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9 Day – Conquering the Mountains of the Moon

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9 Day – Conquering the Mountains of the Moon

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rwenzori Mountains promise a memorable experience to hikers who take to conquer its eight days-seven night loop—a trail passing through the central circuit and through various vegetation zones. Shorter hikes are also available for those after a less challenging experience.

Rwenzori Mountains hold tropical glaciers that descend off the three peaks of mounts Baker, Speke and Africa’s third highest peak, Mount Stanley. You can be trekking in the tropical jungles and within just a few miles be battling the cold of glacial ice. In fact, there are five distinct zones of habitation generating a world of amazing biodiversity. At the base you have African savannah teeming with animals, above the jungle is the bamboo forest chattering with monkeys, the heath zone where lobelias have evolved into giants, the alpine zone where you will find plants unique only to the Afro-Alpine zone, and finally you will reach the summit which is wrapped in permanent snow and glaciers.

This is an 7-day trek but the safari is 9 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 – Transfer to the Rwenzori Mountain National Park via Fort Portal
Day 2 – Climb from Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba Hut (2,652m)
Day 3 – Hike from Nyabitaba Hut to John Matte Hut at 3,414 m
Day 4 – Hike from John Matte Hut to Bujuku Hut at 3,962 m
Day 5 – Hike from Bujuku Hut to Kitandara Hut, 4,023 m
Day 6 – Hike from Kitandara Hut to Guy Yeoman Hut at 3,261 m
Day 7 – Descend from Guy Yeoman Hut back to Nyabitaba Hut at 2,652 m
Day 8 – Descend from Nyabitaba Hut at 2,652m to Nyakalengija headquarters
Day 9 – Transfer back to Kampala

Itinerary

Day 1 Off to the Mountains of the Moon

Set 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 From Nyakalengija (1600m) to Nyabitaba Hut, 2651m Alt gain: +1051m

After breakfast proceed to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park headquarters in Nyakalenjija, 1600 m. Uganda Wildlife Authority park rangers will brief the team on the expedition and expectations for all. It is also at this moment that you get to meet the porters and rangers you will be trekking with.

Follow the Mubuku River through the forest, which is rich in plantlife and animals. Look out for the black and white colobus monkey or the blue monkeys. Other interesting forest residents to look out for are the three-horned chameleon and brilliant blue Rwenzori Turaco. The trek will ascend a steep ridge of glacial moraine to Nyabitaba Hut (2651m) from where you can see the Portal peaks and Mount Kyniangoma. Nyabitaba Hut is your camp for tonight.
Hiking time: 4/5 hours. Habitat: montane forest – Altitude level: 2650 m.

Day 3From Nyabitaba Hut 2651m to John Matte Hut 3505m Alt gain: +854m

From Nyabitaba Hut Start the trail descending to Kurt Shaffer Bridge and cross the Mubuku River. This trail can be slippery during the rains. Continue your hike along the boulder-strewn sides of the Bujuku valley through afro montane forest, bamboo and heather zones.

You reach up to a steep rock which leads to Nyamuleju Hut, the beginning of the groundsel zone. This is a good place to take a lunch break before continuing on through the marshlands. The final lurch is up a steep climb next to the Bujuku River and through a heather forest and finally to John Matte Hut at 3505m. From here, on a clear day you can enjoy views of the Stanley Plateau.
Dinner and camp is at John Matte Hut.
Hiking time: 6 hours – Habitat: bamboo forest and groundsel zone – Altitude level: 3505m.

Day 4From John Matte Hut 3505m to Bujuku Hut 3962m, Alt gain: +457m

After breakfast, start the trek by crossing the Bujuku River into the Bigo Bog also known as the Giant Lobelia Garden. This place comes off as a private garden in another world—it is cover by grass tussocks and giant lobelia on which birds perch. A boardwalk makes the trek across easier and more comfortable. The trek takes you out of the Bigo Bog climb to the Upper Bujuku Valley and on past the edge of Lake Bujuku.
The trek ends at Bujuku Hut (3962m) at the head of the valley between Mounts Stanley and Speke. This is also the beginning of the alpine zone. From here you have the view of Mt Baker and Mt Stanley, the latter being home to the Margherita Peak.
Dinner and camp at Bujuku Hut
Hiking time: 4 – 5 hours – Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 3962 m.

Day 5From Bujuku Hut 3962m to Elena Hut 4541m, Alt gain: +579

The route climbs the rocky Groundsel Gully and steep scree slopes to Scott Elliot Pass (4372m) for an unforgettable view back down towards Mount Speke and Lake Bujuku down the U-shaped Bujuku Valley. The climb finishes at Elena Hut (4541m) below the snowline of Mount Stanley.
Dinner and overnight at Elena Hut
Hiking time: 3- 4 hours – Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 4540 m.

Day 6On to Margherita Peak, the rooftop of Uganda!

From Elena Hut 4541m to Margherita Peak 5109m, Alt gain: +568
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. You need crampons, ice axe and rope as you walk through what remains of the glacier area of Mount Stanley.
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.
The peak was first climbed by Italian Prince Luigi Amedeo the Duke of Abruzzi at 9.30 am on 18th June 1906. His chief porter John Matte ascended the peak barefoot.
After summiting descend to Upper Lake Kitandara and Lower Lake Kitandara and on to Kitandara Hut at 4023m. It can take approximately 3 hours walk.
Dinner and overnight at Kitandara Hut
Hiking time: 6 hours – Habitat: glacier / alpine zone – Altitude level: 4023 m

Day 7From Kitandara Hut to Guy Yeoman Hut, 3250 m

From Lake Kitandara you climb to the Freshfield Pass (4282m Alt gain: +259m), a long flat spectacular spot carpeted by bright yellow mosses. From here you have great panoramic views of Mt. Stanley and Mt. Baker. The trails goes on to Akendahi, Bujongolo and Kabamba rock shelters then through the Kabamba valley before reaching Guy Yeoman Hut.

Impressive vegetation, mountains and rivers surround the Guy Yeoman Hut. You will have covered majority of the hike and will prepare to descend the following day.
Dinner and overnight at Guy Yeoman Hut
Hiking time: 5 hours – Habitat: alpine zone / groundsel zone – Altitude level: 3505m.

Day 8From Guy Yeoman Hut back to Nyakalengija-Kasese

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. Below Guy Yeoman, the trail follows the Mubuku down the cliffs of Karirupea going past Nyabitaba Hut and on to base camp at Nyakalengija. Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers will debrief you before you exit the national park.
Your guide will now transfer you to your accommodation for dinner and overnight.

Day 9Back to Kampala / Entebbe

After breakfast, you will check out and transfer back to Kampala / Entebbe.

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