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Kampala, Uganda

14 Day Gorilla Trekking & Rwenzori Hiking in Uganda, Margherita summit

Day 1: Arrival, overnight in Kampala
Upon arrival at Entebbe airport, meet your driver/guide (Our company representative and transfer to a hotel in Kampala for dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Full Day Rafting
This is the day for full-day rafting in Jinja on River Nile. Get up early and assemble at the Sheraton hotel where we leave for Jinja. Full-day rafting and return to Kampala by evening, overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: Leave for Kasese southwestern Uganda
Meet you at the 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 bed and breakfast. 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, situated at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains, is just outside the hustle and bustle of the mountain foothill. It has excellent views on your objective. The rooms all have en-suite bathrooms and are very clean and comfortable. Large bar and dining areas ensure a little peace and tranquility before your climb starts.

Day 4: Nyakalengija (1615m) – Nyabitaba Hut (2651m)
The Central Circuit starts at the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services offices at Nyakalengija. You should arrive in the morning to allow ample time to rent equipment and meet your guides and porters. The trail begins by passing through farmland to the park boundary beyond which it follows the  Mubuku  River, crossing its Mahoma tributary before starting a long, steep climb up onto a massive ridge to reach Nyabitaba hut. The hike takes around 6 -7 hours. During this part of the trip, you may hear chimpanzees and see black and white colobus, blue monkey, and the brilliantly colored Rwenzori turaco.

Day 5: Nyabitaba (2651m) –  Mubuku  River (2600m) John Matte Hut (3380m)
From Nyabitaba follow the trail that drops down through the forest to the  Kurt  Shafer  Bridge, just below the confluence of the Mubuku and Bujuku rivers. Passing through the bamboo forest, traverse through a long and exhausting stretch of slippery moss-covered rock. From the Nyamileju rock shelter, Mount  Stanley and  Mount  Speke can be seen before passing into the zone of the giant heather, lobelia, and groundsel. Finally reach John Matte Hut after passing through the tiring bog, for Dinner and Overnight at the Hut.

Day 6: John Matte (3380m) to Bujuku (3962m)
From John Matte Hut the trail drops down to cross the  Bujuku  River and enters Lower Bigo Bog, the home of giant lobelias. Jumping from tussock to tussock, the bog is finally crossed but rarely without the feet sampling, some of the freezing oozes below. The Upper Bigo bog gives way to Bujuku Lake, with views of Mt Baker to the South and Mt Stanley to the West. Bujuku Hut, well located in the shadow of Mount Baker and  Mount  Speke, is set in a narrow valley below  Stuhlmann  Pass. Dinner and overnight at Bujukuhut.

Day 7: Bujuku (3977m) to Elena Hut (4541m).
Leaving Bujuku, the trail takes you through more bog, while climbing the steep slopes west of the lake and through the magical Groundsel Gully as it ascends to  Scott-Elliot  Pass at 4372m. At the head of the gully, a metal ladder takes you over a steep section after which the trail is divided into two. The trail on your right leads up to Elena Hut and Mount  Stanley on a steep trail over large boulders, while the trail on your left leads to  Scott-Elliot  Pass and down to Kitandara  Lakes the trail on the left leads those who are not climbing Margherita  Peak to Kitandara Hut. Those climbing the peak will have their Dinner and Overnight at the coolly and Icy Elena Hut.

Day 8: Elena Hut (4541m) to  Margherita peak– Kitandara hut (4027m)
For those aiming at reaching Margherita’s peak (5109m), continue to the base of the Stanley Glacier. To reach the summit of Margherita, the climb takes about 5-7 hours depending on the weather conditions and the pace of climbing this mountain. This tough walk takes you over three glaciers, slippery rock, ice, and very exposed areas which are open on many sides. Note that this climb is for only physically fit and technical climbers. Climbing onto the glaciers, cross the Stanley Plateau, and proceed with the ascent. Acclimatized to fog, altitude sickness, and coolly weather, scramble up to the summit of Margherita the highest peak of the Rwenzoris. Given the high altitude and the tough conditions even if you do not reach the peak, don’t get disappointed. Prepare for your return through the Scott-Elliot pass, where there are spectacular views back to  Bujuku  Lake and  Mount  Speke, up to  Mount  Stanley, and down to the  Kitandara  Lakes. After the trail that passes you through an alpine zone of sparse vegetation and rough boulders, descend past the  Kitandara Lakes for dinner and overnight at the Kitandara.

Day 9: Kitandara (4027m) –  Freshfi  eld  Pass (4282m) – Guy Yeoman (3450m)
From Kitandara, take on the trail that ascends steeply up the headwall, spreading out from the base of  Mount Baker and continuing along the south side of the mountain to Fresh field Pass. At this point, you can view the  Congo to the west and  Mount  Stanley to the north. From the pass, take on the long trail passing the rock shelter at Bujongolo, the base camp for the historic expedition by the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906. Overnight at Guy yeoman.

Day 10: Guy Yeoman (3450m) – Nyabitaba (2651m)
The descent to Nyabitaba takes around 6 -7 hours but with an early start, it is possible to make it all the way down to Nyakalengija. Below Guy Yeoman, the route descends the cliffs of Kichuchu. Beyond Kichuchu the muddy path crosses the  Mubuku  River twice before climbing upwards to Nyabitaba to complete the circuit.

Day 11: Nyabitaba (2651m) – Nyakalengija (1615m)
The descent from Nyabitaba to Nyakalengija takes 3 – 4 hours, overnight at Rwenzori Mountaineering Safari Lodge.

Day 12: Game drive through to Bwindi
Breakfast at the lodge and drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park, expect an encounter with animals like Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions, Antelopes, and Tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector.  Arrive in Bwindi by evening, dinner, and overnight at Buhoma community rest camp.

May: Day 13: Gorilla Trekking
This is your day for a lifetime event. In the morning, move to the park headquarters for briefing from the park rangers, before heading for the adventurous activity of gorilla tracking. The trails will take you through a thick forest with the steep and slippery floors, so get ready to get dirty. The tracking may take 2-6 hours depending on the movement of the Gorillas in their natural environment. One hour will be allowed with the animals as you take photos and ask questions you need to know.

Then descend to your lodge for relaxation. In the evening, you may go for a community walk, where you will visit the Batwa community who will give you lots of entertainment, and you get to learn more about the unique behavior of these “Short People”. Dinner and overnight stay at Buhoma community rest camp.

Day 14: Departure
Breakfast at the lodge and transfer back to Kampala with en-route lunch in Mbarara town, also stop at the equator for photographs, proceed directly to Entebbe airport for your scheduled departure flight.
End of the tour