Mountains of the Moon - The Rwenzori Mountain Range

Posted on Fri October 2, 2020 in Uganda's National Parks.

The East African mountaineering scene has been dominated by Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, but more and more seasoned mountaineering experts that are visiting Uganda are impressed by the landscape diversity, scenic beauty and technical challenges.

Most people know that Uganda is home to over half of the remaining mountain gorillas, multiple chimpanzee habitats, the big five, amazing birdlife and unrivalled traditional cultural activities but not many people are aware of the incredible hiking and mountaineering experiences that can be done in Uganda, it has four areas where you can go Mountaineering and Hiking: The Rwenzori Mountain Range, also known as the mountains of the moon, Mount Elgon, The Virunga Mountain Range and Hiking in Karamoja.

The Rwenzoris

The Rwenzori mountain range is located inside the Rwenzori National Park on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The National Park is famous for being able to cater for everyone, from casual walkers to technical climbers. The diverse nature of the mountain range enables visitors to be able to do anything from a one day hike to a 10-day excursion. This UNESCO world heritage site is protected as the National Park and managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The highest peak of the Rwenzoris – Mt Stanley’s Margherita Peak, reaches 5,109 metres (16,762 ft), and the range's upper regions are permanently snow-capped and glaciated. 70 % of Rwenzori Mountains National Park is above 2,500m in altitude, making it Uganda’s highest park. Rivers fed by mountain streams form one of the sources of the Nile. The park was gazetted in 1991 and was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994 and Ramsar site in 2008. The Rwenzori is not volcanic like East Africa’s other major mountains but is a block of rock upfaulted through the floor of the Western Rift Valley. The explorer Henry Stanley placed the Rwenzori on the map on 24th May 1888. He labelled it ‘Ruwenzori’, a local name which he recorded as meaning “Rain-Maker” or “Cloud-King.”


The Ruwenzori are known for their vegetation, ranging from tropical rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of giant groundsel and giant lobelia and even has a 6 metres (20 ft) tall heather covered in moss that lives on one of its peaks. Most of the range is now a World Heritage Site and is covered jointly by Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the eastern Congo.[5]

There are five overlapping vegetation zones in the Ruwenzori: the evergreen forest zone (up to 2,800 metres (9,200 ft)); the bamboo zone (2,800 to 3,300 metres (9,200 to 10,800 ft)); the heather zone (3,000 to 3,800 metres (9,800 to 12,500 ft)); the alpine zone (3,500 to 4,500 metres (11,500 to 14,800 ft)); and, the nival zone (4,400 to 5,000 metres (14,400 to 16,400 ft)). At higher elevations, some plants reach an unusually large size, such as lobelia and groundsels. The vegetation in the Ruwenzori is unique to equatorial alpine Africa.


If you want to include a hike in the Rwenzoris, just let us know. We will design the perfect trip for you including this stunning mountain range. Don't hesitate to contact us!