Climbing Mt Ruwenzori

HIKING MOUNT RUWENZORI

Thousands of people climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year. Are you an experienced mountaineer who wants to go off the beaten path and climb a range that few tourists ever set eyes on? The Rwenzori range, nicknamed ‘Mountains of the Moon’, lies along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A chain of remote fold mountains, they contain some of East Africa’s most unusual vegetation and beautiful high altitude lakes. The main summit, Margherita (at 5 109 metres), rises out of the Stanley Plateau and is the largest glaciated area on the continent. To the west is the endless expanse of the DRC jungle and to the east the mists and clouds that rise up over the Lake Victoria basin. Chimpanzee, Blue Monkey, Rwenzori Colobus, Red Forest Duiker, Hyrax and Leopard are the most common of the large mammals. A fully portered hike, Equatorial Safaris supply all camping equipment – although some of the huts may be used en route if they are in good condition. We have a high guide to climber ratio, utilizing ropes, harnesses and ice equipment for the summit attempt.

 

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES:

 

MARGHERITA ROUTE -12 DAYS

 

DAY 1 You will be met on arrival by a representative of Equatorial Safaris and transferred to your airport hotel, where you will overnight at a bed and breakfast.

DAY 2 You will be met at the hotel by your Equatorial Safaris representative for your early start to the town of Kasese, a seven-hour drive on tar roads. Check in to Margherita Hotel.  This hotel, situated at the foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains, is just outside the hustle and bustle of the town of Kasese. It has excellent views of the range. The rooms all have en-suite bathrooms and are very clean and comfortable. Large bar and dining areas ensure a little peace and tranquillity before your climb starts.

Leave any excess clothing and valuables at the hotel – they will lock them up for you. Pack your bag carefully for the climb – remember the weight limit of 12 kg, and ensure that everything has been stored to keep dampness away – especially items like your camera. Leave some ‘bin bags’ in an outer pocket of your bag, and show the porters where they are so that in case of rain they can quickly cover your bag. Keep one out for your personal backpack too!

DAY 3: After breakfast, depart for the trailhead at Ibanda where porters are allocated, loads distributed, you are briefed by the Wildlife Authority etc. These things take time (African time!) – please relax, sit down and enjoy the scenery – don’t get anxious about starting off – it will only get you stressed out!!

The initial part of the trail passes through Bakonjo farms, before climbing steeply to Nyabitaba Hut at 2650 metres, set on a forested ridge with good views of Portal Peaks and the Bujuku Valley. Ensure you keep your wet weather gear with you, there are patches on the route where it is VERY wet and muddy, and you may end up with pretty wet boots this evening. Ensure your boots are waterproofed, and that you have spare lightweight shoes to wear in camp this evening, allowing your boots to dry.

Take it SLOWLY today; you will encounter some steep parts on the climb. The porters walk ahead and sometimes with you – make sure every day, that you have all your personal gear needed with you, as you will not have access to your bag.

Conditions are difficult on this route, and your guide / porters will do everything they can to make your climb pleasant and as comfortable as possible.

DAY 4 starts with a rather steep downhill section where you will cross the confluence of the Bujuku/Mubuku Rivers at the Kurt Schafer bridge, after which you steeply ascend through heather and giant groundsel forests to John Matte hut, situated in a grove of giant heather at 3415 metres. Again, keep your wet weather gear handy, and some snacks for the route. Drink plenty of water. The hut is a spacious one and well worth using, although there are nice spots to pitch your tent if you feel the need. Eat well – at higher levels your appetite will diminish.Learn to pace yourself with your breathing – do not try to rush to catch up with anyone, go at your own, most comfortable speed and you will arrive at base camp relatively easily.

DAY 5 Across the two Bigo Bogs as well as the Kibatsi Bog, wellies are a great help here. There are the remains of a causeway of wooden planks across the Kibatsi bog, which is in various states of disrepair at this stage, up to Lake Bujuku. The shores are muddy, the last obstacle before Bujuku Hut (3 977 m). Excellent views of Mt. Baker, Mt Speke and Mt. Stanley if clear.

DAY 6 For those who wish, there is an opportunity here to climb Mt Speke, whilst the rest of the group can hike to view the Irene Lakes, returning to Bujuku to overnight. Alternatively this can be taken as a rest / acclimatization day.

DAY 7 Travelling over the Scott Elliot pass, after which you descend to Kitandara Hut (4 027 m). The lower of the two Kitandara lakes is one of the most beautiful locations on the Ruwenzori, and the Savoia Ridge always on the skyline while walking.

DAY 8 A steep climb over the Freshfield Pass (4282m), before descending to Guy Yeoman Hut, set in the giant heather zone at 3 506 m. It is likely you may experience seizure of joints – particularly knees today – keep a support bandage with you for this descent, and perhaps some anti-inflammatory pills/cream.

DAY 9: This morning you’ll start a bit earlier than usual, as you have an extra hour or so for your descent to the gate. A long walk today! A steep descent through the bamboo zone, to Nyabitaba Hut, then to the road head where the vehicle awaits. Overnight at Margherita Hotel, where you can start with a cold beer or a hot bath or both!! Bed and breakfast.

DAY 10: Return to Entebbe for your overnight stay at hotel. Bed and breakfast.

DAY 11: Day to explore the city of Entebbe, or to visit Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary etc (our local operator will gladly assist). Overnight stay at hotel. Bed and breakfast.

DAY 12: Met at the hotel and transferred to the airport. Departure.

Important:- Mountain service fee per person is payable in advance, and is valid for 7 days in the Park. This includes a park entry fee, and fees which go directly to the upkeep of the route, huts, bridges etc and payment of local staff and communities.

Package Includes: Mountain Services Fees, Entebbe transport in Land cruisers, land rover or bus, accommodation, meals and transfers as specified, services of a professional mountain guide, all meals on the mountain, local guides, porters, cook, hut and park fees, rescue fees whilst on the mountain, all camp equipment (except crampons/ice axes), (Huts on this climb are small and often cramped or full, so we use tents throughout – we supply quality mountain tents and mattresses)

EXCLUDES – Airline tickets, visas, travel insurance, tips, departure tax, drinks, items not specified, personal equipment.