The Rwenzori Mountains are the biggest mountain range in Africa, including six main mountains with peaks exceeding 4,500 m. of altitude: Mt. Stanley, Mt. Speke, Mt. Baker, Mt. Gessi (in the Congolese side), Mt. Emin Pasha. Mt. Luigi di Savoia. They are found along the border between Uganda and Congo for over 120 km. The highest peak is Margherita, 5109 m. on Mt. Stanley. It is named after the Italian Queen Margherita, who sponsored the first climbing expedition of the Rwenzori in June 1906, led by Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy the Duke of Abruzzi.
The name “Rwenzori” in the local language means “mountain of the rain”, for its rainy nature. The trekking and climbing of the Rwenzori requires endurance and physical fitness, at least some previous training. A part from this advice, the trekking does not require much of high tech equipment, just trekking boots and especially gumboots, since most of the trail areas are boggy (swampy areas). Only the last tract of the Margherita Peak climbing presents a glacier area and requires the use of rope and crampons. For the full list of the required equipment, please see the notes after the itinerary.
Day 1: Entebbe International airport to your hotel
On arrival at Entebbe International Airport you will be welcomed by our company representative and transfer you to the hotel for dinner and overnight at Cassia Lodge.
Day 2: Kampala to Kasese via Fort Portal Rwenzori Mountains
In the morning after breakfast you depart Kampala and head West wards to Fort Portal where you will have a stopover at Mountains of the moon hotel for lunch. Later on proceed through the Mubuku valley up to Kasese. While you relax in the montane atmosphere of the hotel, meet your guides and start arranging for the next day trekking. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Margherita.
Day 3 - Stage 1: From Nyakalengija (1600m) to Nyabitaba Hut, 2650 m.
After breakfast proceed to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park head quarters in Nyakalenjija, 1600 m. You receive the briefing from the officials and you wait for the preparation of luggage by porters.
The hike starts through the plantations and homes of the Bakonjo, the people of the Rwenzori. Follow the Mobuku River inside the mountain forest up to the first hut, Nyabitaba, 2650 m which is the arrival point for the day. During the day you might see the black and white colobus, the blue monkeys or hearing the chimpanzees, Rwenzori three horned Chameleon and the colourful Rwenzori Turaco. From Nyabitaba, you are facing on the North the Portal Peaks and in front Mount Kyniangoma. This day hike can take up to 4/5 hours. Hiking time: 5 hours - Habitat: montane forest – Altitude level: 2650 m. Dinner and overnight at Nyabitaba Hut.
Day 4 - Stage 2: From Nyabitaba Hut to John Matte Hut, 3350 m.
From Nyabitaba Hut take the trail that leads westwards to the Kurt Shaffer Bridge, which crosses the Mubuku River just below its confluence with Bujuku River. Here is where the proper “central circuit” starts, and you will take the right side (while you will descend from the left side). The vegetation zone is now the bamboo forest. You reach up to a steep rock which leads to Nyamuleju Hut, the beginning of the groundsel zone. Follow a swampy marshland full of extraordinary plants and giant lobelias. The arrival point for the day is John Matte Hut, 3350 m. where you have dinner and overnight. From this location you can enjoy the view of the snow capped peaks of Mount Stanley. Hiking time: 6 hours - Habitat: bamboo forest and groundsel zone – Altitude level: 3350 m. Dinner and overnight at John Matte Hut
Day 5 - Stage 3: From John Matte Hut to Bujuku Hut, 3900 m
From John Matte Hut you cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower “Bigo bog”, a grassy bog where you experience how to jump from tussock to tussock. After a rocky climb you reach Bigo Hut and enter the upper “Bigo bog”. From this extraordinary boggy valley you might have good view of the Mount Stanley. Finally you reach Lake Bujuku, then proceeding through a very muddy swampy area until Bujuku Hut, 3900 m. This is where the alpine zone begins and the grass becomes scarce and smaller. This day hike can take up to 5 hours. The hut is well positioned down the Mount Speke and on the trail to Congo. In front of the hut you can enjoy the best view of Mount Baker and Mount Stanley. Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours - Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 3900 m. Dinner and overnight at Bujuku Hut
Day 6 - Stage 4: From Bujuku Hut to Elena Hut, 4540 m.
From Bujuku Hut, after a muddy area, you start a steep climbing through a forest of giant groundsels up to the Groundsel Gully. A branch in the trail leads to Elena Hut, 4540 m, arrival point for the ones who intend to climb Margherita Peak. If you are only taking the central circuit, then the trail proceeds directly to Kitandara Hut. You walk through Scott Elliot Pass, 4540 m, the highest point during the central circuit, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views down the Bujuku valley, of Mount Baker, Mount Luigi di Savoia and Stanley just above. This is a steep, rocky trail which when is wet or icy can be very slippery. Have dinner, you rest at Elena Hut and ascend to the next level in the early morning before sunrise. Hiking time: 3- 4 hours - Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 4540 m. Dinner and overnight at Elena Hut
Day 7 - Stage 5 From Elena Hut to Margherita peak (5109 m) and descend to Kitandara Hut, 4023 m.
From Elena Hut you ascend the last tract of rock and ice which leads to Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley 5109 m. You might take about 3 -4 hours to complete the climbing. You need crampons, ice axe and rope as you walk through what remains of the glacier area of Mount Stanley. The peak was first climbed by Prince Luigi Amedeo the Duke of Abruzzi at 9.30 am on 18th June 1906.
The trail descends down to Upper Kitandara Lake and Lower Kitandara Lake, where is located Kitandara Hut, 4023 m. arrival point for the day. It can take approximately 3 hours walk. This is the best place for planning the slope of Mount Luigi di Savoia and Mount Baker. Hiking time: 6 hours - Habitat: glacier / alpine zone – Altitude level: 4023 m. Dinner and overnight at Kitandara Hut
Day 8- Stage 6: From Kitandara Hut to Guy Yeoman Hut, 3250 m.
From Lake Kitandara you climb to Fresh field Pass, a long flat of high alpine mossy glades, before descending the circuit among rocky and boggy areas. The panorama is dominated by the glaciers of Mount Stanley and Mount Baker. A rocky trail leads to Akendahi, Bujongolo and Kabamba rock shelters, where starts Kabamba valley before reaching Guy Yeoman Hut. This can take up to 5 hours. The hut enjoys a good panoramic location, nearby the river Mubuku and with views of Mount Baker. Hiking time: 5 hours - Habitat: alpine zone / groundsel zone – Altitude level: 3250 m. Dinner and overnight at Guy Yeoman Hut
Day 9: Stage 7: From Guy Yeoman Hut back to Nyakalengija-Kasese
Final descent back to Nyakalengija. The trial is attractive along the valley of the Mobuku and Kichuchu rivers, rich in plants and flowers of the heather zone before reaching the bamboo forest. See Kabamba falls on the way. Time to reach Nyabitaba Hut is about 4 hours. From Nyabitaba starts the 40 minutes trial to see Lake Mahoma and back to the hut for descending to the Park Head Quarter. The trial takes more 2 to 3 hours. At the finishing point your safari guides meets you and takes you to the lodge in Kasese or relaxation, dinner and overnight at Hotel Margherita
Day10. Transfer back to Kampala
After breakfast, you will check out and be transferred to Kampala via Mbarara with a stopover for lunch at Igongo Cultural centre. Another stopover will be made at the equator line for a great experiment! You will arrive in the evening and be transferred to the airport to readily catch your flight back home.
Required equipment for the central circuit:
Rucksack, sleeping bag for low temperature and sleeping mat, gumboots, water proof trousers, poncho or rain coat, heavy worm jacket, hand gloves, scarf and cup, one jumper, torch.
Required extra equipment for climbing the peak:
Crampons, snow gloves, snow goggles, climbing boots, rope and ice axe.
What can you hire from Uganda?
Most of the necessary equipment is rentable directly from the base of the Rwenzori. However, we kindly request you to communicate in advance what type of equipment you would like to rent in place or buy in Uganda, so that we will guarantee the availability.
What is included?
- Full board Accommodation
- Transport in 4x4
- Hiking fees
- Guides & Park fees
What is not included?
- International flight ticket
- Tourist Insurance
- Tips & Beverages