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10 Day – Hike to Rwenzori’s Margherita

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10 Day – Hike to Rwenzori’s Margherita

Shroud in mystery, mist and legend, the Rwenzori Mountains, Africa’s highest and most dramatic mountain range remains largely unexplored. Over 2,000 years ago Ptolemy the Greek astronomer and geographer called it the mountains of the moon. For Ugandans then and now, this has been the seat of the gods and the source of rain and thus the name “Rwenjura” meaning the rainmaker.

Your hike through this UN World Heritage Site will take you through a surreal world of extravagant wildlife and a botanical garden you will never find elsewhere. The trek will take you through tropical forest, afro montane, bamboo, heather, lobelia gardens, glaciers to the snows of the highest point Margherita Peak.

This is an 8-day trek but the safari is 10 days including a travel day at the beginning and end of the safari.

Highlights

– Summiting Margherita.
– Glaciers and snow on the equator
– Great panoramic views.
– Amazing wildlife like the three horned chameleon.
– Fairytale giant lobelia gardens.
– Diverse plant species.
– The friendships with other climbers

Summary Tour

Day 1 – Travel from Kampala / Entebbe.
Day 2 – Afro montane forests, wildlife and birds.
Day 3 – Bamboo forest, waterfalls, wild flowers.
Day 4 – Everlasting flowers, Weismann’s Peak.
Day 5 – Variety of bird species, sights of snow peaks.
Day 6 – Back to history, into Duke’s camp.
Day 7 – On top of Uganda – Margherita Peak!
Day 8 – Hiking back home.
Day 9 – Back to base camp.
Day 10 – Travel to Kampala / Entebbe.

Itinerary

Day 1 Off to the Mountains of the Moon

Start off from Kampala and head west into the land of the legendary Mountains of the Moon, the Rwenzori. The trip will take you through rolling tea plantations, and the Kibale Forest before you get to Fort Portal town. You have the option for staying here or moving on to Kasese. Fort Portal is at a higher altitude and good for altitude acclimatization at an elevation 1,480m (4,855 ft) as opposed to Kasese at 1,000m (3,280 ft).

Day 2 Into the Afro Montane Forest, Wildlife, Birds

Start off from Trekkers Hostel in Kasese heading to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) park entry post 2.2km away and at altitude of 1,727m. After briefing by park rangers, continue hike through the national park. Look out for wildlife, and a wide variety of bird species that make this place special.

As you go higher you may be lucky to see some of the wildlife like the black and white colobus monkeys, or the blue monkeys and even hear the chimps in the distance.

Today spend the night at Sine Camp 2,596 metres. You will be sleeping in wooden huts set between forest trees. Outside is a narrow ridge with a great view of the Afro Montane forest and a fantastic waterfall far below. There is an option of sleeping at Kalama Camp at 3,134 metres.

Day 3Bamboo Zone and Mystic Heather Trees

Get up early to a hot breakfast and hit the trail at 8.30am. Today’s trek enters the bamboo zone. In wet weather, this zone can be muddy, slippery and slow. The beauty around makes up for the slow and twisting trail as you climb higher through the unique landscape of plants and flowers. Abundant giant heather trees create a mysterious environment which adds to the charm of the climb. The trek ends in Mutinda Camp, which sits near a small waterfall. You will be staying here for the night. You can now wash, refresh and simply enjoy being in the mountains of the mountains. Or if you do have what it takes, climb up to the Mutinda Lookout which is one and a half hours up, and one hour down. You will be rewarded with great views of Kasese town and on a clear day, even Lake George in the savanna plains farther away.

Day 4Everlasting flowers, Weismann’s Peak

The day’s trek will take you hopping from tussock to tussock through the garden of everlasting flowers and giant lobelia in the Mutinda Valley. From here you will then move up a steep section to the Namusangi Valley. Through this section all the way to Bugata Camp, there is opportunity to see the red forest duiker, a sub-species only found in the Rwenzori Mountains. You will cross several bogs as you steadily climb. Take time off to enjoy the great views of the lakes far out in the valleys below, and a peek of Weismann’s Peak, which is often in snow. Finally on to Bugata Camp for a warm bath and a well-earned rest.

Day 5Malachite sunbirds, glacial lakes, snowcapped peaks

Start out at 8.30am after a hot breakfast. Today’s trail goes through nature’s garden of everlasting flowers, giant groundsel and giant lobelia. The garden is a favorite of the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, which is common and endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains. Climb out of the garndens and go higher to the top of Bamwanjara Pass. Here you will get a breathtaking panoramic view of all the main snowcapped peaks of the Rwenzoris. Take a break in a small shelter and enjoy the views. Next section is a step trek down to Lake Kacholpe and then on to Butawu Camp set on a ridge above River Butawu. From here you have a fantastic view of the snowcapped Mt. Baker.

Day 6Steeped in royal history to the Duke’s camp

You could call this a historic trek as you walk across small rivers, through beautiful landscapes up to the Scott Elliott Pass and then on to Margherita Camp at 4,485m.
In 1906, Italian Prince Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, the Duke of the Abruzzi, set up camp here on his way to the top of the Mountains of the Moon. His expedition, the first ever to the summit, had biologists, surveyors, a geologist and a photographer. From the ancient geographers who only dreamt of this moment, to the royal expedition that first camped here, you are in good company and history is on your side. The Duke named the highest peak after Italian queen, Margherita. That too is the name of the camp where you will be spending the night, in preparation for tomorrow. Yes, the summit day is tomorrow, so early to bed, early to rise!

Day 7On to Margherita Peak, the rooftop of Uganda!

This is the day every summit climber looks to. It is literary getting to the rooftop of Uganda. You will start out early and have a quick energy snack before beginning the climb at 4am. It is important to start early so you get to the peak before sunrise. The climb can be difficult especially if there is heavy snow. But your guides and porters will be at hand to give you a hand all the way.
Margherita Peak at 5,109 metres on Mt Stanley in the Rwenzori Mountains is Africa’s third highest mountain. Due to effects of climate change, climbing to Margherita has become technical because of the retreating glaciers that have exposed a number of crevasses. Even then, getting to the top leaves you with an exhilarating experience—you are surrounded by snow and glaciers on the equator right in the heart of tropical Africa! On a clear day, the 360 views are from another world and the sense of being alone on top of Uganda is breathtaking.
After summiting descend to Butawu Camp for the day’s rest. In case of bad weather (like blizzards especially in the rain season), you may have to take a break at Margherita camp.

Day 8Hiking with the Hyrax

After an exciting climb, give yourself a pat on the back with a late start to the day. Have a late breakfast and start out at 9am. You will climb up to Bamwanjara Pass on your way to the Bugata Camp. Take it easy because it is pretty slippery especially after the rains. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes and the wildlife—rock hyrax are common here. Tonight camping is in Bugata Camp, the last night in the Rwenzori Mountains, the Mountains of the Moon.

Day 9Back to Base Camp

It is time to say goodbye to Africa’s greatest secret and botanical garden. Enjoy the sunrise before breakfast and the trek back to base in Kasese. You will stop at either Kiharo or Samalira camp for lunch, and then continue on to the park gate. Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers will debrief you before you exit the national park. And then on to your accommodation.
Welcome back from the Mountains of the Moon, Mt. Rwenzori!

Day 10Transfer back to Kampala/Entebbe

This morning we recommend you rise early to take in the last sunrise of your time staying up in the Rwenzori Mountains. Transfer back to Kampala / Entebbe and to your flight back home.

Departure & Return Location

Kampala 

Accommodation

There are several options for accommodation offering different levels of comfort and pricing. These range from budget accommodation to mid-range and high end options. Sometimes, the choice of accommodation is influenced by the activities you are interested in taking. Contact us and we will work with you to choose your ideal safari accommodations within your needs and budget.

Included

Price Includes

  • Bottled water while in travel
  • Accommodation in approved facilities
  • Tour Guide
  • Entrance Fees to the parks, and applicable permits
  • All transportation in destination location

Price Excludes

  • Tips
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Room Service Fees
  • Any items not listed in the approved itinerary