The Ruwenzori are Africa’s third highest mountain range, and include seven peaks over 4,500m -including Mount Stanley which at 5,109m is the highest in Uganda. Once known as the mountains of the moon, these wild, jagged peaks are often covered by clouds, with the highest tops in particular being usually hidden from view. When the mountains do show themselves you can see a number of glaciers here near the equator, but as the upper slopes are often covered in snow it is sometime difficult to make them out separately. This mountain range stretches over 100km along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 300km west of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
The mountains on the Ugandan side of the border have been designated as a national park above an altitude of 2,000m, where there is dense forest. Higher up, above 2,500m the mountains are dominated by bamboo forest, then as you go higher first heather scrublands followed by unique aero-alpine heathland vegetation, with its unusual giant herbaceous plants, takes over. The latter habitat is at its most widespread in the Ruwenzori, but can also be seen on East Africa’s other high mountains. The national park is home to a number of large mammals, but you should not count on seeing them, and “make-do” with a couple of species of monkey and a good number of birds.
The town of Fort Portal at the foot of the Ruwenzori, around 300km west of Uganda’s capital Kampala, is the starting point for paths taking you on short walking and cycling tours, up into the highlands where there are no roads. It is also the starting point for treks, with both guides and bearers who will take you up to over 4,000m, but these are only suitable for experienced walkers and climbers.
High season: January to February and June to July