Travels

8-day Rwenzori crossing (Hiking in Uganda)

If in your head you plan to visit Uganda and make one of the most beautiful mountain routes on the planet, do not keep looking for more. This article chronicles our 8-day journey in Rwenzori (Mountains of the Moon), the best route of hiking in Uganda and possibly from Africa.


Rwenzori - Mountains of the Moon

Many speak of Kilimanjaro, a mountain that we know very well and that we conquered years ago. Its massification, its somewhat monotonous landscape and why not, its scarce technical difficulty, makes us put it in a second term and our heart stays in the Margarita peak (5109m). The highest peak of the moon moons or Rwenzori.

8-day Rwenzori crossing

Back in 2006 we climbed the highest mountain in Africa, the 5,895 meter high Kilimanjaro. The trekking left us so shocked that we quickly wanted to return to the continent and conquer other of its peaks. The next one was the Tukal, in Morocco, the highest mountain in the Atlas With 4,167 meters. A somewhat dry place if not for the snow that abounds in its tops.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

Years passed and Africa was somewhat forgotten. It was not until the end of the Torres del Paine eltrekking, when our mind lit up again and an ancient dream came to our heads. Take one of the most beautiful treks on the planet, the route to Rwenzori and the Margarita peak in Uganda

About what comes next

We have wanted to divide our 8-day journey in Rwenzori into a main article and each stage with a completely dedicated article. Therefore, what we are going to tell you below are summaries and tips for this route. Therefore we hope to solve the following doubts, doubts that arose to us before leaving for this spectacular trip.

  • What route should you take?
    • Differences between starting in Kilembe or Nyakalengija
    • Which company to choose (RTS or RMS)
    • Acclimatization to height
    • When is the best date to visit the park?
  • What do you need?
    • Accommodations
    • Clothes, food and things that concern us all
    • 8 day meal
    • Porters and guides
    • Travel insurance
  • ¿How to get to Rwenzori?
    • Reach Kasese
    • Transportation to Rwenzori from Kasese
    • Transportation to Rwenzori from Kampala
  • All stages (We will hang all in independent and fully detailed articles)

What route you should take and which company to choose

This is the first big dilemma that is presented to us, the route to choose. To start, climbing the Margarita peak requires special permits that are granted to two different companies. One is Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS) and another Rwenzory Mountaineering Services (RMS) whose services must be hired. This is only to undertake the route to Marguerita peak but if our desire is only to stay 1 day, we would only have to pay the access permit to the national park, of about $ 40 person / day.

Both companies have created their own network of mountain shelters, quite basic but great for a route of this nature. However, shelters are not shared byRwenzori Trekking Services and Rwenzori Mountaineering Services since each company makes a different route. In both cases the price is negotiable and will depend on the number of people in the group. It is usually around $ 1200 person.

Rwenzori Trekking ServicesMake the route from Kilembe, at 1,450 meters altitude. Place where a set of mines settle in the hands of a Canadian company. This route was created in 2010, therefore it is quite new and in turn the most wild. The shelters are in a better state of conservation but the roads are sometimes quite impassable due to vegetation and rocks. This was our choice despite being a little harder than the second option.


8-day Rwenzori crossing - Map with RTS from Kilembe

RwenzoriMountaineering ServicesIt makes the route from Nyakalengija, also at 1,450 meters of altitude and is in theory the company with more experience since the route has been open since before the 90s. However, mountaineers are leaning towards Rwenzori Trekking Services for their best service and professionalism


8-day Rwenzori crossing - Map with RMS from Nyakalengija

Our final choice was to leave Kilembe and our GPS marked this data after finishing the entire route:


8-day Rwenzori crossing
Distance traveled75 km
Slope6,792 m
Minimum altitude1,573 m
Maximum altitude5,109 m

Acclimatization to height

Fortunately, the network of shelters is at a height and distance between them that acclimatization is usually optimal. Of course, we must always go with a continuous and slow step, nothing to arrive as soon as possible. In fact, we may find some group that makes a 4-day journey and that logically goes faster. They do not exceed 4,000 meters so they do not need an acclimatization like ours.

It is recommended to drink a lot of water, around 3 liters daily. This means that you will quickly get used to the taste of the water treatment pills.

If we have a headache and in turn we notice slight punctures, we can take a paracetamol. However, symptoms usually appear at night while we sleep, which makes many people sleep poorly. If the symptoms are severe, we must lower immediately. In Camp Bugata for example there is an improvised helipad for rescue. The helicopter usually comes from Kampala or even from Kenya, which is a long wait. The cost is very high and insurance is mandatory.

What is the best date to visit Rwenzori

It is said that in Rwenzori it rains 350 days a year, therefore it is almost certain that it will rain at some time of the day. To avoid such calamities, the best months to visit include December to February and from July to August. Even so, it will rain 100% and you have to be prepared for it.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

What do you need to visit Rwenzori?

Accommodation, campsites and shelters

Well, accommodations as such the only thing that exists is a network of shelters no heating, water no electricity. Of course, they have bunk beds with comfortable mattresses. In addition campsites as such do not exist and I honestly do not recommend it unless you are looking for a puddle with a lot of mud if you find a flat place.


Rwenzori - Mountains of the Moon
8-day Rwenzori crossing - Bugata Camp

The shelters usually house 10 people, with two houses per camp plus the one used by the guides and porters. The cost of the shelter is included in the RTS or RMS service.

What food to take to Rwenzori?

RTS or RMS services include all the necessary food, but then the reality is quite different. Basically the diet is based on 5 main ingredients. Pasta, rice, carrot, onion and some other vegetables that I don't know. This is sometimes complemented with chicken or pork and some soup as well as breakfast that usually varies with eggs and cereals.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

Therefore the best is bring some food of our land Either something precooked or for cooking. We simply deliver it to the chef of the expedition and that's it.

It is also convenient to bring energy bars, nuts, water treatment pills, ..., etc.

What clothes to wear to Rwenzori?

Yes we talk aboutbasic equipment We recommend the following. We have linked some of them so you can see in detail how they are and do not run out of equipment:

  • 40 liter backpack for day to day. Water layer for the backpack
  • 65-80l backpack with the material that we do not use in the walk (Sack, thermal and bivouac covers, flashlights, ...,). Water layer for the backpack
  • Winter sleeping bag (Temperatures drop to several degrees below zero)
  • Basic accessories (knife, compass, ...,)
  • First aid kit
  • Several t-shirts, a pair of socks per day, underwear
  • 1 long pants, another short and one by gore-tex
  • Fleece lining and Goretex raincoat if possible
  • A Primaloft or feathers for the cold. At night the temperature drops quite
  • A poncho
  • Cap, the head should always go hot
  • Several pairs of gloves for different conditions
  • High boots
  • Crossing poles
  • Water boots (provided by RTS or RMS)
  • Crampons, Piolet, Harness and Helmet
  • Front for the last stage
  • Solar chargers if possible. There is no electricity
  • Piles to spare
  • Canteen or Camelback with water treatment tablets. It is necessary to drink 3 liters of water a day
  • Something to read. It gets dark at 7:30 p.m. and from that hour it's all dark
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • An umbrella
  • GPS and flashlight (Victising is the best quality / price) with batteries for several days

Margharita in the background

Porters and guides in Rwenzori?

The national park through RTS or RMS services force hiring of 2 guides per group. Porters They are optional but due to their low cost it is worth hiring. We also give them such a scarce temporary job in those lands. It is an allocation of one carrier per person and with a maximum load of 20 / 25kg.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

Both guides and porters are included in the RTS and RMS service. However, at the end of the trekking there is usually a tip that oscillates in the 10$ day per person

Travel insurance in Rwenzori

Travel insurance is mandatory and the companies that make the route can demand it. In addition, this must be a special insurance that includes mountain rescue at high altitude. Usually, mountain insurance with an insurance company covers up to 5000m tall, something fair for this route but it may be enough.


How to get to Rwenzori?

Rwenzori can be reached in several ways. One is by means of a transport contracted directly to RTS / RMS from Kampala. Its cost varies depending on the number of passengers and is usually around 50$ person. To this we must add the 8 hours of hard roads between Kampala and the start of trekking.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

The most comfortable option is flying from Entebbe (Kampala) to Kasese. There is a rudimentary airport with a grass runway and where only planes of up to 12 passengers land. Its cost is high, leaving around $ 300 per way. Once there, the RTS / RMS services must be hired for transportation to the trekking base.

All stages of Rwenzori

Stage 1/8 - Rwenzori

From Kilembe Hostel (1,450m) to Sine Camp (2,596m)

  • Distance: 10.4km
  • Weather: 6h
  • Total ascent: 1,208m
  • Total descent: 179m

The first stage begins at Kilembe Hostel. There we leave all the material that we do not want to take with us and divide the luggage. The one that the carriers will carry and what we will carry.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

Then you cross the entire town to get fully into the Cloudy forest, where the entrance to the National Park appears. It is a very forested stage and where we can see many animals on the road like chameleons or monkeys.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information at the following link: Rwenzori- Stage 1 between Kilembe and Sine Camp

Stage 2/8 - Rwenzori

From Sine Camp (2,596m) to Mutinda Camp (3588m)

  • Distance: 6km
  • Weather: 6h
  • Total ascent: 1,135m
  • Total descent: 122m

From Sine Camp you enter a bamboo forest quite thick up to 3,000 meters. There the vegetation changes again and we begin to see the gigantisms of numerous plants accompanied by bogged areas. There are numerous streams and waterfalls that we must cross throughout this route, with constant wooden stairs, steps with rope and a lot of mud. Little by little, the true beauty of the Rwenzori or the Moon Mountains appears.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information at the following link: Rwenzori - Stage 2 From the Sine Hut refuge to Mutinda.

Stage 3/8 - Rwenzori

From Mutinda Camp (3,588m) to Bugata Camp (4,100m)

  • Distance: 7.7km
  • Weather: 6 / 7h
  • Total ascent: 910m
  • Total descent: 376m

The nights at Mutinda Camp are cold, above 0 degrees and everything is usually icy sunrise. From this point you will cross some wooden walkways through a spectacular landscape to a large rock detached from the mountain. From here we leave the main road to climb the Mutinda overlook, a mountain that borders 4,000 meters and usually climbs to acclimatize.


Rwenzori - Mountains of the Moon

We descend the mountain to the rock mentioned above and from here we will have to avoid a mountain pass and several alpine valleys to Bugata Camp.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information at the following link: Rwenzori - Stage 3. Mutinda Hut a Bugata camp

Stage 4/9 - Rwenzori

From Bugata Camp (4,100m) to Hunwick's Camp (3,974m)

  • Distance: 7km
  • Weather: 5 / 6h
  • Total ascent: 687m
  • Total descent: 663m

He leaves Bugata Camp early to cross the pass Bamwanjara at 4,459 meters, then down to a set of lakes over 4,100 meters. The landscape is really spectacular, seeing Margarita peak for the first time. The roads are almost hidden by vegetation and very difficult to follow. Continuous stage goes up and down to Hunwick's Camp and where we will begin to notice the height.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information at the following link: Rwenzori - Stage 4. Bugata - Hunwick camp

Stage 5/8 - Rwenzori

From Hunwick's Camp (3,974m) to Marguerita Camp (4,485m)

  • Distance: 5km
  • Weather: 4h
  • Total ascent: 710m
  • Total descent: 170m

One more cold night in a stage that runs quietly to the Marguerita Camp passing very close to the Mount Baker. From Hunwick's Camp you start down to the lakes Kintandara, at the feet of the Baker. We climb up to the pass Scott Elliot and we only have 30 minutes left until the camp.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information at the following link: Rwenzori stage 5- Hunwick's Camp to Margherita Camp.

Stage 6/8 - Rwenzori

From Marguerita Camp (4,485m) to Hunwick's Camp (3,974m) through Marguerita peak (5,109m)

  • Distance: 11km
  • Weather: 11 / 12h
  • Total ascent: 962m
  • Total descent: 1,439m

The toughest stage of the route. It leaves at 3 or 4 in the morning towards the Marguerita peak, drawing 2 glaciers and numerous fixed ropes and stairs. Very technical stage and where 20% of mountaineers leave. It is also completely linear ending at Hunwick's camp.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information in the future in a dedicated article.

Stage 7/8 - Rwenzori

From Hunwick's Camp (3,974m) to Kiharo Camp (3,640m)

  • Distance: 11.8km
  • Weather: 5 / 7h
  • Total ascent: 813m
  • Total descent: 1,315m

With honey savored 24 hours before, we start the tour through a different valley. The step is up Weismann more than 4,500 meters high, something you do not expect since everything was supposed to be lowered :), although after this "unforeseen" touches down a very steep slope to Kiharo Camp.


8-day Rwenzori crossing

More information in the future in a dedicated article.

Stage 8/8 - Rwenzori

From Kiharo Camp (3,640m) to Kilembe Hostel (1,450m)

  • Distance: 16.4km
  • Weather: 6 / 7h
  • Total ascent: 367m
  • Total descent: 2,270m

By far the most boring and monotonous route of the route. More than 2,000 meters down which makes our legs get too heavy. It is also warm to run below 3,000 meters.


Uganda

More information in the future in a dedicated article.