incur further charges