For people who love nature, there is nothing more enchanting than a great picture. So powerful is a picture that poets often contend that one picture is worth a thousand words. According to the National Geographic, Uganda is among the top 20 global tourism destinations in the world.
The National Geographic is an international travel channel affiliated to the National Geographic Society. Starting today, Sunday Pepper will unveil the hidden treasures of Uganda in a series of stories that we have codenamed “The Wonders of Uganda”. The pictures which are being published for the first time in the history of Uganda are extremely exclusive. They really justify Winston Churchill’s lexis that Uganda is indeed the Pearl of Africa.
Nine Day Trek to Margherita Peak 5,109
Margherita, Africa’s third highest peak defines beauty. However the real beauty is in the climb up the Kilembe route commonly known as the central circuit managed by Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS). The forests, valleys and the flora are diverse with trees and valleys of ferns. They are many species of birds and primates and as you walk up the trail you will see chimp nests high up in the tall trees. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the resident chimpanzees as they scamper away. Though climbing Margherita is quite tricky because of the snow canopy, the rewards are memorable.
You only need to carry good hiking boots, warm clothing, and a bag and rain gear. Here is the breakdown of the 9 day trek to the peak.
Steady walk with a steep climb for the last kilometer. Start at Trekkers at 1,450 meters and sleep at Sine Hut at 2,596 meters being a height gain of 1,146 meters
After a good breakfast, trekking starts at 8.30am and as climbers enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone. In the wet season, the bamboo area is rather muddy and slippery. However, the atmosphere and the forest are beautiful as you climb 551 meters altitude and a distance of 1.8km to Kalalama Camp which is at 3,147 meters in the Heather-Rapanea Zone. Here, you can take a rest and a cup of tea or coffee before heading to Mutinda Camp.
4.9km starting at 3,688 meters climbing to 4,062 meters.
6.2km starting at 4,062 meters climbing over 4,450 meters sleeping at 3,974 meters. This day you commence trekking at 8.30am to climb up Bamwanjara Pass, the trail climbs steadily with several long flat bogs.
4.2km starting at 3.974 meters climbing to 4.485 meters
Walk back along the ridge before crossing several wet areas and small rivers coming from Mt Baker and Freshfields Pass to join Butawu River. The walk up Scott Elliott Pass is enjoyable as you climb through the Pass and up the ridge of Mt Stanley to Margherita Camp at 4,485 meters which is below Elena Hut.
Day starts at 4,485 meters. You climb 3.5kms to Margherita Peak which is at 5,109 meters and return to Margherita Camp then descend to Butawu Camp at 3,974 meters to sleep. From the peak to Margherita camp is 3.5km return plus 4.2km down to Butawu Camp. Total distance 11.2km.
After summiting, you then descend directly to Butawu Camp. In case of bad weather, you may need to stay in Margherita Camp. The following day, you ought to bypass Butawu Camp directly to Bugata Camp.
6.2km starting at 3,974 meters climbing over 4,450 meters sleeping at Bugata Camp (4,062 meters).
On the eight day, you descend to either Kiharo Camp which is at 3,460 meters or Samalira Camp (3,170 meters). You set off around Lake Bugata and the outlet of Kopello Lake then climb 200 meters to the confluence of the two valleys. As you descend down the upper areas of the Nyamwamba Valley, there is a large area of thick Giant Groundsel with dense evergreen undergrowth and moss with the rocky peaks towering above.
As you descend, you will notice the terrain is made up of several flat boggy areas where millions of years ago glaciers sat and melted leaving a wall of big rocks. The valley is home to many Red Forest Duiker (Cephalophucnigrifronsrubidus. You may spend a night at Kiharo Camp (3,460 metres), an area rich in green plants and babbling streams. At night the air is filled with the calls of the rock hyrax as they sit in the rocky cliffs high above.
Assuming you slept at Kiharo Camp, you wake up to the shrill calls of the Ruwenzori Turaco (Ruwenzorornisjohnstoni) and other birds. After a hearty breakfast, you may walk down the valley which is home to many species of birds that dive in and out of the thick vegetation. Chameleons are a common sight as they crawl along the branches of the thick vegetation feeding on insects. In the clear areas you may catch a glimpse of a Duiker surrounded by Giant Lobellias and a variety of flowering plants. After descending a few kilometers, you get to a ridge overlooking the valley before crossing several small valleys and streams to Kyalavula which means view or lookout in the local Bakonzo language with beautiful views down the valley and across to Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park. From here you descend down a long ridge, through the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone and Afro Montane Forest Zone back to base camp in Kilembe.
PRICE PER PERSON
Ugandans and East Africans Shs3,952,000 or $1520)
Non East Africans – (UGX 4,617,600 or $1776)
The price includes park entrance fees, accommodation for all the nine days, all meals, hiking equipment and three porters per person.
Why Mountains of the Moon
In May 1888, British explorer Henry Morton Stanley confirmed the existence of the mountain range when he finally spotted the peaks as the cloud cover lifted. He is credited by choosing a name inspired by local lore, Ruwenzori, or else known as cloud master or rain maker.
Mt. Rwenzori formed about three million years as a result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks pushed up by tremendous forces originating deep within the earth’s crust. The uplift divided the paleolake Obweruka and created two of the present day Lake Albert and Edward and George on the flanks of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift.
The Rwenzori consist of a variety of peaks, ravines and ridges. The highest peak of the Rwenzori is Margherita Peak on at 5110m above mean sea-level). This is the third highest peak in Africa, after Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, but is considered the most arduous climb in Africa.
Other peaks on the mountain include Mt. Speke (4.890), Mt. Baker (4.843), Mt. Emin (4.798), Mt. Gessi (4.715), and Mt. Luigi di Savoia (4.627). The latter peak was named after the Duke of Abruzzi, an Italian Royal, who led an expedition in 1906 to this part of Africa to explore and climb the mountains for the first time in modern history. Because it receives a large amount of rainfall, the mountains are criss-crossed by many rivers and streams. The vegetation in the Rwenzori also tends to be quite thick and prone to gigantism. There is also a variety of wildlife, including elephants, chimpanzee, monkeys, leopards and antelope.
Red Pepper would also like to invite you on a date with His Majesty King Oyo and Omusinga Wa Rwenzururu Mumbere Charles Wesley for the “Royal Mt. Rwenzori Climbing Expedition”. The expedition starts on 3rd September and the adventurous climbers should be back to the foothills in time to be declared Mt. Rwenzori conquerors on Independence Day October 9 2013.
If you are adventurous, call our representatives Alice Nazziwa on 0772760874 or Isaiah Rwanyekiro on 0756-545400 or send an email to [email protected] You can also go to our facebook page and register there. The first three Ugandans to register for this climbing challenge win a fully paid trip worth $1700 to the top of Uganda, Margherita Peak courtesy of WASP Stinging Concepts… Terms and Conditions apply to the winning individual.