Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the eastern slopes and glacial peaks of the 120km-long Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’, a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination whose significance as a source of the Nile was first alluded to by the geographer Ptolemy circa 150 AD. Rising from the Rift Valley floor to a wintry elevation of 5,109m, the Rwenzori supports large tracts of evergreen and bamboo forest, while the higher moorland zone is known for its other-worldly cover of giant heathers, lobelias and groundsels.
The 120km Rwenzori chain is regarded to be the legendary snow-capped Mountains of the Moon, described by Ptolemy in AD150. Reaching an elevation of 5,109m, it is also Africa's tallest mountain range, exceeded in altitude only by the free-standing Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro.
The distinctive glacial peaks are visible for miles around, but the slopes above 1,600m are the preserve of hikers, who rate the Rwenzoris to be the most challenging of all African mountains.
A variety of large mammals inhabits the lower slopes, but the Rwenzoris are notable more for their majestic scenery and varied vegetation. The trails lead through rainforest rattling with monkeys and birds, then tall bamboo forest, before emerging on the high-altitude moorland zone, a landscape of bizarre giant lobelias, towered over by black rock and white snow, looking for all the world like the set of a science fiction film.
998 sq km
On the Congo border close to Kasese.
The Nyakalengija trailhead lies off the Fort Portal road, 22km from Kasese. Transport can be arranged in Kasese.
What to do
The seven days/ six nights loop is a tough but rewarding hike taking in all vegetation zones bar the glacial peaks. Shorter hikes can be arranged. The high peaks should be attempted only by experienced mountaineers.
When to visit
Any time, but the dry seasons are December-February and June-August.
Where to stay
Hostel and campsite at the trailhead, basic hiking huts along the loop trail. Nearby Kasese has a midrange hotel, several budget lodgings, and a campsite.