Trekking in the Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains are one of the best trekking destinations in Africa. They are home to Mount Stanley, which at 5,109 metres is the third-highest mountain in Africa.
There are five other significant massifs, all of which are covered in snow year-round. There are nine lakes found in the valleys here, which are an important source for the River Nile.
The lower slopes have moorlands, bamboo forests and tropical forests, where species such as blue monkeys are found.
On the higher slopes, the spectacular glaciers are found amid a surreal ‘Alice in Wonderland’ landscape, filled with giant heathers, giant lobelias with bearded lichen hanging from them and colourful mosses: what’s more, the rare Rwenzori leopard is occasionally spotted here.
Two trekking circuits provide access to the Rwenzori mountains: the Central Circuit, which begins at Nyakalengija, and the Southern Circuit out of Kilembe. While the Southern Circuit was the route first followed (largely) by Professor Scott Elliott in 1895, it is the central circuit, pioneered by Luigi di Savoia in 1906, that for many years has provided the only access to mountains.
At Brilliant, we only organise treks for the Southern Circuit. This is because it provides the best experience of the landscape of soaring peaks and stunning lakes and glaciers, as well as rich flora and fauna found here.
The Southern Circuit is is also a longer route that makes it easier for trekkers to acclimatise.
Our local partners have opened trails in areas long closed to all but the wildlife, and work with local communities to understand the area and build strong relationships with the neighbouring Bakonjo villages.
The Rwenzoris were referred to as the ‘mountains of the moon’ by Claudius Ptolemy, the famous Greco-Roman mathematician, astronomer and geographer: when you gaze out at night at permanent glaciers aglow with reflected starlight, it is not hard to see why.
There are a number of different trekking and climbing routes ranging from one day to twelve days to suit your preferences.
During the treks, simple, healthy and tasty meals will be provided, and porters will help you with luggage. At night we stay at some beautiful campsites, where you can take in an unpolluted night sky ablaze with starlight.
The local trekking guides receive comprehensive general mountaineering training and specific ice climbing training. They are trained in mountain first aid and so can spot and respond to the first signs of altitude sickness. Rescue procedures are practised and reviewed regularly. Their equipment is well-maintained and frequently checked.
Since the trails opened in 2009, RTS has continued to share the benefit that tourism brings with local communities in the area. $5 from each climb cost goes towards local development projects, such as the construction of community trails outside of the national park to spread potential benefit of tourism, and the building of school classrooms in multiple locations.
For those who have a reasonable level of fitness and can handle long days of trekking through some fairly challenging terrain, the rewards of doing so in the Rwenzori Mountains are immense. You’ll see some of Africa’s most beautiful mountain scenery and otherworldly landscapes, all the while having the area almost to yourself.