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Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Snow capped, glacial, above – in parts – cloud level, and better known as the Mountains of the Moon, or even Land of Mists, the Rwenzori Mountains were once thought (by Ptolemy) to be the source of the Nile. They are not, but are no less fantastic for the error.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, three million years old, born of tectonic activity, they contain, after Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the third highest peaks in Africa, and in terms of diversity of flora maintain a diverse, rich ecosystem. Surrounded by rain forest, which higher up peters out into alpine meadows, Rwenzori Mountains support five distinct vegetation zones, and as a result animals and birds flourish.

Of special note are Rwenzori’s resident population of forest elephant, a number of species of primate, the Rwenzori duiker, and those bird species endemic to the mountains. Unfortunately, their survival is threatened by the rate of glacial-melt. What once covered around seven square kilometres of peak, is now limited to three (on Mt Stanley). Thought to be the result of climate change, the knock-on effect remains a cause for concern.

Given the level of rainfall, the humidity, the difficult terrain, trekking in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is challenging, but these difficulties are more than compensated for by the views and by the excellent guiding. While not mountaineering in the truest sense, the climbs are relatively challenging.

Climate Information

Given its relatively humid climate, temperatures nationally are reasonably constant, ranging from a dry season maximum of 25°C to a wet season maximum of 31°C. Affected by altitude, position and the interplay between the ITCZ and meso-scales, the annual precipitation range is 400mm to 2200mm. A diagonal – south-west to north-east – zone known as the cattle corridor axis experiences between 400mm and 1000mm per annum, as does a section of the western flank of the western rift valley (Lake Albert), while the rest of the country receives upward of 1000mm, the Victoria basin, south-west and parts of central Uganda 1400mm plus.

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