12 Days Rwenzori Hiking & Gorilla Trekking

12 Days Rwenzori Hiking & Gorilla Trekking

The 12 days trekking and tracking safari explore the two UNESCO heritage site of Rwenzori Mountains National park and Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Mt. Rwenzori is a block mountain and has highest altitude in Uganda’s landscape at its Margherita Peak at 5109 meters above sea level.

The Mountain is snowcapped year in year out despite being the Equator. Most notably, Margherita is Africa’s 3rd highest peak but the real beauty is in the trek up the trails, through montane forests and valleys filled with diverse flora, including trees and myriad of ferns until you get to the mountain summit. The trek starts and ends at Nyakalengija base camp.

Transfer further to south western part of the country to Bwindi Impenetrable National park for an encounter with the mountain gorillas.

Detailed Plan

Day 1- Transfer to Rwenzori Mountains National park

You will be picked up from your hotel in Kampala by our guide, drive via Masaka crossing the equator and stop for a photo moment and the equator experience. Another stop in Mbarara town where you will have lunch at either Igongo cultural center or Triangle Hotel. Then proceed to Kasese town while admiring the magnificent views of the jugged Rwenzori Mountains. 

Day 2- Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba camp

This day you start the trek using the central circuit that starts at Nyakalengija. You will arrive in the morning to rent equipment and meet your guides and porters. The trail begins at the foot hills by passing through farmland to the park boundary beyond which it follows a thick forest, running parallel along River Mubuku, crossing Mahoma River tributary and thereafter start a long, steep climb onto a massive ridge that leads to Nyabitaba hut.

During this part of the walk you get to see chimpanzees, Black and white colobus, blue monkeys and The Rwenzori Turaco, Sun birds and other montane vegetation birds. You will rest at Nyabitaba and your guides will prepare dinner at this camp.

Day 3- Nyabitaba to John Matte Camp (3505m).

Wake up in the morning, have an early breakfast and hit the trails beginning from Nyabitaba; follow a trail that drops down through the forest to Kurt Shafer Bridge, below Mubuku and Bujuku rivers confluence. Traverse a lush bamboo forest, pass through a long, exhausting stretch of slippery moss-covered rock.

Mount Stanley and Mount Speke can be seen right from Nyamuleju rock shelter, before passing into the giant heather, lobelia and groundsel zone. Finally arrive at the John Matte Hut after walking through the tiring bog, for dinner and night stay at the John Matte hut.

Day 4- John matte – Bujuku Camp (3962m).

From John Matte Hut the path descends down through the Bujuku River and penetrates into the lower Bigo Bog- home of extra-large lobelias. Hopping from tussock to tussock, you will finally make it through bog but rarely without the feet sampling some of the freezing ooze below.

The upper Bigo bog is a gate way to Bujuku Lake, comprised of Mt Baker and Mount Stanley views, to the south and west respectively. Bujuku Hut is strategically set in the shadow of Mount Baker and Mount Speke, is located in a narrow valley below Stuhlmann’s Pass.

This hut is perfect for acclimatization for trekkers attempting to make it all the way to Mount Stanley and Mount Speke summits. Dinner and night stay at Bujuku hut. 

Day 5- Bujuku – Elena Camp (4541m)/ Mt Stanley.

Depart from Bujuku hut, the path traverses through abundant bog, while ascending the steep slopes west of the lake and through the secret forest made of Groundsel Gully.

Turn to the right up to Elena camp and you will locate Mount Stanley on a steep trail over large boulders, while the path on the left heads straight to Scott-Elliot Pass. Down to Kitandara Lakes, the path on the left leads trekkers who are not making it to the Margherita Peak to Kitandara Hut instead.

Hikers ascending to the Margherita peak will have Dinner and night stay at the coolly and Icy Elena Hut.

Day 6- Elena Hut to Margherita Peak (5,109m) – Kitandara Camp (4430m).

Wake up so early, and attempt summiting to Uganda’s highest point, Margherita located on Mount Stanley. Reaching the peak of Margherita, involves 4 -5 hours of steep climb depending on the weather conditions and speed of climbers. This tough walk takes one over 3 glaciers, slippery rock, ice and very exposed areas which are open on various sides.

Trekking to the glaciers, cross Stanley Plateau and continue with the ascent. Get acquainted to fog, altitude sickness and extreme cold weather, scramble till you make it to the peak of Margherita – Rwenzori’s highest point at 5,109m above sea level.

While on top, take pictures and then descend back to Elena Hut; this descent back to Elena camp can take about 2 – 3hours depending on the weather and speed of trekkers.

Have lunch at Elena hut, descend further to Scott-Elliot pass (4372m above sea level) with spectacular views of Lake Bujuku and Mount Speke. The trail later takes one through an alpine zone of sparse vegetation and rugged boulders, descend past Kitandara Lakes for dinner and night stay at Kitandara hut.

Day 7- Kitandara to Guy Yeoman (3261m).

From Kitandara hut, follow the trail that first ascends steeply up the headwall, spreading out from the base of Mount Baker and proceed along the south side of mountain to Fresh Field Pass 4282m. from this point, trekkers can view D.R. Congo in the west & Mount Stanley to the north. 

From this pass, take on the long high alpine mossy. Thereafter, begin the descent through steep rocky paths and the rock shelter at Bujongolo, the base camp for the historic expedition by the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906 and a night stay at Guy yeoman hut.

Day 8- Guy Yeoman – Nyabitaba.

Below Guy Yeoman camp, the trail descends via Kichuchu cliffs. Beyond Kichuchu, the muddy trail traverses River Mubuku twice through vast bamboo plantation before trekking downwards to Nyabitaba camp to complete the circuit.

Descend straight to Nyabitaba hut. 

Day 9- Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija.

Have breakfast, and continue trekking from Nyabitaba Camp for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours and complete your trek at Nyakalengija, the base camp. 

Day 10- Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

After breakfast, you will drive from Rwenzori National park via Kasese, Rukungiri, Kanungu and then to Bwindi impenetrable national park. The park is home to variety of birds, and half of the population of mountain Gorillas and other unique flora and fauna. Arrive at the park and check in at the Lodge as you await your tracking experience.

Day 11- Gorilla Trekking.

Wake up very early in the morning for your breakfast and pack your lunch. Then drive to the park headquarters, which are a few minutes from your lodge for a briefing by the park ranger on how you need to conduct yourself before the gorillas and as you hike through the park.

At 8.30am begin hiking along well-established trails in the forest with the guidance of trackers and ranger guides. Gorilla tracking is a strenuous exercise but a rewarding experience after encountering the gorillas. The time to encounter these apes is an hour but the whole activity takes several hours (2-8) depending on their movement in the forest.

Day 12- Transfer back to Kampala/Departure.

After breakfast, begin your journey back to Kampala with a stop at the equator and Mpambire drum makers in Mpigi to get insight on drum making and souvenirs.

Lunch will be had enroute. Your driver guide will drop you off at your hotel in Kampala or at the Airport in Entebbe, if your onward flight is on the same day.