The Central Circuit Trail
This challenging, seven-day climb provides a circular tour of the high Rwenzori. From the trailhead at Mihunga, the route ascends the Bujuku Valley via Nyabitaba for acclimatization before reaching the peaks. Clients joining the Central Circuit after Bujuku will traverse the Scott Elliot and Freshfield passes to descend through the Mubuku Valley. Climbers can scale the snow peaks though many consider the exceptional scenery ample reward for their exertions.
The recently reopened Kilembe Trail ascends the southern slopes of the Rwenzori from a trailhead at Kilembe near the town of Kasese. The route along the lovely Nyamwamba Valley passes glacial lakes and some stunning viewpoints before joining the Central Circuit at Lake Kitandara. The standard route scales Mount Baker though the scenery makes shorter treks rewarding enough.
There are countless bird species to watch out for among which include:- Albertine Rift endemics like; Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Montane (Rwenzori) Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked and Collared Apalises, Stripe-breast Tit, Rwenzori Batis, (Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike ), Blue-headed, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Strange Weaver, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimsonwings.
Others to pay attention too are; African Long-eared Owl, Western Green Tinkerbird,Lammergeiger, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Olive Woodpecker, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, Evergreen Forest and Bamboo Warblers, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Montane Sooty Boubou, Golden-winged and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, White-collared Olive-back, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Oriole-Finch.
During this safari you will journey to Mountain Rwenzori a UNESCO world heritage site. The rwenzori ranges that stretch over 120km are referred to as the legendary snow capped ‘Mountains of the Moon’ as stated by Ptolemy in the early 150 AD. The misty peaks together with the distinguishable icy peaks that can be cited at miles away offer a breath taking background of these legendary mountains. Taking a safari to the Rwenzori Mountains will certainly be a very exciting and rewarding adventure which you won’t find in any place in Africa.
For experienced hikers who will reach the highest summit at 5109m; the Margareta will find this as the greatest achievement of the safari. Rwenzori Mountain is the third highest in Africa, but many hikers have discovered and concluded that it is the most challenging of all mountains in Africa..
Mid-market: Hotel Margherita. Budget: Ruboni Community Bandas, Rwenzori Base Camp Guest House, Rwenzori Mountaineering Services Huts.
Day 1 Kampala-Kasese
You will be driven to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese from your hotel by our safari guide. Have a stop over to take photographs at the wonderful equator and also see the makers of royal drum at Mpambire. Look out for wildlife as you continue to Queen Elizabeth National Park. At Margherita hotel in Kasese is where you will dine and spent the night.
Day 2 Nyabitaba Hut (2650m).
Drive to the 1600 meter high Nyakalengiia trailhead after an early morning coffee cup were you will hike up to Nyabitaba Hut with our guides and porters. Walk past the Bakonjo homesteads, through the Matooke plantations on the steep foothills’ sides. Continue all the way through the landslides along the Mubuku River. On crossing River Mahoma, steeply ascend to Nyabitaba Hut through the slopes of Podocarpus forest and the bracken fern. You will then head for dinner and the night at the Nyabitaba Hut.
Day 3 John Matte Hut (3350m).
You will follow the trail that drops down just below river Mubuku and river Bujuku’s confluence, from Nyabitaba up to Kurt Shafer Bridge. Traverse through the long, very tiring and slippery moss-covered rock, passing through the bamboo forest. You can see mount Speke and mount Stanley from the rock shelter at Nyamileju before passing through the giant heather, groundsel and the lobelia zones. Through thetiring bog, you will arrive for dinner and overnight at John Matte Hut.
Day 4 Bujuku Hut
The trail drops down from john matte hut across the Bujuku River and enters the giant lobelias’ home- the Lower Bigo Bog. You will finally cross the bog jumping from one tussock to another and your feet will at least touch some of the icy ooze below.
The upper Bigo bog will lead to Lake Bujuku which offers outstanding views of Mt Baker and Mt Stanley to the south and west respectively. The Bujuku Hut set underneath Stuhlmann pass in narrow valley, is situated in the shadows of Mt Speke and Mt Baker. Return for dinner and the night at the Hut.
Day 5 Elena Hut (4541m).
While climbing Lake Bujuku’s steep slopes on the west, the trail ascends to the 4372 meter Scott-Elliot pass, and you will pass through more swamps and the thrilling Ground gully. You will go over a steep section at the top of the gully using a metal ladder. The trail is then divided into two. The two trails, the left trail leads to Scott-Elliot pass descending to Kitandara Lakes while the right trail heads to the Elena Hut and on a steep trail above large boulders to Mt Stanley. You will then head to the icy and somewhat coolly Elena Hut for dinner.
Day 6 Margherita peak
You will have to proceed to Stanley Glacier’s base if you wish to reach the 5109meter Margherita Peak. The weather conditions and the mountain climbing pace, determine the time you will take ascending to reach the Margherita summit which normally takes about five to seven hours. On the tough walk, you will see over three Glaciers, the slippery rock, ice and areas that open on many sides hence very exposed.
Only technical and physically fit climbers can climb. Continue with the ascent across the Stanley plateau to climb to the glaciers. Move up quickly to the highest Rwenzori peak, the Margherita summit while acclimatized to altitude sickness, fog. Do not get upset in case you do not make it to the peak due to the harsh conditions and high altitude. Prepare to return back to Bujuku Lake and Mount speke with spectacular views, through the Scott-Elliot pass, to mount Stanley and down to Kitandara Lakes. You will then head for dinner at Kitandara Hut after the trail, through the sparsely vegetated alpine zone and with rough boulders, past Kitandara Lakes.
Day 7 Guy Yeoman Hut (3260m)
Take the trail from Kitandara, steeply ascending to the top of the headwall, you proceed from Mount Baker’s base to the Fresh field Pass, along the mountain’s southern side. Here you can see Mount Stanley and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the north and west respectively. Take on along the lengthy trail past Bujongolo rock shelter, which was a base camp for the legendary tour in 1906 by the Duke of Abruzzi. Dine and sleep at Guy Yeoman Hut.
Day 8 Nyabitaba (2650m)
Take on the muddy and slippery path to Nyabitaba Hut for an adventure in the mountain. Because of the steep rock and vertical mud, you will have to balance vigilantly. You will then head for dinner and sleep at Nyabitaba Hut.
Day 9 Nyakalengija trailhead (1600m)
You will move down the muddy paths gently to the trail head and then arrive in Kasese in time for lunch. Carry on to the Kazinga channel from Queen Elizabeth National Park after lunch in Kasese for a cruise to see various animals like solitary buffaloes, hippos, elephants and a huge collection of birds. Return to Mweya or Jacana lodge for dinner and slumber.
Day 10 Queen Elizabeth – Kampala
Wake up early, take breakfast, and head on an early morning game drive before leaving for Kampala where you will reach late in the evening.
End of adventure of Rwenzori Mountains