The Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains


The Rwenzori Mountains sometimes referred to as “the mountains of the moon” are a fault block mountain range located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was formed due to the rifting that took place in East Africa over the past 10 million years. The highest peak being Mt Staley reaching 5109 meters above sea level.

Its coordinates are as follows: 0.3667° N, 29.9500° E

The Ruwenzori Range has a maximum breadth of 50 km and extends south-north for 130 km between Lake Edward and Lake Albert. . The Rwenzori Mountains traverse three districts, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Kabarole, and are home to nearly two million people (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2002).

The Rwenzori Mountains are part of a wider conservation system in Central Africa that includes

Semliki and Kibale National Parks, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

National Park (all in Uganda), Parc National des Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo,

and Parc des Volcans in Rwanda


Queen Elizabeth National Park is located east of Lake Edward and south of the Ruwenzori Range in southwestern Uganda.

The Ruwenzori Range’s largest mountains are separated by passes and deeply cut river valleys that all eventually drain into the Semliki River. Glaciers and small lakes occur in the upper valleys.

The Ruwenzori is economically important for copper and cobalt deposits, mined at Kilembe, Uganda. Hydropower for mining is provided by the Mubuku, the range’s largest river and Mubuku River has long been used for irrigation purposes in the area to support agriculture.

Rwenzori Mountain is a home to many endangered species including forest elephants, several primate species and many endemic birds.


The Rwenzori are known for their vegetation, ranging from tropical rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of giant groundsel and giant lobelia and even has a six metre high heather covered in moss that lives on one of its peaks.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori Mountains National Park situated in the Bundibugyo, Kabarole, and Kasese districts protects the highest parts of the 120km-long and 65km-wide Rwenzori mountain range. The national park hosts 70 mammals and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation.

The park comprises most of the centre and eastern half of the Rwenzori Mountains and Africa’s fourth and fifth highest peaks (Mount Speke and Mount Baker) are also located in the park.

 Organized climbs/treks on Mount Rwenzori

The following companies offer organized treks on Mount Rwenzori

  • Africa Adventure Safaris
  • Rwenzori Abruzzi
  • Rwenzori Mountaineering Services

Beliefs and Stories about Rwenzori Mountains

  • The Bakonzo cosmology begins with the creator (Nyamuhanga) who made the snow (Nzururu) (Masereka, 1996). According to oral legend, Nzururu is the father of the spirits Kithasamba and Nyabibuya who are responsible for human life, its continuity and its welfare
  • The Bakonjo consider the peaks as the dwelling of god Kitasamba, whose froze sperm (the snow) fertilizes the land and the society melting in rivers and lakes.
  • The Bakonjo people say that since time immemorial they have regarded the Rwenzoris as[ix] a repository of many blessings to their socio-economic well-being. As such, the mountains constituted a form of reserve even before the colonial period. The cultural significance of the mountains is demonstrated by traditional rituals performed within the Mountain, including the construction of hunters‟ shrines for animal sacrifices, ceremonies involving the exorcism of evil spirits, and human burials.
  • There is a belief that if a person dies in the mountains his body is not to be brought home but must be buried where he died. These sites are known by the cultural leaders but the Park authorities have very little knowledge about them.

Hot Springs

  • Sempaya hotsprings (Semliki hotsprings) located in Semlik National Park in Western Uganda, 52 km on Fort Portal – Bundibugyo Road and  about 465km from Kampala City, with boiling water at a temperature of over 130 degrees centigrade capable of boiling eggs within 10 minutes.
  • Kabuga hot springs are located in Muhokya subcounty, Busongora county in Kasese district with water bubbling at a temperature of 41 and 42oC
  • Kibenge thermal spring is located on Kasese – Kilembe road after the junction to Hotel Margherita in Kasese District with a temperature of about 45oC and with intermittent gas bubbling.
  • Rwagimba geothermal area is located in Kibito subcounty, Bunyangabu county, Kabarole  District with water bubbling on  temperature ranging from 40 to 69oC

Agriculture on mountain slopes

The area surrounding the mountain is fertile supporting the growing of various crops including coffee, cocoa and banana. Coffee and cocoa earns Uganda substantial amount of foreign currency.

Accommodation around the mountain

Hotel/ Lodge Contact
Ruboni Community Camp P.O Box 320 Kasese, Uganda

Tel: +256 752 503445, +256 774 195859



Ruboni Turaco View Camp Tel: +256 774 379564/ +256 774 851753                                                                      Email:
GeoLodges Equator Snow Tel: +256 414 258273, +256 312 260758                       Email:, Website:
Rwenzori Mountains Safari Lodge Tel: +256 483 444936, +256 414 237497, +256 752 598461                       Email: Website:
Trekkers Hostel Tel: +256 776 114442, +256 774 114499     Email:                                                                             Website:


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