RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
A Uganda Safari that features the Rwenzori mountain climbing adventure provides a memorable and rewarding experience but in order to have a smooth flow it should be well planned and every tour must be well prepared. The central hike circuit can take about six nights/seven days and then reaches an altitude of 14,000ft (4,267m) above the sea level.
Conditions on this mountain are quite challenging even to an experienced hiker as mountain Rwenzori is well known for its steep, unengineered, and slippery trails with frequent rainfall and cold temperatures, fog, muddy, steep terrain with a high altitude.
Despite this it’s worth a try due to the exciting experience you will attain. Its dry period includes July-August, December-February and so its relatively dry for inexperienced hikers.
At all seasons its recommended that one should have a rain gear, a good sleeping bag, a warm hat, pairs of gloves, heavy socks, gum boots, gaiters and a walking stick for easy balance and support are plus a basic first aid kit.
Porters stay around the mountain thus help visitors carry their heavy equipments and food, leaving one with a small pack, rain gear, warm clothes, camera, water and any other light luggage for an enjoyable experience.
One can purchase their own food and Rwenzori mountaineering service can provide cooking utensils and cooks to help in preparing it.
CENTRAL CIRCUIT TRIAL
Day 1: Ensure that you arrive at the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (R.M.S) & Rwenzori Mountains National Park offices located at Nyakalengija during morning hours in order to have enough time to hire hiking equipment and get booked for services of porters guides.
Hiking activities are set off from 5,400ft/1,646m at the park headquarters going past typical the Bakonzo “mud and wattle” homesteads. Gradually continue walking through the huge elephant grass upwards and via garden plots which takes about 40minutes to arrive at the boundary of the park.
This trail follows river Mubuku crossing through recent landslide areas that involve climbing over rocks and a bluff, before reaching river Mahoma within 2hrs 30min time. After crossing this river embark on a steep climb through the open bracken fern slopes & Podorcarpus Forest at 8,700ft (2652m) up to the Nyabitaba hut.
Climbing from Nyakalengija area to Nyabitaba takes an average hiker about 5-7 hours and the total elevation attained is 4,000ft (1,200m). Slow or armature hikers could take a much longer time, it is therefore advisable to set off from the park headquarters as early as possible to avoid trailing in darkness.
During this trip, you might hear chimpanzees sounds and might get a glimpse of the black and white colobus, blue monkeys plus the beautifully Rwenzori Turaco bird.
Day 2: For half a kilometer the trail starts at Nyabitaba Hut-West wards then drops steeply heading to the Kurt Shaffer Bridge. It cross below rivers Bujuku & Mubuku respectively and after turning on the right of the bridge, starts climbing up the central circuit anti-clockwise since the opposite direction is more demanding and risky.
The muddy slippery trail goes consistently up through a bamboo forest after the Kurt Shaffer Bridge,. After 1:30hrs, you will get to the most challenging and dangerous footing of the whole circuit according to many hikers. Since it has slippery boulder hopping;
You will reach out to the Nyamuleju hut with its accompanying rock shelter after 5hrs of walking from Nyabitaba and this may be a great stop over for yo night. This is the start of the giant groundsel zone and Lobelia, a unique vegetation type found no elsewhere in the world, except at Rwenzori.
You will have a 1hour walk through a challenging bog to John Matte hut (11,200ft/3,414m). It is full of unique plants and the slow pace at which one walks is a delightful chance to examine and photograph the unique environment. Reaching john matte takes 7 hours. To some hikers this is the most tiring and longest day of the entire circuit so an early start is recommended.
Day 3: You will leave John matte to cross the Bujuku River to enter the lower Bigo bog, and you shall experience jumping from tussock to tussock on a grassy bog. This trail is not only muddy but follows the left (southern) edge of lower Bibo bog until it finally reaches the round metal “uni-port” the bigo hut and its rock hard shelter.
There is a steep section past the hut that leads to the upper Bigo bog, in the last half of which, a boardwalk has been constructed. Someone may think it is an ugly intrusion, but it makes walking easier and prevents hikers from further damaging this bog. At the upper end of this bog is a beautiful narrow stream that can make a lovely stop over for your lunch.