Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda
Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda mountain climbing safari tours in Rwenzori Mountains national park, when to visit, where to stay, attractions & Safari activities in Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda, when to visit, accommodation and history / background of the park. Rwenzori Mountains national park is located in Uganda which is found in East African region on the African continent just slightly above the equator line on the geographical co-ordinates 00o 22’N 29o57’E. Rwenzori Mountain national park lies 398 km or 6-hour drive away from Kampala city the capital of Uganda in the south western district of Kasese. Rwenzori Mountain national park is boarded by Democratic Republic of Congo in west as it lies on the boundary between Uganda and D.R. Congo, Bundibugyo district in the north, Kanungu district in the south and Kabarole in the north east, the savannah plains of queen Elizabeth national park and eastern escarpments of the western arm of the great east African rift valley in the east. This park covers about 996 sq. km of mountain Rwenzori.
Mountain Rwenzori is located in the Albertine rift valley on the boarder of Uganda and D.R. Congo. In Uganda, this Rwenzori mountain covers the districts of Kasese, Kabarole, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko spanning a distance of about 120 km long and 65 km wide. Mt Rwenzori was formed as a result of an uplift due to movement of the tectonic plates in the rift valley. This movement caused an upward thrust of the old basement rock complex from the surrounding plains hence forming a stiff rugged mountain range. Mt Rwenzori is made up of igneous rocks that were thrusted upwards during the formation phase, the igneous rocks form the steep and rugged profiles of mount baker, Stanley and portal. Mt Rwenzori experiences a variation in temperature given its variation in height.
The area below 2000m above sea level experience temperatures between 25-30oC, areas between 2000m-3000m above sea level have their temperature in the range of 15-20oC, areas between 3000m-4000m have their temperatures varying between 0-10oC and areas above 5000m have temperatures ranging between 0- -10oC. The highest peak of the Rwenzori mountain is Margherita at 5109m above sea level and it’s the third highest on the African continent only behind to mt. Kenya and mt. Kilimanjaro. Mt Rwenzori has five distinctive overlapping vegetation zones which include savannah grassland zone below 2000m above sea level, afro montane forests zone between 1800-2800m above sea level, bamboo forest zone between 2500-3300m above sea level, heather zone between 3000-3800m above sea level and afro alpine moor land zone between 3500-4500m above sea level. With all these variations in temperature and vegetation, mt Rwenzori becomes a sanctuary for a variety of wildlife and this includes 217 bird species with 19 Albertine rift endemics, 70 mammal species and a variety of vegetation species
The mysteries surrounding mt Rwenzori started captivating European medieval geographers as early the 1st-2nd century AD and in 150AD, an ancient Greek- Roman geographer called Cladius Plotemy wrote of a mountain deep in the heart of Africa was the source of the mighty river Nile, he named this mountain as “Mountains of the Moon”. As time passed, early geographical explorers took up a task to discover the source of the longest river in the world and in 1888, Henry Morton Stanley successfully became the first white man to see MT Rwenzori, he added it on the world map on 08th may 1888 naming it Ruwenzori which is a local Bakonzo word which means “Rain Maker”. Rwenzori national park was gazetted into a national park in 1991 and in 1994, it was added among the World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization. Between 1996-2004 the park experienced a lot of insecurity rising from rebel groups like M23 rebel group, Allied Defense Forces that had made it their hide out place but all of these have now been flushed out of the mountain forests especially on the Ugandan side making it peaceful and enjoyable to climb. In 2009, mt Rwenzori national park was added among the Ramsar Sites.
RWENZORI MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK AT A GLANCE........!
MOUNTAIN RWENZORI NATIONAL PARK
Welcome to “The Mystical Challenge”
Park at a Glance:-
Name: Mountain Rwenzori National Park
Location: Continent- Africa, region- eastern Africa, country- Uganda, district- kasese, direction- west of kampala city uganda’s capital.
Geographical co-ordinates: 00o 22’N 29o57’E
Year of designation: 1991
Responsible Governing body: Uganda wildlife authority
Elevation of mt. Rwenzori National Park: highest point is margherita peak at 5109m above sea level
Climate of mt. Rwenzori National Park: tropical savannah climate experienced in low lands below 1000m, tropical rainforest climate experienced in areas between 2500m-4000m
Attractions in mt Rwenzori National Park: mt Rwenzori ranges and peaks like mt baker, Stanley and speke and margherita peak, glacial features like lakes and rivers lake bujuku, kitandara and ireen and river mubuku, other attractions include includes 217 bird species with 19 Albertine rift endemics like the Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori nightkjar 70 mammal species like the forest elephants and buffaloes and 5 distinctive vegetation types found at various altitude levels
Activities in mt. Rwenzori National Park: mountain climbing, nature walks, community encounters, birding,
Accommodation in mt. Rwenzori National Park: equator snow lodge, mihunga safari lodge, sandton hotel kasese, springs international hotel kasese, ruboni community camp, Rwenzori turaco view campsite, tours holiday inn, uhura 50 hotel and snow view hotel
Access to mt. Rwenzori National Park: the park can be accessed by both road and air transport.
Travel distance to mt. Rwenzori National Park: 398km or a 6-hour drive away from Kampala city Uganda’s capital.
Attractions in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
With an altitude of 5109m above sea level, Rwenzori mountain is Africa’s third highest mountain only exceeded by mt kenya and Kilimanjaro in Kenya and Tanzania respectively. Rwenzori is also home to Africa’s fourth and fifth highest peaks. On MT Stanley block, is peak Margherita which is the highest peak standing proud at an impressive height of 5109m above sea level, and is snowcapped throughout the year. Margherita peak was named by Duke Abruzzi after the Queen Margherita of Italy after his expedition to this splendid peak in 1906. Rwenzori mountain also has many glacial features such as lakes like Lac du Speke, lake bujuku and the kitandara lakes as you climb towards its peaks. These are formed as a result of glaciation and also existence of massive valleys up in the mountain. On a clear day these peaks can be spotted from as far as Kabarole giving you a one of kind and memorable view.
Birds in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
With a count of about 217 bird species, 19 of which are endemic to the Albertine rift, mt Rwenzori national park is any birder’s destination. Some of the birds to look out for while in this park include;
The Rwenzori turaco has a body length of 45cm and an average body weight of 211-256g and has a monkey like “chk chk chk” or “ik ik ik krowng” call sound
Blue headed sunbird
The blue headed sunbird has a body length of 12-14 cm and an average weight of 10-16 grams. This species makes a relatively quiet twittering with a series of loud chips that come after every 3-4seconds
Regal sunbirds have a body length of 10-11 cm and an average weight of 5-8 grams. The adult male regal sunbird has its head and underparts colored in an iridescent golden green dark wings and tail and also a boldly marked red and yellow breast and belly but the adult females have dull olive upper parts and yellowish, faintly streaked underparts. These birds make a sound of repititions of rapid twittering with rising and falling notes. Red throated alethe – The red throated alethe has an average body length of 12cm with a body weight of 30-45grams. Male red throated alethe have a black crown encircled by broad grey line from forehead through supercilium to nape. The red throated alethe make a monotonous and noisey single downslurred “piiiyuu” sound
Kivu ground thrush
The kivu ground thrush is also called the Abyssinian ground thrush. It has a body length of 19-20 cm and an average weight of 43-65grams. The male kivu ground thrush bird is pale olive brown from cheeks to hind crown and underparts, with darker wing-coverts and double white spotted wingbars. It makes a voice call that has a low concealed perch with a deep twilight.
Dusky and Shelly’s crimsonwing
The dusky crimson wing birds have an average length of 11cm and average weight of 14 grams. The males have their heads in red nape grey with dark crimson red upper parts but the upperwings and tail blackish grey with the side of the neck to chin, throat and underparts being dark grey. This species makes a call voice of a soft “tzeek” or “tsit” sound and also a soft trilling “geegeegeegee” sound
The Rwenzori nightjar has a cholate brown drapled plumage and it has a male nightjar body length of 22-24cm or 9ich with body weight 43-55g while the female nightjar weighs between 41-57g. the male Rwenzori nightjar white spots on its four primaries and also its tail edge is white. The female nightjar is buff colored spots on its four primaries. The Rwenzori nightjar makes an “ank ank ank” sound call that is followed by a high pitch whistle of “peeeee, pee-uuu”
This is a small, active black and white flycatcher like bird with dark bluish black underparts, a white stripe along the wing and black thighs, the Rwenzori batis has also glossy bluish black breast band in its underparts. Both the male and female Rwenzori batis look alike athough the males have red eyes while the females sometimes have orangey red eyes. The young ones are also similar to adults except that their plumage has a more rufous cast. This species has a length of 11-12 cm and an average weight of 8-15.5 grams. This bird habituates in the afro montane forests at an altitude between 1340-3300 m.
This bird species has a dark reddish brown plumage, grey head, redlegs and bills with a rufous grey under part and brown iris. The younger handsome francolin has a duller plumage but in adulthood both male and female birds look the same with a wing spans of up to 35 cm long.
The dwarf honeyguide has an average body length of 12cm with the male weighing in between 11-15g and female weighs between 12-13.5g the dwarf honeyguide has a stubby bill. Both the male and female dwarf honeyguide have olive, green and grey and grey color with a white mark on loral area. The dwarf honey guide makes a “tuutwi” sound call
Vegetation in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Mt Rwenzori has been described by UNESCO as the Africa’s Botany Big Game, this simply due to presence of some of the rarest vegetation covers in the world. Rwenzori national park has five distinctive vegetation types that keep on changing with the rise in altitude. These vegetation types include the following.
This is a vegetation zone characterized by high temperatures usually between 28-35oC for the biggest part of the year, there is usually short rainfall seasons and long dry spells, the savanna vegetation zone has open grasslands with short scattered trees. The open grasslands form an eco-system with a complete food chain from producers to primary consumers to secondary consumers/predators to decomposers and scavengers. The producers usually are made up of grass and trees, primary consumers are made up of browsing and grazing animals like impalas, zebras and cows. Secondary consumers are made up of all predators that consume the primary consumers or herbivores, the predators can be lions, leopards and jackals. Decomposers/ scavengers. These dispose off whatever has remained off after the predators have consumed their prey. Decomposers can include termites bacteria fungi and scavengers include marabou stocks, hyenas. The savannah vegetation zone is found below 2000m above sea level on the Rwenzori mountain.
Montane forests cover the lower slopes of the mountain Rwenzori, the montane forests are characterized by hard wood trees species like the African mahogany- This tree is also called khaya or I dont know tree. It belongs to the khaya genus. This tree is a very large tree towering up to 65m tall with a straight trunk and grows in an area with fertile soils. This tree species is highly sought after by loggers due to its fine wood which is very beautiful for furniture making. The montane forests exist on the lower slopes of Rwenzori between 1800-3000m above sea level.
The bamboo trees have a hollow stem, certain bamboo tree species can grow very rapidly growing up to 91 cm in a single day. bamboo trees rarely flower and some species have been recorded to flower once in a period of over 65 years and when they do flower they usually die off. The bamboo forests are found between 2500-3500m above sea level on the Rwenzori mountain,
Tree heath and bog
Tree heather can also be referred to as heather and have a variety of species counting to 4250 known species. Heather can grow in infertile and acidic soils. Heather tree species usually have hermaphrodite flowers and these flowers have their petals in various shapes like narrowly tubular petals, funnel form petals and widely un shaped petals. Examples of tree species under heath include cranberry, blueberry, and huckleberry. The heather and bog zone is found between 3500-4000m
Hagenia rapanea scrub and Afro-alpine moorland.
Afro- alpine moorland has a diverse wildlife consisting of marshy deltas, open montane grasslands, lakes, peat bogs, enclaves of high elevation forests, snow fields, giant rosette plants and various species of lobelias. This vegetation zone can be found between 4000-4500m above sea level on the Rwenzori mountain. With all these present, it safe to say that this park is any botanist Disneyland!
Mammals in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The park is a habitat to a wide variety of mammal species. Some of the mammals that have been recorded to be existing in this park include
The forest Elephants
These are relatively smaller than their cousins the bush elephants. The forest elephants have an average height of 2.5m or 8.2ft with 900kg or 1980 Ib as average body weight their tusks are longer and narrower than the those of the bush elephants growing up to 1.5m or 5ft and weighing between 45-100Ib or 23-45 kg. this is because they need these tusks to navigate through the thick undergrowth in the forest jungles where they habituate.
These are close relatives of humans alongside gorillas and orangutans, there are two species of chimpanzees, Common chimpanzee species and the Bonobo species, Rwenzori national park has the Common chimpanzees’ species. An adult Common chimpanzee can weigh between 40-60 kg with a height of 1.6 meters or 5ft3inches while an adult female can weigh between 32-47kg with a height of 1.3 meters or 4feet3inches. Common chimpanzees have coarse black hair except on their toes, face, fingers, palms of hand and the soles of their feet. The chimpanzees have a firm grip because their thumbs and big toes are opposite to each other. These chimpanzees reach puberty stage between 8-10 years and they have a life span of up to 40 years in their natural habitat, this can increase to up to 50 years of age in captivity. The chimps have a gestation period of 8 months, these chimps live in groups called communities ranging between 15- 150 members and each community is led by a dominant male called an Alpha male.
Black and white colobus monkeys
These monkeys have a black colour with a strip of white colour on the side of their body, limbs and around their face, these monkeys live in groups of 5-15 members led by a male, their weight ranges between 4-14 kg, they have a body length of up to 75 cm or 30 inches. The black and white colobus are herbivores primates and they have a gestation period of 4-6 months,
Giant forest hogs
This belongs to the pig family and is considered the largest of all wild pigs. The forest hogs have extensively black hairs on the surface but the smaller hairs that lie near the skin of the hogs have a deep orange color. The hairs of the forest hogs tend to become less pronounced as the animals grows to old age. These pig species have tusks protruding out of their mouths but these tusks are smaller than those of warthogs but bigger than those of bush pigs, these tusks have a length of 35.9cm or 14.1in in adult male forest hogs. When running this animal will lift its tail and direct it towards the direction to which its running to. It has a body length of 1.3-2.1m or 4ft3in -6ft11in and also an average shoulder height of 0.75-1.1m or 2ft6in-3ft7in. the body weight of these hogs can range between 100-275kg or 220-606ib. female giant forest hogs are usually smaller than their male counter parts.. The giant forest hog lives in groups called sounders with one adult male and usually one female and its offsprings.
These monkeys have a short, dark brown coat with a chestnut color across its back and a dark under belly. They have a pale moustache with light grey cheeks. their body length ranges between 32-69 cm, with a long hooked like tail that has a length of 48-99 cm, adult males weigh up to 6 kg while adult females can weigh up to 3.5 kg. the L’Hoest monkeys live in groups with many females and only one male which stays temporary with the group for mating. They have a gestation period of about 5 months and they maintain an herbivorous diet.
Rwenzori red duikers
The Rwenzori red duiker is a small antelope found in the mountain Rwenzori region this duiker has an average weight of 15 kg and a shoulder height 45cm with small horns that are about 8cm long. the Rwenzori duiker has a rufous coat that is light at the underbelly and darker at the back. Some of these animals like leopards are very rare to sight and elephant droppings are usually seen indicating these animals’ trails.
Culture in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
On the peripherals of this park, are the Bakonzo and Bamba people. The Bakonzo or Bamba or Bambuti people are generally short and dark skinned people who live on the lower slopes and plains that surround mt Rwenzori in the districts like Kasese and Bundibungyo. According to population census results of 2014 census, there are 850,646 Bakonzo in Uganda hence representing 0.025% of the country’s population. The Bakonzo people are closely related to the Nande people of eastern D.R. Congo in their ways of living and both the Nande and the Bakonzo are occupying the slopes of the Rwenzori mountain.
Origin of the Bakonzo
Majorly, there are two theories that can explain the existence of the Bakonzo. One theory suggests that, the bakonzo migrated from mt Elgon led by kintu who is believed to the first Muganda with the rest of Baganda people and moved west wards but unlike the Baganda tribe of people who decided to settle on the shores of Lake Victoria, the Bakonzo continued migrating west wards and finally settled on the lower slopes of mt Rwenzori because the place had the same climatic conditions just like mt Elgon where they had come from. their migration is believed to have occurred between 1000AD -1300AD. The other theory that explains their existence suggests that the Bakonzo have never migrated from any other place as they have lived only in this region because it is believed that the first Bakonzo emerged from the caves of mt Rwenzori and settled on its slopes then intermarried each other to give birth to the entire Bakonzo community.
Circumcision and Marriage among the Bakonzo
Bakonzo carry out circumcision of the boy child as sign to mark transition from childhood to adulthood, initially the circumcision practice was carried out after long intervals of between 15-18 years and this meant that even boys as young as 5 years had to be circumcised because the next phase of circumcision would arrive when they are already mature and they needed to be circumcised in order to get married as girls would only be married to circumcised boys. In recent times, circumcision can be done by anybody, anytime and anywhere unlike long ago where there were rituals to followed. Long ago, circumcision among the bakonzo, circumcision had to be done by the bamba as it was a taboo for a mukonzo to circumcise a fellow mukonzo. Just like many other African societies, when it came to courtship and marriage among the bakonzo, the parents of the children had to do the scouting for a good suitor for their child.
When a child was born, other families with young children that would want to have their child marry a child from this family brought gifts to the family with a new born child as a way of showing their interest in the new born child, the parents of the new born child would carefully examine the gifts brought to them from other families to determine a family that would potentially take their child when time came for marriage. This therefore meant that there was no courtship done by the young couple before marriage was conducted. Courtship could be done by men who had the potential to marry a second wife as they had to look for the second wife all by themselves. This was all possible since polygamy was allowed in the bakonzo culture. Virginity was highly treasured and girls that conceived before marriage were killed.
During marriage, the boy’s family had to pay bridal price and this consisted of mainly goats and an animal skin and a digging stick. The digging stick symbolized the girl’s labor force that has been lost by the bride’s family, while the animal skin was to replace the one she had used as she was growing up and in case of a divorce, all the bride wealth paid by the boy’s family had to be returned, and this made it difficult for divorces to happen as the bride’s family would not want to return the bride wealth they had attained from their girl child’s marriage.
Naming among the Bakonzo
When it comes to naming of children, the Bakonzo are unlike other African cultures that name their children using clan names, for the Bakonzo, naming is done following the child’s birth positions in the family. The Bakonzo have a total of 13 names for boys and girls that are born by one wife, Boys have 7 names given to them following their birth positions and these are; 1st born is named Baluku/ Mumbere, 2nd born is named Bwambale, 3rd born is Masereka, 4th born is Kuule, 5th is named Thembo,6th is named Mbusa and 7th is named Ndungo. The girls have 8 names and they are 1st born is Masika, 2nd born is Biira, 3rd born is Kabugho, 4th is Mbambu, 5th born is named Ithungu, 6th born is named Kyakimwa, 7th born is Nziabake, and the 8th girl is called Bulubasa. in case the man has more than one wife, the same names will be used by the other wives for their children.
This means that in a polygamous family, there can be 2 or more Balukus’ or Masikas’ in case when two wives give birth to their first born children as boys or girls, this also means that a man can have 2 sons from different mothers when both of them are being called Baluku while a woman can only have 1 Baluku or Masika. Besides naming following the child’s birth position, the Bakonzo can also name their children depending on the situation existing in their communities or families for example in case both parents were virgins by the time of conception of their 1st born, he or she will be named Nzanzu or Kanyere, another scenario is when a child is born when both its grandparents either maternal or paternal are still alive will be named Kasoke for a boy child and Musoki for a girl child.
Also when there is change in the sex of the new born child from the sex of the previous child, the Bakonzo will name the new child Muhindo if it’s a boy and Mbindule if it’s a girl. The birth of twins brought a lot of happiness to the family which the father proudly bragged about during social events like in drinking places and the twins were given different names from the names that we have already talked about regardless of their general birth position in the family but are rather named according to their 2 special birth positions, the one who is born first is called Nguru and the one who is born last is called Ndobya, the child who is follows the twins immediately is named Kitsa, whether a boy or girl while the one who follows Kitsa is named Kamalha mindless of its sexes. The bakonzo have a title for their twins which is “Abahasa” their mother is called “Nyabahasa” while their father is called “Isebahasa” or “Salongo”. When a woman gave birth among the Bakonzo, she was not supposed to sleep in her marital bed until the bleeding had stopped, but when it came to Nyabahasa, the story didn’t end only at not sleeping in her marital bed, when the mother of twins or Nyabahasa declared she was ready to return to her marital bed, there was a ritual that had to be performed before she could return to her marital bed and it was called Oluhasa.
The oluhasa involved construction of a small temporary hut in the family’s compound and inside this hut, the nyabahasa was to have sexual intercourse with the isebahasa’s oldest nephew and this was fine by the isebahasa because it was done to ensure that the twins have a healthy life and to prevent them from dying at a tender age. The entire community looked forward to this ceremony as it was held amidst great feasting by the entire community present. Due to the presence of many people feasting and jubilating and who are aware of what’s happening inside the hut, the nephew may even fail to have sexual intercourse with the mother of twins so he would be exchanged with another nephew to complete the ritual.
Religion among the Bakonzo
The bakonzo believed in 2 supreme gods ie Kalisa and Nyabarika. Kalisa was depicted as a half man like god with one arm, leg, eye, half a nose and half mouth but the structure of the Nyabarika god is unknown. The Nyabarika god was very powerful and welded powers over life death, ability to bare children or not, famine and good harvest while the Kalisa god was majorly for hunting powers. This therefore meant that these two gods had to be appeased by the bakonzo in order to have success in their way of life as hunters and farmers.
Many small sized huts for the gods were constructed and in these huts sacrifices of animals and food stuffs were offered to appease these gods, these huts are believed to still be in existence in the areas of Nyamugasani. As of today, the bakonzo are predominantly agriculturalists and have managed to use the fertile soils of the mountain to grow crops like maize and bananas. This however, has led to increased occurrences of landslides during rainy seasons within this region especially in Kasese as more and more mountain vegetation is cleared to give way for agriculture to take place in the upper slopes of Rwenzori
Activities in Rwenzori Mountains national park.
For any activity to be carried out in this park, a separate park entrance fee has to be paid at the park offices and this fee is 35$ foreign nonresidents adults while children 5$, 25$foreign residents adults while children 5$, 15000ugx east African citizens adults while children 2500ugx, 3000ugx local university students and high school students and 1500ugx for local primary pupils.
Mountain climbing. Rwenzori being the third highest mountain in Africa, presents an opportunity for mountain climbers to try and conquer this thrilling adventure to the summit of the mountain. There are two main climbing routes.
- The central circuit trail. This is a 7-8day climb to the Margherita peak and back. The central circuit trail gives both thrill and fantastic views of wildlife varieties in the park like bird species, vegetation cover and incredibly beautiful crater lakes in the valley or gorges on mt Rwenzori to hikers who take on this daring challenge which is also quite manageable. The circuit has various huts that have been constructed in different areas to provide warm shelter to climbers to rest and refresh for the journey ahead and also a warm place to spend the night at amidst the cold temperatures.
Day one. Nyakalengijja – nyabitaba hut
Day one starts off with a briefing at the Rwenzori mountaineering services center about how the entire hike will be conducted, the route which you are going to use is made known to you and the resting places along the route are also clearly mentioned as well as all the dos and don’ts. After the briefing, you proceed to Nyakalengijja and now the climb starts off officially, from here you move through the communities of the bakonzo people and you will be able to observe their way of life as you will see them go about their daily chores. You will now reach the Rwenzori national park gate where you will be received and registered before you continue with your hike.
Day one will also take you through the thick afro montane forests of mt. Rwenzori as you will now be between 2000-3000m above sea level. While here, please enjoy the view of various bird species habituating in these forests like Rwenzori turaco, handsome francolin, cinnamon cheasted bee-eater, strange weaver and long eared owl and animal species like L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, duikers and occasionally seen forest elephants. Day one takes you through a stretch of 8km to Nyabitaba hut. Dinner will be served here and you will have an overnight stay here as well as you refresh for day 2.
Day two. Nyabitaba- john matte hut.
Day two kicks off with breakfast being served at Nyabitaba after which gear up and start scaling up again. You will move to the Kurt Shafer bright located on the confluence of Mubuku and Bujuku rivers. After the Kurt Shafer bright, you will proceed through a vegetation zone with a mixture of afro montane forests, bamboo forests and rocks covered by the wet and slippery moss. While in this zone, you will still be able to sight or hear the twittering of various forest bird species and other animal species that habituate within the area. You will now arrive to Nyamulejju rock shelter which used to serve as a night camping site for early climbers but today, it will be your stop over spot for a lunch break.
While here please look out for the breath taking view of Mount Stanley and Speke especially when there is clear weather. After your lunch break, you will continue scaling up through the alpine forests to the john matte hut where you will have your dinner from and also spend your 2nd night here. For those who are tough hearted and thrill seekers, the john matte hut is located very near lake Bujuku so you can decide to take a cold shower or swim in it and it’s so refreshing and reinvigorating especially after the day’s climb. At john matte hut you can have a glimpse of glory in form of the Margherita glacier in between Mount Stanley and Margherita peak on clear visibility. This marks the end of day two. Day two takes you through a stretch of about 11km.
Day three. John matte- Bujuku hut.
Day three begins with having breakfast. After the breakfast, the journey to the top continues and it will now take you through the bigo bog area. The bigo bog is a swampy area in the mountain valleys which contains the giant lobelias, being a swampy area it was the hardest part of the trek up for early climbers as mobility was very limited but this is all now in the past as walking boards over the bigo bog were constructed to make it easy for climbers to cross the area.
This also came with a chance for climbers to take time appreciate the beauty of the forever flowering groundsels and also the giant lobelias. After a steep hike further, you will be welcomed to lake Bujuku that will give you a splendid view of mount Baker, Speke and Stanley all at the same time on clear visibility. You will continue to the Bujuku hut where dinner will be served and have an overnight stay. Day three takes you through a stretch of 5km.
Day four: Bujuku – Elena hut.
Day four starts off with having breakfast at Bujuku hut then proceeding through the upper bigo bog and then further continue through the steep slopes of lake Bujuku on its western end leading you to Scot Elliot pass which is 4372meters above sea level. As you continue on your way up, you will pass through more upper swamps then a beautiful ground gully, you will go over the steep side of this ground gully with the help of a metal ladder. You will now come to a junction with two passes, the pass on the left, takes you through scot Elliot pass and it goes down to lake Kitandara.
The trail pass on the right leads you to Elena hut via a steep ridge on the large boulders of Mount Stanley. When you decide to go to Elena hut, you will meet it on the rocky part of Mount Stanley, while here, you will feel the cold breeze of mountain Rwenzori as you are now at the highest mount of the Rwenzori mountain and this also gives you a front row seat to have a direct view on clear visibility of mount baker and Speke which are beside Mount Stanley. Dinner will be served and have a night stay here bringing your fourth day of adventure to a close. Day four takes you through a stretch of 5-7 hours of hiking
Day five: Elena hut – Kitandara hut
Day five begins with having a very early breakfast at around 02:00hrs then prepping for the day’s hike and this involves putting on your warmest water proof jackets, head socks, warm hand gloves, harnesses, head lumps and packing your sunglasses in your back pack. You will hike to the top following the Stanley plateau and also through Stanley’s steep slopes which will require you to climb with the help of climbing ropes. You will now arrive on the Margherita glacier and when you arrive here, the guide will teach how to use crampons and an ice axe to aid your mobility through the ice.
You will move through the glacier to the Margherita peak on the summit of Mount Stanley which is the highest point of Rwenzori mountain at 5109m above sea level. While at the summit, you will have a sweeping view of the entire Rwenzori surrounding on clear visibility lake Ireen and mount Speke. Have a short break and photo moments to memorize your victory over the Rwenzoris forever then you will start descending back to Elena hut for a lunch break, this is now followed by another descend later in the afternoon to Kintandara via the scot Elliot pass and this descent gives you one of the most beautiful scenic views of the Rwenzori mountains. When you finally arrive at Kitandara hut, dinner will be prepared and served and you will have an overnight stay here bringing yet another fully packed day of adventure and happiness to a dramatic end. This day takes you through a stretch that leads you from 4563m to the peak at 5109m and then descends back you to 3979m.
For a climber who doesn’t wish to go all the way to Mount Stanley, day four and five are usually combined by taking you via another trail from Bujuku hut straight to Scott Elliot pass. This pass is a bit rough but only for a short stretch then it returns to easy all the way up to Kitandara hut.
Day six: Kitandara hut- Guy Yeoman hut.
Kick off the day with a satisfying breakfast then proceed through the mount baker base but you are required to take caution as the trail is somehow slippery but navigable, the trail continues through the steep headwall that makes a continuation of the mount baker base on the southern side of mt Rwenzori coming to a fresh field pass. From here the descend continues through a muddy patch leading you to the Bujangolo rock shelter base camp. This camp at Bujangolo played host to Duke Ambruzzi on his historic Rwenzori expedition in 1906. Finally, you will arrive at Guy Yeoman hut which is located on the banks of river Mubuku. Dinner will be served and an overnight stay will be done here closing yet another of this great expedition. Day six leads you on yet another stretch of about 5-7 hours of hiking bringing from 3979m above sea level to 3505m above sea level.
Day seven: Guy Yeoman- Nyabitaba- Nyakalengijja
After breakfast being served, you embark on yet another descend through the bamboo forest on a slippery and muddy path that requires to take extra caution as you navigate the vertical muddy or steep rock path to Nyabitaba. On arrival to Nyabitaba hut, you will have a lunch break after which you will continue to your final mountain Rwenzori descend to Nyakalengijja where your journey to the peak began from. This descend takes you a minimum of 8-10 hours to finally bringing the entire quest to an end.
- The kilembe mine trail. This trail starts from Kilembe cobalt mines and heads through the nyamwamba valley as it ascends it way to the top. This trail can be described using the journey plan below.
Day one: Nyakalengijja – Sine hut,
Day two: Sine hut- Kalalama camp (3147m) – Mutinda camp (3688m)
Day three: Mutinda camp – Bugata camp (4062m)
Day four: Bugata camp – Butawu camp (3974m)
Day five: Butawu camp – Margherita camp (4,485m)
Day six: Margherita camp – Margherita peak (5109m)- Butawu camp (3974m)
Day seven: Butawu camp – Bugata camp
Day eight: Bugata camp- Kiharo camp (3460m)
Day nine: Kiharo camp – Rwenzori park offices
Trekking the Rwenzoris requires a bit of prior preparations so as to have the best experience. Some of requirements needed include the following.
You should plan to climb Rwenzori mountain between January, February and march as it usually dry during these months hence good for climbing due to clear visibility and at least low rainfall amounts. It can be very hard to climb during rainy season as some parts of the trail become so boggy that mobility is limited and very strenuous
You should be in a good health condition as it is straining to hike up the mountain Rwenzori. In case you have health problems, there are 2 other short trails on the mountain which also offer a very satisfying experience so don’t just seat back and let others enjoy, you can also still take part in the thrill of scaling up the mountain. You should also find out if you have a sickness for high altitudes since the climb involves you scaling to high altitudes. In case you have altitude sickness, please don’t give up on taking this adventure of a life time but simply ascend slowly and as you continue upwards you are advised to take a day off to acclimatize to high altitude and then proceed with the adventure up.
When planning to climb the Rwenzoris please take out a travel insurance to cover you especially when you want to go all the way to the top.
You will also need to sign a non-disclaimer form at the park entrance before you start climbing and also provide contacts of whom to contact in case of an emergency.
Other things you may need include a water proof back pack with extra water proof and warm clothes, sunscreen, mosquito repellants and simple snacks like dried banana chips and biscuits, water bottle as you need to drink a lot of water to keep rehydrated like two litres per day, you shouldn’t worry about where to get water from as porters collect and boil for you drinking water every evening and by morning time trust me it will be really chilled for you to sip on. Your foot ware can be gumboots or wellington boots as the English call them but high ankle boots with good gaiters can do a good job as well. Remember that on this journey you will pass through boggy areas so you need boots that keep out water.
Services of climbing the Rwenzori mountain are provided by either Rwenzori Trekking Services and Rwenzori Mountaineering Services in Uganda. These companies can arrange various Rwenzori trekking expedition packages. A 7-day trek of Rwenzori with Rwenzori Mountaineering Services can cost about 1100$ and this price includes services like: park guides used while on the trek, all porters used to carry your much needed requirement, trekking gear like helmets, crampons head lumps, and safety ropes, accommodation and food while in the mountain. An amount of 35$ per day for 7 days will also be needed to be paid at the park gate in cash and separate from the $1100. This package price also excludes transfer costs from point of entry into Uganda to the mountain and any accommodation or meals outside the mountain trek. You are advised to carry extra money to tip the potters and the park rangers for appreciating their services, you can tip each of them any amount you feel like depending on your appreciation of their service rendered to you but tipping isn’t mandatory so no one should coerce you into tipping if you don’t feel like doing so.
Besides getting thrilled by this captivating adventure, improved body physical fitness and viewing various species of wildlife. Anybody who treks the Rwenzori mountain should feel proud because they have contributed towards the conservation of this magnificent wildlife habitat, improving the livelihoods of local residents like porters who are paid to ferry all the much needed climbing requirements up the mountain.
Nature walks in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori National Park has 2 nature walk trails that offer shorter treks on the Rwenzori mountain besides the central circuit trail and the Kilembe circuit trail that are used for longer treks that go all the way up to the top of the Rwenzori mountain. For anyone who cannot make it to the top, these 2 shorter nature walk trails can offer an amazing and fair trade off for the missed opportunity to go all the way up to the top as you will be able to trek the Rwenzori mountain in just 1-3 days only unlike the longer trails which will require you a minimum of a week to scale the up to the higher peaks. The 2 shorter nature walk trails are Mahoma nature trail and Kazingo nature walk trail, both of these nature trails are operated by Uganda wildlife authority hence they are open to all tour operators unlike the longer circuit trails that are privately operated ie Rwenzori Mountaineering Services and Rwenzori Trekking Services and can only be accessed by tourists that have booked through these two companies that run these trails.
These walks take you through the montane forests up to lake Mahooma, Buraro chimp forest passing through Kichwamba communities and arrive to Karangura ridge. While on this trail, you will be able to have a spectacular view of the Baker and Portal peaks from a distance when there is clear weather and don’t miss out to the various bird and mammal species you may come across. Nature walks in Rwenzori can be carried out during both day and night time. Day time walks cost 30$ for foreign non-residents, 15$ for foreign residents and 1000ugx for east African residents while night time walks cost 40$ for foreign non-residents, 20$ for foreign residents and 20000ugx for east African residents
Besides the joy obtained in seeing the diverse wildlife of Africa’s botany big game and improving on your personal fitness, carrying out nature walks helps in furthering the conservation efforts in the Rwenzori mountain and also improving on the economic status of local residents like guides
Community walks Rwenzori Mountains National Park
This has been made possible courteous by the Ruboni community. During this walk, you will be able to see how the local residents go about their daily lives at the foothills of this giant mountain from farming to food preparation, black smith activities, use of medicinal herbs to heal ailments, weaving and an energetic performance from the Bakonzo dance and drama. Have a one on one chat with the eagerly awaiting local bakonzo elders who will take you on a literature journey through telling you stories about their dramatic ancient past and how their culture has evolved up to where it is toady This community walk will not disappoint because on a clear day, just look out for the elegant and proudly standing Baker and Portal peaks above the horizon and the various birds and tree species on your way through the community.
Tourists can engage in activities under the Ruboni community walks like village tour at 15$ per person, hill hikes, waterfalls walk and forest hike at 15$ per person each walk, traditional dance 5-10 people at 50$ and an overnight hill walk at 100$ per person. These activities can be carried out throughout the year. When you engage in any of these invigorating and mind blowing activities, not only will you have an everlasting impression imprinted in you forever but you will also have successfully contributed towards the preservation of this authentic culture and also improve on the social economic status of the local residents as the money you pay is used in improving social service structures like local health centers and local schools within the Rwenzori region and also payment of wages to local residents involved like local tour guides.
How to get to Rwenzori Mountains national park
This park can be accessed using both air and road transport means
There are two major routes
Kampala- Mbarara- Bushenyi- Kasese route. This route leads you to a journey of about 450 km or 7-hour drive passing through Queen Elizabeth national park to Kasese town. Nyakalengijja on your way to the park center from is 17 km or less than an hour-drive off Kasese Fort portal road. The road between Kampala and Kasese is fully tarmacked and in good condition.
Kampala – Fortportal- Kasese route which is 398km or 6-hour drive to Kasese town then proceed to Nyakalengija 25km north of Kasese town.
You can still use public means to go to Kasese by buying a local bus ticket which can cost between 30000-35000ugx from Kampala to Kasese. The total journey time from Kampala- Kasese can be 10 hours depending on the bus company operator you are to use. For example, Post bus service is reviewed by many as the safest but it’s a bit slow, another bus company which operates on this route is link bus service. Bus services to Kasese from Kampala can be accessed from Kisenyi bus terminal in Kampala.
Chartered flights from Entebbe international airport and kajjansi airfield are available to kasese landing at kasese airstrip or mweya airstrip.
Aerolink club has daily flights operating from Entebbe international airport to kasese airstrip or mweya airstrip the flight usually departs in the morning but timing may change depending on the flight routing. Aerolink club uses an 11 seater and 2 flight crew Caravan aircraft equipment that is highly comfortable. The cost of this flight varies from 230-260$ one way per person depending on the seasonal demand.
Fly Uganda. Fly Uganda operates private flight charters around Uganda from Kajjansi airstrip. The minimum number of passengers required is 2 passengers. The flights usually depart from Kajjansi airfield in the morning hours but this is subject to flight routing and demand. The cost for a flight to Kasese with fly Uganda ranges about 290$ per person one way
Air-Serve Limited and Mission Aviation Africa (MAF) also do private charters to kasese.
Accommodation while in Rwenzori Mountains national park
Inside this park there are no lodging facilities except for camping huts for climbers, this therefore means that for anyone visiting this park, accommodation can only be got outside the park in the neighboring towns of Kasese and Fortportal. These towns have accommodation facilities to fit all tourist budget types from luxury to mid-range and low budget facilities.
Luxury accommodation facilities in or near mt. Rwenzori National Park
|Name||Location||Number of guestrooms||Nature of guestrooms||Other amenities and services||Prices|
|Equator snow lodge||Outside the park||4 cabins||All guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Prices begin from 135$|
|Mihunga safari lodge||Outside the park||5 cabins||All guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
Mid-range accommodation facilities near mt. Rwenzori National Park
|Sandton hotel kasese||Outside the park||All guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Prices begin from 103$|
|Springs international hotel||Outside the park||All guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Prices begin from 64-69$|
Low budget size accommodation facilities near mt. Rwenzori National Park
|Uhuru 50 hotel||Outside the park||All guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Prices range from 37-58$|
|Rwenzori turaco view campsite||Outside the park||3 bandas and 1 dormitory||Some guestrooms are self-contained with hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Price range from 15-35$|
|Ruboni community camp||Outside the park||bandas||Some bandas are self-contained while others are not self-contained||Restaurant
|Prices ranges from 5-25$|
|Tours holiday inn||Outside the park||15 guest rooms||All guestrooms are self-contained||Restaurant
|Prices range from 45-65$|
Luxury accommodation can be got from the following facilities
Equator snow lodge. Located near the gate to Rwenzori national park on the foot hills of the Rwenzori mountains, equator snow lodge brings the ultimate 5- star treatment to you while at the mountains of the moon. This lodge offers you 4 spacious cabins with en suite bathroom that have both cold and warm water in their showers and a private verandah on each to give a one of a kind view to the wilderness of the mountains of the moon. The lodge also offers a restaurant and bar, free wi-fii to keep you connected to the rest of the world and a fire place to keep you warmed up and cozy throughout the night. Snow lodge also conducts activities like short hikes. The price range is from 135$ and above
Mihunga safari lodge. Located near Nyakalengijja, Mihunga safari lodge offers you a home away from home treatment but with a touch of class added to it, the lodge has 5 self-contained wooden cabins that have en suite bathroom with warm water flowing in their showers. The lodge is owned by Rwenzori mountaineering services, the same company that runs the central trekking circuit. Mihunga safari lodge also offers a restaurant with both continental and foreign cuisines and a well-stocked bar, fire place to give you warm up the night.
Mid-range accommodation can be got from the following places
Sandton hotel Kasese. Sandton hotel is located on the fringes of Kasese town and offers accommodation that comes in guest rooms with en suite bathrooms. The hotel is exceptional view point of the mountain of the moon. The hotel offers services of a restaurant offering you continental and international cuisines, a well-stocked bar, lounge area with free wi-fii, dry cleaning services and conferencing services. The price range of Sandton hotel is 103$ and above
Springs international hotel Kasese. Located in the heart of Kasese, springs international hotel offers you a truly rewarding experience of comfort while in Kasese. With guest rooms ranging from luxury suites, to double deluxe to single double rooms that are all en suite with private bathrooms, this is meant to carefully balance exceptional service with affordability. Other services in the hotel include restaurant with continental dishes, well stocked bar, free wi-fii connections, lounge area, swimming pool, laundry services and conferencing facilities. The price at springs international hotel range from 64-69$
Low budget accommodation can be sourced from
Uhuru 50 hotel. Located outside the city of Kasese, Uhuru 50 hotel offers you tranquility while staying in Kasese town. the hotel has all its guest rooms fitted with king-size beds to offer you comfort while away from home, these guest room all have en suite bathrooms with hot water showers and bathtubs for you to relax in after a long day of adventure. The hotel has mastered the idea of maximizing comfortability and really affordable prices. Other services offered in this hotel include well stocked bar, restaurant services, free wi-fii internet and lounge area. The price range at Uhuru 50 hotel is between 37-58$
Ruboni community camp. Located just on the foot hills of mountain Rwenzori, Ruboni community camp is you a perfect place to stay as you embark on your trek to the Rwenzori mountain. The camp has self-contained bandas with private bathrooms, the other accommodation options here include shared rooms with double beds and a shared bathroom. All the rooms both in the self-contained bandas and the shared rooms have beds that have been fitted with mosquito nets to keep these bugs away from you to maximize you’re your comfort. You can also hire a tent or come with your own and pitch it in the camping area. The Ruboni camp site has chefs trained by equator snow lodge that will prepare for you a hefty meal hence giving you a 5-star treatment in a camp setting as you relax and take in the splendid views of the Rwenzori peaks. Accommodation at Ruboni community camp ranges from as low as5$- 25$. Tourists can engage in activities under the Ruboni community walks like village tour at 15$ per person, hill hikes, waterfalls walk and forest hike at 15$ per person each walk, traditional dance 5-10 people at 50$ and an overnight hill walk at 100$ per person.
Snow view hotel. Snow view hotel is located in Kasese town along Kilembe road. The hotel has spacious guest rooms that have private bathrooms, serves a tantalizing continental breakfast, restaurant and bar and free wi-fii and friendly and warm staff to make your stay a memorable one. The price range at snow view hotel is 38$ and above.
Rwenzori turaco view campsite. Located in Mihunga village community, Rwenzori turaco view camp site offers you an up-close and personal experience with the local bakonzo people who reside in this community as they take you through their daily lives activities like farming, beer making, storytelling traditional dances and have visit to their natural clinic which provides them with remedies to their ailments, the Rwenzori turaco view camp site has 3 bandas with en suite bathroom and a shared room with four beds that has a shared bathroom and a camping area for pitching your own tent. The price for accommodation here ranges from 15$- 35$. Other activities here include hill climbing with an option of sleeping out at 45$, forest walk at 15$ and mahoma nature walk trail for 3 nights at 370$.
Tours holiday inn. Located in Ibanda trading center just 2km away from Nyakalengijja, Tours holiday inn is perfectly situated to become your launch pad to start your Rwenzori hike. The holiday inn has a carrying capacity to host 60 guests in its 15 self-contained guest rooms and the rest in an extension new building. These rooms are amazingly spacious and come with en-suite bathroom that have warm running water in them perfect for you to take a cozy warm shower as you wind down or prepare for an expedition to the Rwenzori. Tours holiday inn also brings you a restaurant that prepares tantalizing local dishes with on modern touch just to give you that perfect taste of local delicacies, the restaurant still also offers international cuisines from Germany and Italy so that you don’t get to miss home food while you stay here, a well-stocked bar is also in handy offering you an array of soft beverages and an assortment of carefully chosen hard liquors aimed at giving that perfect holiday in the Rwenzori region, don’t miss out on the free wi-fii internet connection so as to stay connected to the outer world. Finally, the inn has an exquisitely crafted and carefully manicured gardens with a wide variety of flowers and tree species that will make the ambiance really relaxed for you to sit back and just enjoy your stay at close proximity to nature at its utmost best. Guest rooms are available at a bed and breakfast arrangement and come in double or twin double setting for a price ranging between 45$-65$.
Uganda travel health Advice, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda travel health Advice – Uganda Travel Information
Vaccinations and Immunizations
Vaccine recommendations are based on the best available risk information. Please note that the level of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases can change at any time. The following information was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Uganda.
Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
Routine- Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.
Hepatitis B-Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.
Meningococcal (meningitis)- Recommended if you plan to visit countries that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
Typhoid- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Africa, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.
Polio- Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.
Rabies – Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites
Yellow Fever- Recommended for all travelers from 9 months of age. Uganda requires travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10-year intervals if there is ongoing risk. Find an authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccination clinic.
How to stay healthy while on Uganda Safari, Uganda Travel Information
Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
In developing countries like Uganda, drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
What you are supposed to do while on your Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
Do not drink beverages with ice
Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are both international and regional flights to Uganda being offered by various airbuses including British Airways, Kenya Airways, Brussels and so much more. You can as well charter a flight but this can be damn expensive. Uganda has all means of transport although the most accessible is by bus; it’s cost effective and safe when it comes to traveling. Bus companies for instance Regional Coach, Link and Scandinavian Express and Akamba have strict departure time if travelers can’t adhere to this, they are often left behind.
The Min buses usually go for shorter journeys. Transport in Uganda has been improved with well-maintained roads, speed governors as well as seat belts to ensure the safety of all passengers. The buses assemble in the new taxis park and some may be got along the public roads. The bus fares are fixed but cheaper to all the passengers. In the villages, there are motorcycles, bicycles, taxis for hire that can take you to your destination and remember to get small denominations of money to ease on transport. Ugandans are friendly people and are so willing to give directions when required. A visa to Uganda guide has also been put here.
Flights in Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are 12 airports in Uganda and the 4 biggest are
Entebbe Airport (Entebbe, Uganda)
Right now, 31 airlines operate out of Entebbe Airport.
Entebbe Airport offers nonstop flights to 22 cities.
Every week, at least 49 domestic flights and 490 international flights depart from Entebbe Airport.
Arua Airport (Arua, Uganda)
Arua Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 28 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Arua Airport.
Gulu Airport (Gulu, Uganda)
Gulu Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Gulu Airport.
Kasese Airport (Kasese, Uganda)
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Kasese Airport.
English is the national language. There are other local languages like luganda, runyankore, lusoga, luo, runyakitara, lugisu, lugbara and many more spoken by different tribes in Uganda. For those who can only communicate using languages like Chinese, Germany, French, Arabic and others, we can organize special interpreters for them while taking their tours in Uganda.
Uganda’s climate is humid; it combines hotness and coldness in some parts. Uganda has dry spells from June-September and rains from November to mid-January and many rains from March-June but at times such seasons change unexpectedly.
Uganda travel clothing/dress
Carry along lightweight, washable clothes plus a coat, jacket or sweater for morning wildlife game drives or any cold as a result of any weather changes. Items like sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen etc. are also important. Trousers or long sleeved shirts save you from dangers of insect bites. Any other form of dressing by one’s preference is good as long as it isn’t offensive for public displeasure. Women travelers need to carry a wrap to cover legs in the village and towns. At Lodges and hotels with swimming pools, better to carry a swimsuit along with you.
Baggage on safaris
Baggage on safari is limited to one bag, plus one small piece of hand baggage per person (excluding a camera bag). In total this should not weight more than 20kg. Suitcases and other heavier items can be stored in town hotels whilst clients are on safari.
Uganda tour and travel photo shots
To make your tour unforgettable, its better you carry along with you a video and a digital camera with enough charged batteries for shooting anything that interests you throughout your trip. Keep cameras from dust, sunshine or rain. It is advisable to seek permission first before photographing anyone or anything.
Uganda travel security
Uganda is a very safe and sound country in African continent .The country presently has no rebel activity going on inside of Uganda. Even the north of Uganda is enjoying a state of peace and rebuilding since the LRA has signed a cease-fire in the summer of 2006.
Hence Uganda is a very safe country to visit, work and stay, but still precautionary measures have to be ensured while traveling. Below are some guides on how to be cautious so as to keep safe.
Money should be hidden:
The best way to carry your money is when you keep it at your front pocket where you can put your hand over it rather than a back pocket where it can easily be stolen. Do not flash money or count it in public, pull out what you need and pay, never carry large amounts with you. Keep money and any other valuables in your hotel safe.
Carrying Passports and Return Tickets:
It’s very risky carrying your passport on you, it’s best to make a copy of your travel documents and leave the originals at your hotel safe. If you are traveling on a safari, keep it all such things in a small backpack that you can easily carry with you. It is best to carry that small Backpack even if you go on a game drive while on safari. It is always best to be on the safe side of life instead of having later sorrow.
Keep your Jewelry at home or hotel safe:
Take inexpensive jewelry with you (you can buy some lovely items here in Uganda at a low price). Gold chains and jewelry can be torn off you. Avoid expensive watches and if you are wearing one, have one preferably with leather strap that can be tightened and safely worn.
Buy some local Ugandan crafted jewelry and support a local artisan and their families and you will safe-keep your expensive items at home and at the same time make a difference in Uganda through your purchase of local hand-crafted items.
Keep your Mobile Cell-Phone in your pocket and do not carry it in your hands. If you carry it in your hands, someone may take a cigarette burn your hand and you drop the phone when pain strikes and it is gone.
Do not put in on a table in a restaurant or bar since again someone might just come and grab it – Stay on the safe side. Mobile phones are stolen daily in Uganda – hold on to it tightly.
Walking at night:
Do not walk alone on your own in most neighborhoods to be on the safe side – what you would do at home, do here while visiting Uganda. You do not hear of many cases where Visitors to Uganda are robbed or harmed but it is best to be wise and smart.
Visits to Slums:
Slums in Kampala happen to be a place of misery and where you can find quite a few people who would not have the best intentions in mind when it comes to dealing with you. Most slum-dwellers are there not because of choice but because of circumstances in life.
Visiting a slum unless you are visiting a school, an NGO, a charitable work such as an orphanage is ill-advised. We do not offer slum tours as is the fashion in Kenya in order to make money and once company does here in Kampala. We believe in the dignity of all human beings and do not want to benefit off another person’s misery.
Gay Travelers Safety:
In February of 2014 President Museveni signed the stronger anti-gay bill into law. 97% of Ugandans concurred with his decision. Uganda had been in the news for five years regarding the anti-gay bill and it had an effect on Uganda’s image in the world even though it is one of 38 African Countries and over 80 worldwide with strong anti-gay laws.
What does it mean to a gay traveler wanting to come to Uganda? In Uganda there is no public affection between any gender. No promotion of homosexuality and simply discreet behavior that does not draw attention to a visitor to Uganda. The traditions of held values of Uganda and most African Nations are simply different.
The law is there – the choice is up to the gay visitor to Uganda whether to come or whether to stay away – the previous anti-gay law was hardly enforced since in Uganda personal relationships are kept private.
Statement from Stephen Asiimwe -Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board “no gay visitor to our country will be harassed or not welcome for the only reason that he or she may be gay. Cultural policies are important in Uganda. We ask visitors to respect them. They include touching in public for example or engaging in sex with children.”
Is it safe for single travelers?
It’s very safe for tourists to travel solo on safari in Uganda. It’s always best to travel with a reliable tour company like Africa Adventure Safaris Ltd to run your safari in Uganda.
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Major foreign currencies – like the US$, Pound Sterling and Euros, South African Rand and currencies for the Uganda’s neighboring countries can be exchanged in the local forex bureaus and banks. Travelers’ cheques are accepted in Uganda and are exchangeable at banks and forex bureau in Kampala City and other major towns and hotels. Credit cards are getting common and are acknowledged in some shopping and banks. Majority of banks have ATM facilities. In some national parks or tourist centre, visitors can pay using foreign currencies if they didn’t get time to convert into local money. It is not suitable to exchange money on the streets from individuals as you may be given fake notes of Uganda shillings.
Bank and money transactions in Kampala Uganda;Where to get and how to make money transactions in Kampala.
Uganda Banks, Money exchange, Forex rates, in Uganda
The simplest way to acquire money on your initial arrival is using a Visa ATM card (MasterCard is more challenging; do not bother using anything else). The ATMs are scattered across Uganda, beginning at the airport, and nearly all of them offer the favorable Visa logo. It is a good idea to talk to your bankers back at home and inquire about any kind of deals they offer within Ugandan banks – for example, as I write this, in case you use your Bank of America ATM card in any of Uganda’s Barclays ATMs, you will not be charged that annoying ATM fee. Western Union is as well an alternative for quick cash from foreign countries, although the fees are somewhat large. On the other hand, if it is a better option for you, there are several Western Union places throughout Kampala.
Do I need my International Banking card While in Kampala Uganda?
The majority of properly-ATMed banks are Barclays plus Stanbic that appear to have ATMs almost anyplace you would require one. A properly-informed friend informed me that Barclays, regardless of its international name, is pretty short on service, and that its competitor Stanbic could be a better choice. Additional alternatives include Centenary bank whose ATMs and branches can be accessed in most of the rural parts of the country plus Standard Chartered, that has fewer branches as well as ATMs although fairly good service.
How do I make mobile money transactions with my cell phone in Kampala Uganda?
One new and expanding approach to handle money within Uganda is using cell phones commonly known as Mobile money. You can Sign up with any of the local carrier and then send and also receive money directly on your phone, obtainable almost any place across the country. But of course, you need to have some money deposited on it.
Shopping in Uganda
From jammed but fascinating markets filled with collectable handicrafts, to glitzy malls in our big city with the latest must have name brands, more so because our favorable exchange rate makes your retail therapy last longer too. Uganda’s shopping centers provide world-class shopping, plenty of entertainment, the latest movies and delicious food in conveniently situated and safe surroundings. Whether you are looking for something specific, have time on your hands to browse around or just love to shop, the boutiques, chain stores and specialist shops in the country’s malls have it all. The quality, cost and variety of goods on offer along with the safe, sophisticated environment provided by Uganda’s shopping centers should not take visiting international holidaymakers and business people by surprise.
Uganda’s malls are famous for their excellent shopping and entertainment facilities. When you leave the country after your holiday or business trip, you will lament the baggage restrictions of the international airlines and wish that you could take more of Uganda home with you! Vacationers can choose from dining and enjoying a drink at local or hotel bars and restaurants, seeing a movie at the cinema, attending a theatrical production at the cultural centre or gambling at one of the two casinos in town. Some bars host live music sessions at weekends. Uganda is known for their woodcarvings, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and attractive basketry – all make a memorable souvenir of your trip.
Nightlife in Kampala
From a night of fine dining to raucous all-night party in Kampala city Ugandans love to have a good time. Let your hair down and live it up in our clubs, pubs, late-night bars, theatres and live music venues. You won’t just find the best wildlife in our game parks…come on, the party’s starting! Experience a sundowner. Sip a cool drink and enjoy a glorious sunset at the end of a satisfying afternoon game drive. In the tourist towns of Kampala, there are a handful of restaurants, cinema and a clutch of places to grab a cold beer with fellow travelers and the friendly locals.
Casinos in Uganda
Bet on having a good time around Uganda. From our most famous Kampala casino for high-rollers to family entertainment venues– we’ve myriad casinos where you can take chance with Lady Luck. Ugandan casinos, including several large entertainment complexes, can be found countrywide. These entertainment destinations are typically designed around a specific theme and include a large range of activities for the whole family. Many are also geared towards business tourism, providing hotels and conferencing facilities as well.
Uganda’s casinos can be found on the fringes of most major centers. The emphasis is on being a one-stop leisure destination, with access to both indoor and outdoor entertainment. In Uganda, casinos are designed around a specific theme, offering a vision of life somewhat different from the run of the mill expectation of Africa. Nor are they typical casinos, most offering entertainment that goes beyond the usual slots and gaming tables. Among the most popular casinos in Uganda is the famed Kampala casino, in the city centre. Garden city is as famous for its golf course, game drives and outdoor activities as it is for gambling.
Uganda offers a wide variety of hotels lodge’s guesthouses, safari lodges available for travellers ranging from budget, midrange and high-end accommodation that are distributed in all parts of the country. For any destination you want to travel to, there accommodations that you can book at. Feel free to contact us for any of your travel accommodation plans and you will find all answers for Uganda accommodation.
Uganda Public Holidays
Below is the list of Uganda’s public holidays that are officially noticed by all citizens: Liberation day(26 Jan),Women’s Day (8 March),New Years’ Day (1 Jan),Independence Day (9 Oct),Labor Day(1 May),Heroes Day(9 June),Martyrs Day(3June),World Aids Day (1 Dec),Boxing Day (26 Dec),Christmas Day (25 Dec),Human Rights’ Day (10 Dec),Africa Day (25 May)
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
Tours and Adventures in Uganda
There are so many activities and adventures on a Uganda safari that it is difficult to stick to the details on your plan. Here are some of the top interesting tourist activities in Uganda that most tourists have come to love through the years.
Gorilla Trekking Safari, Uganda Travel Information
This ranks as the most important part of any Uganda safari itinerary. The once-in-a-lifetime experience takes you through the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park on the slopes of the Rwenzori ranges in search of the gentle giants. Groups of 8 people launch every day into the forest canopy behind the lead of a trained and armed ranger! It is surely exciting and a challenge that may take you up to eight intense hours of trekking. Without mountain gorilla trekking expeditions, Uganda safaris are not same!
Chimpanzee tracking and the Primates of Uganda
Uganda’s forests are home to an estimated 13 or more species of primates include the black & white colobus, red tailed monkeys, bush babies, olive baboons, gorillas and the habituated chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking is a fascination in Kibale Forest National park but there are also a few of these primates in Semliki National Park and Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria.
Wildlife safaris and National Parks in Uganda
There are 10 National parks and 12 game reserves in Uganda gifted with a wide range of flora and fauna. The most visited include Murchison Falls Park (which is the largest) and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Take a game drive or a guided safari walk in the wilderness and encounter Uganda’s best kept mammals like the tree climbing Lions, zebras, Uganda kob, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Harte beest and many more. Unique safari experiences take you to Lake Mburo National park for a canoe ride for sights of Uganda’s birds and animals visiting the vast lake.
Lake Bunyonyi tours
Lake Bunyonyi is found in South Western Uganda in the district of Kabale. It is Africa’s second deepest lake dotted with a few islands that are historically important to the people in this area. The lake is named after the birds that nest on the lake’s shore and surrounding swamps such as kingfishers, malachite eagles, sun birds, bee eaters, the rare shoebill stork and a few of the Albertine endemic species. Take a canoe ride to the island, nature walks around the lake or go swimming – Yes…the lake is Bilharzia free and good for swimming!
Bird watching safaris
If you are a nature enthusiast, then Uganda must have a special place in your heart. Over 3,000 species of birds are recorded to have nests in papyrus swamps, forests, lakeshores and national parks all over the country. Some of the best birding destinations like Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi forest park, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth Park and also in the different cities. Kampala city also has a few swamps with notable species like the stork and sun birds among others.
Hiking is not a popular sport In Uganda but you can be among the few tourists to reach some of the peaks of Uganda’s skyline. The ‘mountains of the moon’ popularly known as the Rwenzori mountain offer great hiking experiences often challenging but worth when you reach the glaciated peak. Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano in Eastern Uganda is also good for hiking and at the same time discovers some unique plant species that grow on the slopes of this fertile rock.
River Nile Adventures
It is the world’s longest river with its source on Lake Victoria in south central Uganda. The river has a number of rapids and water falls on its course to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. Bujagali falls is particularly good for kayaking and water rafting with class I, II and IV rapids while Bungee jumping is also done near the falls. You can continue pursuing the river to the spectacular Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile in the west and so on
Kampala City Tours, Uganda Travel Information
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and the busiest town in the country. It is Uganda’s largest town and an important centre for business, industry, transport and administration. There are also many interesting things to note and tour about this friendly town such as the independence monument, Uganda Museum & art galleries, Makerere University, Kabaka’s palace, the National theatre, Uganda Martyr’s Shrine at Namugongo and the different religious centres around the capital.
Shopping in Kampala
Kampala being the capital city of Uganda, it has plenty of modern and western style shops with a feel of western typical malls with luxury goods and fast food outlets. You can visit numerous local and upscale shopping places like local markets for fresh foods, supermarkets, boutiques and departmental stores. In some parts of the city there are shopping complexes offering designer labels, computer equipment and other wide range of goods available let it be specialist or luxury. From colorful and bustling markets to newly developed shopping malls, Kampala now has it all. There are many upscale hotels that cater to the influx of tourists.
Kampala is famous for its intoxicating overcrowded markets, streets and arcades with upscale goods and services. Very chaotic but with pretty experience, Owino market normally acknowledged as Balikuddembe market is the most admired local market in Kampala. Sprawling around Nakivubo stadium, Owino is well stocked with everything from manufactured goods to traditional medicine. Eminent for its second hand clothes “Ebikadde” in Luganda, new clothes can be made as well by local tailors after making a selection for a piece of cloth material. Visitors are bound to spend much time here not because they are having much fun but once you are inside it’s really difficult to find your way out.
Apart from these local markets, Uganda is endowed with shopping centers with a feel of typical western styles and among the best places for shopping are 5 big shopping centers; if you want luxury goods especially the American and European brands. This is your best bet because you are likely to do your shopping in one place from one of the following malls; Lugogo shopping mall, Acacia mall, Garden city, and Freedom city. Shopping places indoors include; big supermarkets like Nakumatt, Capital shoppers, Uchumi, Game and Payless, departmental stores, fast food outlets, jewelry and book shops.
Looking out for the best rates for changing large amounts of foreign currency, Kampala is the best way to go. Try out bureaus in Kampala for the best rates this time especially the dollar house and half east all located conveniently next to each other at king Fahad plaza along Kampala road. There are many more bureaus and rates change from time to time but are usually printed in local papers and white boards at the entrance.
There are several sophisticated craft shops around the national theatre and Uganda crafts 2000 limited that sell locally made Arts and crafts. Original and smart local items like bark-cloth clothing, drums, wood carvings, sandals, basketry, beaded jewelry and Muzungu t- shirts plus other items from all over Africa are sold. Look out for many cheaper crafts at park headquarters and the nearby communities, Entebbe airport, Garden city and Lugogo mall. Pieces of valuable handcrafts are available at relatively low prices compared to imported crafts; therefore don’t hesitate to snap a chance. Your purchase of arts, crafts, souvenirs and gifts impact the lives of ordinary Ugandans.
Look out for the best places for English language publications, with the great selection of books like novels and as well as Uganda at very reasonable and affordable prices. The best place is Aristoc, where books are stocked up to satisfy the customers’ needs. Get a reading material before heading on to long road trip. You can also have second hand books with a good selection of novels at a bit cheaper price down town. Bargaining is acceptable and the way to the business. You can bargain for better prices especially on souvenirs and your bargaining power determines what you pay in the end.
Cultural tours and safaris
Uganda is home to many tribes and peoples who live in harmony. Almost every part of Uganda has a tribe that relates to it with a unique heritage and institution called a Kingdom. The most popular kingdom is Buganda in central Uganda with proper institutional structures headed by the Kabaka who is the king. Some of its significant tourist sites include Kasubi Royal tombs, the Kabaka’s palace and lake in Mengo, Sezibwa falls and a host of cultural/spiritual sites dotted around the country. Other kingdoms worth visiting include Toro Kingdom Palace in Fort Portal and Busoga in Jinja among others.
Lake Victoria tours
Lake Victoria is Uganda’s largest lake seen on landing at the Entebbe International Airport. Catch a ferry or hire a charter boat to the spectacular Ssese Islands for a treat of the best beaches in Uganda. Ngamba Island is also another island to visit on the lake, synonymous with the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary. The best ways to relax on one of these islands is by taking nature walks, forest walks, go fishing or treat yourself to some of the best fish in Uganda’s waters. It is the perfect place to relax after hectic safaris in Uganda before you take your departure flights.
Spot fishing in Uganda
Go fishing in Nile River and in Lake Victoria to explore a world of untouched, mystical beauty. Take advantage of some of the other activities on offer such as gliding along the scenic waterways of the Nile and Victoria on a dug-out canoe. For game fisherman, the Nile River teems with Nile perch one of the biggest fish species in Uganda. Catch your biggest one yet and be amazed at the size that the fish grow to in these areas. Houseboats offer 360 degrees of lush greenery filled with the music of chirping birds and beautiful waterways and absolutely luxurious living conditions. Glide through the Nile and Lake Victoria fringes to find fish-rich water
Lake Mburo national park is one of fewest parks that offer horseback riding in safari Uganda, but for the adventurous this is an experience not to be missed. Uganda is a land of immense natural beauty with diverse terrain and landscapes of which Lake Mburo national park with a lush emerald paradise of swamps and Precambrian metamorphic rocks, rich savannah grasslands is undoubtedly living proof of. On horseback you can truly absorb the magnificence of park like unique spectrum of ecosystems that supports an unbelievable variety of bird, plant and wildlife waiting to be discovered. Venture further into the park and get much closer to the abounding wildlife. Encounter exciting moments along the game trails as your horseback safari ride brings you upon great herds of buffalo, zebra, elands and other antelopes. Be assured that this activity is a magical and humbling experience that will touch your soul and remain in your heart for an eternity.
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flying to Uganda is simple and affordable. With many direct flights to Entebbe from Europe, Asia and Africa, Uganda can now be easily accessed from any part of the world. Below are the major international airlines that fly to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda:
KLM / Amsterdam – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Brussels Airlines / Brussels – flights to and from Entebbe 3 times a week.
Emirates / Dubai – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
South African Airways / Johannesburg – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Kenya Airways / Nairobi – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Ethiopian Airways / Addis Ababa – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Qatar Airways / Doha – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Feel free to contact Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd for advice on flights to Uganda and which airline would be most suitable for you.
Domestic Flights, Uganda Travel Information
Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd would be delighted to book your scheduled domestic flights or private charters, providing excellent access to most of the national parks within Uganda. Daily domestic flights are available at affordable rates from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, flying to Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Kidepo National Park among others.
Contact prime safaris and Tours Ltd for more information and prices on charter and scheduled flights to Uganda’s national parks or regional flights within East Africa.