10 Days Rwenzori Climbing Adventure in Uganda to Margherita Summit
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN UGANDA – ENTEBBE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Meet you at Entebbe Airport or in a hotel in Kampala by our representative for an early start for the town of Kasese, a six-hour drive on tarmac roads. Check into Rwenzori Mountaineering Safari Lodge, at the foot of the Rwenzoris for dinner and overnight. You should leave any excess clothing and valuables at the hotel – they will lock them up for you. Pack your bag carefully for the climb – remember the weight limit of 12 kg, and ensure that everything has been stored to keep dampness away – especially items like your camera.
Leave some ‘bin bags’ in the outer pocket of your bag, and show the porters where they are so that in case of rain they can quickly cover your bag. Keep one out for your personal backpack too.
The Rwenzori Mountaineering Safari lodge, located at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains, is just outside the hustle and bustle of Rwenzori foothill with excellent views. The rooms all have en-suite bathrooms and are very clean and comfortable. Large bar and dining areas ensure a little peace and tranquillity before your hiking starts.
DAY 2: TRAILHEAD TO NYABITABA
After breakfast, leave for the trailhead at Nyakalengijo where porters are allocated, loads distributed and you are briefed by Rwenzori Mountaineering Services. Relax here as we prepare and enjoy the scenery. The initial part of the trail passes through Bakonjo farms, before climbing steeply to Nyabitaba Hut at 2650 metres, set on a forested ridge with good views of Portal Peaks and the Bujuku Valley.
Ensure you keep your wet weather gear with you, there are patches on the route where it is VERY wet and muddy, and you may end up with pretty wet boots this evening. Ensure your boots are waterproofed, and that you have spare lightweight shoes to wear in camp this evening, allowing your boots to dry.
Take it SLOWLY today, you will encounter some steep parts on the climb. The porters walk ahead and sometimes with you – make sure every day, that you have all your personal gear needed with you, as you will not have access to your bag. Conditions are difficult on this route, and your guide/porters will do everything they can to make your climb pleasant and as comfortable as possible.
DAY 3: NYABITABA HUT TO JOHN MATTE HUT
Start with a rather steep downhill section where you will cross the confluence of the Bujuku/Mubuku Rivers at the Kurt Scharfer bridge, after which you steeply ascend through heather and giant groundsel forests to John Matte hut, situated in a grove of giant heather at 3 415 metres. Again, keep your wet weather gear handy, and some snacks for the route.
Drink plenty of water. The hut is a spacious one and well worth using, although there are nice spots to pitch your tent if you feel the need. Eat well – at higher levels your appetite will diminish.
Learn to pace yourself with your breathing – do not try to rush to catch up with anyone, go at your own, most comfortable speed and you will arrive at a camp relatively easily. This day it is advisable to hike in rubber boots (“wellies”), as some parts of the route are VERY wet and muddy.
DAY 4: JOHN MATT TO BUJUKU HUT
Across the two Bigo Bogs as well as the Kibatsi Bog, the “wellies” are a great help here! There are the remains of a causeway of wooden planks across the Kibatsi bog, which is in various states of disrepair at this stage, up to Lake Bujuku. The shores are muddy, the last obstacle before Bujuku Hut (3 977 m). Excellent views of Mt. Baker, Mt Speke and Mt. Stanley if clear.
DAY 5: BUJUKU
We strongly recommend an acclimatization day here. For those who wish, there is an opportunity to climb Mt Speke, whilst the rest of the group can hike to view the Irene Lakes, returning to Bujuku to overnight. Alternatively, this can be taken as a rest/acclimatization day.
DAY 6: BUJUKU TO ELENA
Travelling most of the way up Scott Elliot pass, you ascend to Elena Hut at 4,543 metres for your attempt on Margherita, the summit of the highest mountain range in Africa. Trekkers feeling the altitude can bypass Kitandara Hut and meet the rest of the climbers on day eight.
DAY 7: ELENA-SUMMIT – KITANDARA HUT
The ascent of Margherita, the summit of the highest range in Africa, and the third highest peak in Africa, 5,109 metres. In order to take advantage of the usually mist free mornings, we make an early start. Today is a very long and strenuous day. Drink lots of fluid before you start, you will be very thirsty by the end of the day – if you manage, carry 3 litres of fluid with you today. Crampons and ice axes are essential, and you will be roped together for the glacier crossing. The route taken to the peak depends on local conditions. On clear mornings all the major peaks may be seen, as well as the DRC rain forest 3,000 m below to the west. On the return, the hut is normally reached by mid-day, and after a welcome tea break, we descend to Kitandara Hut at 4,027 m. The lower of the two Kitandara lakes is one of the most beautiful locations on the Rwenzori mountains, and the Savoia Ridge always on the skyline while walking. An extra day can be inserted in the itinerary for attempts on additional peaks, like Alexandra.
DAY 8: KITANDARA-GUY YEOMAN
A steep climb over the Freshfield Pass (4,282m), before descending to Guy Yeoman Hut, set in the giant heather zone at 3,506 m. It is likely you may experience seizure of joints – particularly knees today – keep a support bandage with you for this descent, and perhaps some anti-inflammatory pills/cream.
DAY 9: GUY YEOMAN-TRAILHEAD
This morning you will start a bit earlier than usual, as you have an extra hour or so for your descent to the gate. A long walk today! A steep descent through the bamboo zone, to Nyabitaba hut, then to the road head where the vehicle awaits. Liaise with your head guide regarding tips – we recommend approximately USD 100-200 per climber, which the guide will apportion out amongst the group. Any old clothes, shoes, etc. would also be most appreciated. Whilst tips are “compulsory”, and the above figure is ‘expected’ – anything above that is totally at your discretion. From the trailhead, we return to Rwenzori Mountaineering Safari lodge, where you can start with a cold beer or a hot bath or both!! Bed and breakfast.
DAY 10: DEPARTURE:
Breakfast at the lodge and hit the road back to Kampala or Entebbe Airport for onward flight.
Alternatively, you can choose to proceed to Queen Elizabeth National Park for wildlife viewing and Bwindi Impenetrable National park for mountain gorilla tracking.
End of the tour
We can combine Rwenzori Mountain hiking adventure with Mountain gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Many of our past clients combine gorilla tours with mountain climbing and other wildlife safaris in Uganda.