8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari, explore the best of Mt Rwenzori National park, Margherita Peak Africa’s third highest peak however the real beauty is in the climb up the Kilembe route, the forests and valleys the flora is diverse with trees and valleys of ferns.
Day 1: Kampala to Kasese
Depending on you location in Kampala or Entebbe, Country sights Tours and travel driver guide will meet you. He will brief you on 8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari. After briefing we now start our drive to Western Uganda passing through small towns and villages. We have brief stop at Equator for pictures then continue to Kasese where we have our lunch from. Check in at Hotel Margarita for dinner and overnight.
Day 2 Kalama Camp
We start by walking up the valley floor through tall forest trees of the Afro Montane Forest Zone. This is a steady climb with multitudes of birds and a chance of seeing blue monkeys scampering off through the forest. At times visitors may see troupes of 15 to 20 black and white Colobus monkeys as they swing through the tree tops. There are rare sightings of the L’Hoest monkey which are part of the Bukonzo cultural emblems and are protected by the virtue of the King or Omusinga or you may hear wild chimpanzee in the distance. There is wide variety of plant species from forest trees to bamboos thickets as you enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone which is steep climb with many high steps. In the wet season the bamboo zone is rather muddy and slippery making the going slow but not so bad if you are fit. However the atmosphere and the forest is fantastic as you climb to Kalalama Camp at 3,147 meters which is in the Heather-Rapanea Zone with many tall Heather tress and a good chances to see the ‘Rwenzori Turaco (Gallirex johnstoni) Family Turacos (Musophagidae) with is bright crimson wings.
Day 3 Kalama Camp to Bugata Camp
After an early breakfast you set off for our next journey of 8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari today you will bypass Mutinda Camp and continue up to Bugata Camp at 4,100 metres. The trail meanders up and over several small knolls along a ridge top then drops down the side of the valley before climbing again, and in doing so crosses several small streams and pass close to moss covered waterfalls. You then climb steadily along the side of a beautiful mossy river which tumbles down over the rocks under the Giant Heather trees whose trunks are covered in green moss with old man beards (Usnea lichen) hanging from the branches. The trail twists and turns as you climb up the deep valley, which has an enormous variety of plants and flowers. This valley is unique with many Giant Heather trees creating a beautiful atmosphere often shrouded in mist. The trail here is boggy particularly in the wet season but with a little skill you can step from tussock to tussock to make the going easier. We have put several boardwalks across the worst of the bogs and continuing to build more to make it a little bit easier. You cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass and everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias before climbing a steep section up to the Namusangi Valley (3,840 meters), which ends abruptly with sheer waterfalls and fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks. The Namusangi Valley is wide, with many ups and downs and crossing several bogs as the trail climbs steadily to Bugata Camp at 4,062 meters. Bugata Camp is situated way up Bamwanjara Pass high above Bugata Lake with views across Lake Kopello to Weismann’s Peak, which is often covered with snow then down the valley views of Lake Africa and Lake Kanganyika and the many small peaks towards Mutinda Camp.
Day 4 Bugata Camp to Hunwick’s Camp
Trek to Hunwick’s Camp via Bamwanjarra Pass. As you leave Bugata Camp you pass up a ridge then drop down slightly before ascending to Bamwanjarra Pass at 4,450 meters where we have a hut should the weather turn bad. From the pass on a clear day you get excellent views of the three main peaks as you enjoy the scenic views on our 8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari. The trail passes down the valley and around the edge of some bogs and thick ever green vegetation, moss. giant groundsel and lobelia. Here is possibly the best place in all the Rwenzori to observe the Malicite Sunbird as it feeds on the many lobelia flowers and a known breeding site. Farther on there is some steep sections before a steady climb up and over a ridge to Hunwick’s Camp which is situated on the top of a deep valley and has good views of Mt Stanley, Mt Baker, Weismanns Peak and McConnell’s Prong.
Day 5 Hunwick’s Camp to Marghertita Camp
From Hunwick’s we pass down and across the valley floor to Lake Kitendara which is very stunning with deep water and beautiful vegetation. From here you climb up Scott Elliott’s pass then up the ridge to Margherita Camp 4,485 metres which is situated between some huge rocks and offering some shelter from the strong winds. This is the very spot where the Duke of Abruzzi camped when making his climb to Margherita Peak in 1906. This is the climax of our 8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari as we reach our final destination
Day 6 Explore Mt Stanley
Wake up at 2am and catch an early breakfast before heading off to climb Mt Stanley at 2.30am. this is the happiness of our 8 Days Rwenzori Mountain climbing Safari. This is necessary as the weather has changed a lot and often even during the dryer season the mountain is closed in with heavy clouds and snow falls from 1 pm to 4pm and this happens within a short period of 10 to 15 minutes as the clouds rise up from the extensive Congo rainforests. During January and February 2017 clients were closed in and unable to walk during heavy snow storms which previously were not heard of during the dryer season and arrived back at Margherita camp well after dark with one group arriving back at 11pm totally exhausted. Due to this change in weather we have set a turnaround time of 10am so if you do not reach the peak before then you must turn around regardless of the disappointment in the interests of safety. Margherita glacier has also suffered with global warming and as the outer edges of the glacier recede the ice is becoming steeper with one section of about 200 meters more than 60% grade. Combined with this much of the blacker has melted underneath causing caves under the ice and as it get thinner eventually caves in. So is necessary that clients understand and take advice of where the guides suggest to pass.
For those clients with less mountaineering experience we suggest that you stay on Stanley glacier and climb up to a good vantage point on a rocky outcrop on the southern edge of Alexandra Peak to enjoy fantastic views over Congo and the lower mountain ridges
After ascending the peak at 5,109 metres you then pass directly down to Hunwick’s Camp at 3.874 metres
Day 7 Descend
Distance to Kiharo Camp 11km Time taken to walk 4 to 7 hours
From Hunwick’s Camp we start the day by climbing up a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong where you get the best views of all three peaks and Scott Elliott’s Pass before reaching Oliver’s Pass at 4,505 metres. The distance from Hunwick’s Camp to the top of Olivers Pass is 3km The trail then cuts across below Weismann’s Peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down thought Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elisabeth National Park.
If you wish to climb Weismanns Peak 4,620 metres from Olivers pass you may do so at an extra cost of $20 each. On a clear day you get fantastic views of Margherita and Mt Stanley, Mt Speke and Mt Baker.
After crossing the confluence the trail meanders down the valley to Kiharo Camp at which is situated in a deep valley with high cliffs and dense vegetation. On the way down the valley after each bog you will climb over a ridge of stones and earth which seems out of place but actually was pushed there by slow moving glaciers which eventually stopped moving, melted and left a pile of rocks and debris in front of where the glacier once stood.
Distance Kiharo Camp to the park gate 12.2km and another 2.8km down to Trekkers Hostel Time to walk 5 to 8 hours so those who need to connect to flights back to Kampala or travel on to other activities need to leave Kiharo early.