The Central Circuit trekking
The best way to experience the Rwenzori is to take the so called “central circuit trail”. This starts from the village of Nyakalengija, where the park quarters are found and follows the Mobuku river valley, then sloping around Mount Baker, where is found the final trail to climb Mount Stanley with Margherita Peak. This trekking passes through five different vegetation zones, from the mountain forest, the bamboo zone, the alpine zone, with difference in level of altitude from 2.800 m to 3.500 m when you climb the peak. The trail can take 6 days 5 nights and you consider adding an extra night for any peak you intend to climb. It is important to respect the gradual acclimatization process to avoid altitude sickness.
You find along the trail several huts, which are basic in comfort, however provided with mattresses and drinking water directly from the mountain.
Destination Jungle will organize this experience by providing you with our professional guides and cooks. Please be aware that the porters only carry up to 25 kg per person, including food, which means any extra kg is also extra tariff.
The best period to climb the Rwenzori
It is clear to all that the climatic seasons are changing characteristics in recent years, however it is still advisable to climb the Rwenzori especially during the dry seasons, between December and March, between June and July, between September and October.
Are you ready for the climbing?
The trekking and climbing of the Rwenzori, though technically not difficult for any trekker or alpinist, however has its great challenges. The trail is long and tiresome as it lasts up to 7 days. It requires endurance and physical fitness, at least some previous training. A part from this advice, the trekking does not require much of high tech equipment, just trekking boots and especially gumboots, since most of the trail is boggy (swampy areas). Only the last tract of the Margherita Peak climbing presents a glacier area and requires the use of rope and crampons. For the full list of the required equipment, please see the notes after the itinerary.
Day 1 - Kampala
On arrival at Entebbe International Airport we welcome you and transfer to Kampala for overnight BB at the hotel, Capitol Palace Hotel. BB
Day 2 – Rwenzori Mountains
In the morning after breakfast you depart Kampala and head Westwards in the direction of Fort Portal where you will arrive in time for lunch. Later on proceed through the Mubuku valley up to the village of Ibanda. While you relax in the montane atmosphere of the hotel, meet your guides and start arranging for the next day trekking. Dinner and overnight at Tours Holiday Camp Base. Full Board
Day 3 - Stage 1: From Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba Hut, 2.652 m.
After breakfast proceed to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park head quarter in Nyakalenjija, 1615 m. You receive the briefing from the officials; you can hire equipment for the trekking as you wait for the preparation of luggage and porters.
The hike starts through the plantations and homes of the Bakonjo, the people of the Rwenzori. Follow the Mobuku river inside the mountain forest up to the first hut, Nyabitaba, 2.652 m which is the arrival point for the day. During the day you might see the black and white colobus, the blue monkeys or hearing the chimpanzees. Typical is the colourful Rwenzori Turaco. From Nyabitaba, you are facing on the North the Portal Peaks, 4.627 m, and in front Mount Kyniangoma. Dinner and overnight at Nyabitaba Hut. This day hike can take up to 4/5 hours.
Hiking time: 5 hours - Habitat: montane forest – Altitude level: 1.037 m.
Day 4 - Stage 2: From Nyabitaba Hut to John Matte Hut, 3.505 m.
From Nyabitaba Hut take the trail that leads westwards to the Kurt Shaffer Bridge, which crosses the Mubuku river just below its confluence with Bujuku river. Here is where the proper “central circuit” starts, and you will take the right side (while you will descend from the left side). The vegetation zone is now the bamboo forest. You reach up to a steep rock which leads to Nyamuleju Hut, the beginning of the groundsel zone. Follow a swampy bog full of extraordinary plants and giant lobelias. The arrival point for the day is John Matte Hut, 3.505 m. where you have dinner and overnight. From this location you can enjoy for the first time the view of the snow capped peaks of Mount Stanley.
Hiking time: 6 hours - Habitat: bamboo forest and groundsel zone – Altitude level: 762m.
Day 5 - Stage 3: From John Matte Hut to Bujuku Hut, 3.962 m
From John Matte Hut you cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower “Bigo bog”, a grassy bog where you experience how to jump from tussock to tussock. After a rocky climb you reach Bigo Hut and enter the upper “Bigo bog”. From this extraordinary boggy valley you might have good view of the Mount Stanley. Finally you reach Lake Bujuku, then proceeding through a very muddy swampy area until Bujuku Hut, 3.962 m. This is where the alpine zone begins and the grass becomes scarce and smaller. This day hike can take up to 5 hours. The hut is well positioned down the Mount Speke and on the trail to Congo. In front of the hut you can enjoy the best view of Mount Baker and Mount Stanley.
Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours - Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 457 m.
Day 6 - Stage 4: From Bujuku Hut to Elena Hut, 4.430 m.
From Bujuku Hut, after a muddy area, you start a steep climbing through a forest of giant groundsels up to the Groundsel Gully. A branch in the trail leads to Elena Hut, 4.430 m, arrival point for the ones who intend to climb Margherita Peak. If you are only taking the central circuit, then the trail proceeds directly to Kitandara Hut. You walk through Scott Elliot Pass, 4.372 m., the highest point during the central circuit, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views down the Bujuku valley, of Mount Baker, Mount Luigi di Savoia and Stanley just above. This is a steep, rocky trail which when is wet or icy can be very slippery.
After dinner, you rest at Elena Hut before ascending in the early morning before sunrise.
Hiking time: 3- 4 hours - Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 468 m.
Day 7 - Stage 5 From Elena Hut to Kitandara Hut, 4.023 m.
From Elena Hut you ascend the last tract of rock and ice which leads to Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley, 5.109 m. You might take about 3 -4 hours to complete the climbing. You need crampons, ice axe and rope as you walk through what remains of the glacier area of Mount Stanley. The peak was first climbed by Prince Luigi Amedeo the Duke of Abruzzi at 9.30 am on 18th June 1906.
The trail descends down to Upper Kitandara Lake and Lower Kitandara Lake, where is located Kitandara Hut, 4.023 m. arrival point for the day. It can take approximately 3 hours walk. This is the best place for planning the ascent of Mount Luigi di Savoia and Mount Baker.
Hiking time: 6 hours - Habitat: glacier / alpine zone – Altitude level: - 1554 m.
Day 8- Stage 6: From Kitandara Hut to Guy Yeoman Hut, 3.261 m.
From Lake Kitandara you climb to Freshfield Pass, 4.282 m., a long flat of high alpine mossy glades, before descending the circuit among rocky and boggy areas. The panorama is dominated by the glaciers of Mount Stanley and Mount Baker. A rocky trail leads to Akendahi, Bujongolo and Kabamba rock shelters, where starts Kabamba valley before reaching Guy Yeoman Hut, 3.261 m. This can take up to 5 hours. The hut enjoys a good panoramic location, nearby the river Mubuku and with views of Mount Baker.
Hiking time: 5 hours - Habitat: alpine zone / groundsel zone – Altitude level: - 762 m.
Day 9- Stage 7: From Guy Yeoman Hut back to Nyakalengija
From Guy Yeoman final descent to Nyakalenjija, which might take about 7 hours walk. Otherwise, you can decide to spend another night in Nyabitaba Hut. The trekking follows the Mubuku and Kichuchu rivers, with all the plants of the heather zone before reaching the bamboo forest. Kabamba falls are seen on the way. From Nyabitaba Hut starts the short trekking to see Lake Mahoma.
As you arrive down in Nyakalenjija we shall transfer you back to the hotel in Ibanda or, according to the time, in Fort Portal.
After breakfast, return back to Kampala in time for connections with the international flights from Entebbe International Airport.