IAT 23 - Rwenzori Mountain hiking safari (A date with the Mountains of the Moon)
On arrival at Entebbe Airport, our representative will meet you and transfer you to Fortportal and over night at Rwenzori View Guesthouse depending on time of arrival. This evening, your guide will go to the park headquarters and the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services concessions to arrange payments, rent equipment and select guides and porters for the following day's journey.
This morning, you will begin your hike by leaving the park head quarters (5400ft 1,646 m), walking past typical " wattle and mud" Buhonjo homes and gradually moving upward through elephant grass and garden plots. It takes approximately forty minutes to reach the National Park boundary (which can be a pleasant half or one day trip for someone not going further ).The trail then follows the Mahoma River after about two and a half hours. After crossing the River, you will have a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and Podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut ( 8,700 ft/ 2,652) reached about an hour and a half past the Mahoma River crossing. During this part of the trip, you may be able to see Chimps and some times behind the Hut you can see Black and White Colobus and Blue monkeys and catch glimpses of the brilliantly –colored Rwenzori Touraco ( a bird of the tree tops). Over night at Nyabitaba hut.
From Nyabitaba Hut that trail leads westward for a half km then drops north (right) steeply to Kurt Shafer Bridge, crossing below the confluence of Bujuku and Mubuku Rivers. By turning down the bridge you begin the circuit counter clock wise. After crossing the Shafer Bridge, the muddy slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest. After one and a half hours you encounter an area of slippery boulder hopping which many hikers consider the most difficult and dangerous footing on the circuit. Over night at Nyamileju Hut. Nyamileju means " a place of beards" referring to the lichen and spanish moss draping trees near by. On a rare day, Mts. Stanley and Speke can be seen from the top of the rock near the Hut.
After breakfast, you will continue to John Matte Hut (11,200 ft3,414 m) which is through a tiring bog full of these extraordinary plants and the slow pace can be a delightful chance to examine and photograph this unique environment. Well situated, John Matte is newly constructed, large and comfortable though muddy around the site. Hikers who feel they have reached their limits by this point should consider John Matte a reasonable stopping point. You can just enjoy the unique vegetation in the bog and the great views and the following day begin you return to Nyabitaba.
You leave John Matte Hut to cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower of the two Bigo Bogs, where your first real experience jumping from tussock to tussock in a grassy bog begins. The trail is very muddy and follows the left (southern) edge of Lower Bigo Bog until eventually it reaches the round metal "uniport" of Bigo Hut and it's rock shelter. A steep section past the hut leads to upper Bigo Bog. In the last half of this bog a board walk has been constructed. Though some may think it an ugly intrusion, it makes walking easier and keeps hikers from further damaging the bog. An hour and a half beyond the upper bog, and after climbing through drier ground and crisscrossing the River, you reach Bukulu Lake. The southern end of the lake is a majestic setting, with Mt. Bakerto the south, and views west to Mt Stanley and north to Mt. Speke. Beyond the north end of the lake is a rock shelter called Cooking Pot and a short distance further is Bukulu Hut( 13,000ft/3,962m),favourably located for parties climbing Mt. Speke
Day Six: To continue the circuit, you leave directly west from Bukulu hut on a newer trail, which rises and falls twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss- draped Groundsel Gully towards (14,345ft/4,372m) Scott Elliot pass. At the head of the gully is a short, strong ladder at a particularly steep section, after which a right hand branch would lead to Elena Hut (14, 700ft/4,430m). This is a steep, rocky trail which when wet or icy is treacherously slippery. Continuing straight, and a few steps below the pass there is a sheltered spot for a break, from here there is a second trail to the right to Elena is the Base Camp for climbing. Margherita peak in the Mt. Stanley complex, which would require an additional day or two and can only be attempted with ice axe, mountain boots, crampons, ropes and prior arrangements with RMS guides. Over night at Kitandara Lake Hut.
Start hiking back to the park head quarters. After breakfast, you will probably begin very early if you decided to make it all the way to the Park Headquarters and complete your trek (8 hours). The other alternative will be to spend a night at the Nyabitaba Hut.
Day Eight: Start hiking back and complete your trek by the evening. On arrival at the Park Office, visit a simple restaurant developed by a local ladies group for a beer and a luxurious candlelight meal. Over night at Rwenzori View guest house. Day Nine: After breakfast, transfer to Kampala and later catch your flight back home depending on International departure times.
After breakfast, transfer to Kampala and later catch your flight back home depending on International departure times.