Mountains of the Moon

Despite having the Equator running through it, the African country of Uganda boasts glaciers and snows within its boundaries, and these can be found on one of Earth’s most mysterious mountain ranges.

The Rwenzori Mountains lay claim to the third, fourth and fifth highest peaks in Africa. Although Rwenzori is the official name given to this spectacular mountain range, it is also known as the Mountains of the Moon, because the peaks seem to reach right to the sky.

The Rwenzori National Park was established in 1991 in order to preserve the unique flora and fauna that is found there, and in 1994 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site guaranteeing in international protection.

These mountains tower almost 4,000 metres above the Albertine Rift Valley, and are usually covered in thick mist and cloud. The moisture in these clouds keeps the slopes almost constantly wet, which has resulted in some extraordinary vegetation.

Scattered across the landscape is typical alpine vegetation with a twist; the lobelias, groundsels and heathers grow to an enormous size, some many metres in heights, and because of this the slopes are notoriously difficult to negotiate.

Called montane forests many rare animals, including the forest elephant and eastern chimpanzee still thrive here, protected by both the altitude and the terrain.

Above 3,500metres there is permanent snow and glaciers, and the Rwenzori Mountains also boast permanent glaciers and wild rivers, which make the mountains the highest source of waters which eventually flow into the Nile.

There are some brilliant walking routes along the lower parts of the range, and it is possible to climb to the top of Rwenzori, but you need to be a skilled and experienced climber to do so.
The best time to visit the Mountains of the Moon is during the dry season, which occurs between mid-December and March and also from June until mid-August.

There is accommodation in the towns of Kasese and Fort Portal, but if you wish to overnight on the mountains you will need to camp.

Apart from seeing the extraordinary flora, one of the best reasons for visiting Rwenzori is to view the wildlife, which is not typical of the rest of Eastern Africa.

The best way to reach Rwenzori National Park is by road or rail from Uganda’s capital Kampala to the town of Kasese, and then proceed by road. It is best to hire guides and porters in Kasese and Fort Portal where you will be able to make all arrangements to best see the Park.

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