How to Prepare for a Rwenzori Mountain Hike!

Mount Stanley

Mount Stanley is the highest peak of the Rwenzori Mountains. These Mountain ranges border Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This beautiful mountain rises through jungle and strange bogs to a series of jagged peaks ringed by Africa’s biggest concentration of glaciers. Mount Stanley is a fault block mountain in the African Rift System that rises between two rifts. 

What to wear when climbing the Rwenzori Mountains?

They are composed of gneiss and quartzite and were produced within the last 10 million years. The mountains are almost always shrouded in mists and showers, with frequent thunder and lightning.

Nowhere else on the planet has such an incredible assortment of bog, moss, and woodlands that resemble those from The Lord of the Rings. Heavy rain, sleet, and snow lash the range much of the year. However, the two drier intervals are January-February and June-August. It is strongly advised that you schedule your travel to one of those times. Even so, weeks of fog and showers are possible. Luckily, the rains were usually light and barely lasted a few hours.

How to Get to Mount Stanley

Currently, Uganda is the most cost-effective way to reach Mount Stanley. Entebbe Airport, located on the beaches of Lake Victoria, is good, with frequent flights to Nairobi and Kigali. There are numerous hotels in Entebbe and Kampala, both of which are around a half-hour’s drive from the airport. There are two major routes to the Mountain Rwenzori from Kampala. One takes you through the lovely town of Fort Portal onto Kasese. Another alternative route takes you through Masaka, Mbarara, and onto Kasese. The road is tarmac until you reach a few kilometers to the base of the mountain.

If you are an adventurer and want to do this on your own, you can take public means (Bus or taxi) from Kampala to Kasese. Hire a local taxi to the base of the mountain. If you choose to, you can hire a self-drive vehicle and drive to the mountain yourself. We at Laba Africa Expeditions can arrange and execute your safari to your needs.

Hiking Mount Stanley:

Our Popular Hiking Safaris to Mount Stanley

Traditionally, Rwenzori Mountain activity has been concentrated in a loop that leads up the Bujuku valley, over the Scott Elliot Pass to the beautiful Kitandara Lakes, and then over Freshfield Pass into the Mubuku Valley. This main circuit has a superb network of huts and trails. The trails are sometimes rough in spots, with deep muck. 

Attempts have been made at various periods to erect boardwalks across some of the deeper bogs. Rwenzori mountaineering services offers safaris to Mount Stanley and regularly maintain these wooden broad walks. Most people take about a week to approach and climb Mount Stanley. The following is an example of a typical travel itinerary:

When Is the Best Time to Climb Mount Rwenzori?

Day 1: Depart from Kasese town and proceed up the road to the Nyakalengija gate. From here, follow the Mubuku River through lush jungle, then past thickets where occasional sights of elephants and chimpanzees are encountered. This is the beginning of a steep glacier moraine. This path leads past massive ferns to the Nyabitaba hut at 2600 meters, where chimps and monkeys can be heard or seen. Most hikers require roughly 5 hours to ascend 1200 meters. The Portal Peaks may be seen from the lodge.

Day 2: Descend from the moraine to cross the Mubuku River, then climb to the John Matte Hut at 3500 m among bamboo and trees covered in moss and ferns. On this particular day, the trail is quite rough. This is roughly a 7 hour hike.

How to Prepare for a Rwenzori Mountain Hike!

Day 3: Cross the Lower Bigo Bog from the John Matte hut to the older Bigo hut. At this point, a one-day or multi-day excursion up the Mugusu Valley to the Lac de la Lune, Ptolomy’s Nile source, is conceivable. Mt. Gessi and Mt. Emin can also be reached via this valley. If you stay on the main trail, you’ll pass through stunning scenery past the Upper Bigo Bog and Lake Bujuku to the Bujuku Hut at 4075 meters. Many individuals spend 5 hours to ascend the 560 meters. Mt. Stanley can be seen from here if the weather is clear. The Bujuku Hut is the common starting point for climbing Mt. Speke. Some quick hikers complete the approach and peak ascent on the same day.

Day 4: Climb to the Elena Hut at 4540 meters, which used to be next to the Elena Glacier. The steep ascent takes several hours to complete. One section of the journey involves climbing a lengthy ladder (Groundsel Gully). The upper part of the ascent is on moss-covered slabs. The view from the hut is normally foggy, but if the weather clears, it can be stunning, with the Portal Peaks and Mt. Baker visible, as well as an amazing view of the Coronation Glacier on Mt. Stanley. In many respects, crossing ice-covered ledges from the hut to the outhouse in the early hours of the morning can be the most difficult part of the climb.

Rwenzori steep ice capped peak

Day 5: Climb steep, frequently wet slabs to the Elena Glacier and Africa’s largest ice field, the Stanley Plateau. Depending on the circumstances, one of numerous lines can be utilized. The superb SE ridge of Alexandra Peak is easily accessible from here. Crossing the Stanley Plateau to the north, one can reach the top of Alexandra’s SE Ridge, drop down a sharp gully to the Margherita Glacier, climb this to the Alexandra/Margherita Col, and then proceed to the summit of Margherita Peak on snow trending left, then typically wet or ice rock.

The Margherita glacier is riddled with crevasses, many of which are hidden beneath a thin layer of snow. Furthermore, there are frequently wild ice formations along the road and on surrounding ridges. To enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo, use the path to the west of the sign at the peak. It is also feasible to continue west along the ridge to reach Albert Peak. Return to the Elena hut and continue down to the lovely Kitandara Lakes. There is a vast region down the valley from here that has been cleared of all vegetation

Day 6: Ascend Freshfield Pass (300 meters elevation gain), then descend to Guy Yeoman Hut (3500 m). Mt. Baker and Mt. Liugi Di Savoia can be climbed from near the pass. The vegetation is incredible. On the way down, you pass an old campground of the Duke of Abruzzi (Bujongolo) with graffiti from early-twentieth-century excursions. A place as lovely in its own right as any on the planet.

Why is Mount Stanley Important?

Mount Stanley is important for several reasons. First, Mount Stanley is home to extensive biodiversity and many endangered species, making mount Stanley a critical conservation site. Second, mount Stanley is a major source of water for the surrounding communities. Finally, tourists and adventurers from around the world are attracted to mount Stanley because of their incredible beauty and unique trekking opportunities.

How was Mount Stanley Formed ?

Mt. Stanley rises between two rifts in the African Rift System. The gneiss and quartzite that make up these Mountains were formed within the last 10 million years. The mountains are constantly covered in mist, rain, and thunder. The range receives heavy rain, sleet, and snow most of the year, but there are two drier periods between January/February and mid-June and mid-August. Planning your trip during one of those periods is highly recommended.

Other Peaks On the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges

Mt. Speke

Mount Speke is the second highest mountain in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda. It forms a triangle with Mount Stanley and Mount Baker, enclosing the upper Bujuku Valley. Margherita, the nearest summit, is 3.55 kilometers (2.21 miles) to the south-southwest. The mountains are located in a region known as ‘The Mountains of the Moon.’ Mount Speke’s highest point is Vittorio Emanuele (4,890 meters) (16,040 ft).

This mountain can be reached through the Central circuit trail from Bujuku hut at 3,962m asl, or via Omukendeghe camp for those doing a camping expedition. This location, located below the three major mountains of the Rwenzori ranges, is known as the “core of the magical struggle.”

Mount Baker

Mount Baker is Africa’s sixth highest mountain, with its highest point, Edward Peak, standing at 4844 meters (15892ft). Mount Stanley is so close. The upper Bujuku valley is formed by the triangle formed by Mount Stanley, Mount Baker, and Mount Speke.
The mountain baker was called after Sir Samuel Baker, the first European to see Lake Albert, which is located northeast of Mount Rwenzori.
Mount Baker’s summit offers views of the twin peaks, the Margherita glacier, Mount Speke, and the stunning beauty of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Mount Gessi

Mt Gessi and Mt Emin are located in the Rwenzori Mountains to the north of the Mount Stanley, Speke, and Baker triangle. It was named after the source of the Nile’s Italian explorer Romulo Gessi. The mountain also includes twin peaks, Iolanda (15,470 ft.) and Bottego (15,470 ft). (15,418 ft.). It is close to Mount Emin, which is separated by by a tiny valley.
The trek to the top begins in the Mugusu valley and proceeds through groundsel forests to Roccato pass, then through heavy brush and slabs to the ridge between the peaks. These summits were formerly covered with glaciers, which melted away.

Mount Emin

Mount Emin, which stands at 15742 feet in the Rwenzori Mountains, was named after central African explorer Mohammed Emin Pasha. Despite the lack of snow, the difficult mountain with narrow and rocky ridges is regarded the fourth of the Rwenzori ranges and the sixth in Africa.
The mountain contains two peaks, Umberto (1574ft) and Kraepelin (15720ft), both of which are located between the borders of Uganda and Congo, making access easier from the Congo side. Climbing this peak in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park often begins from the south west of the Ridge and is easily accessible from the Mugusu Valley, which extends into Congo.

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