Hiking safaris in Uganda take place mainly in two national parks:
The Rwenzori Mountains, or the Mountains of the Moon, are easily Africa’s best kept secret. Rarely visited and isolated, they contain much of Africa’s permanent ice and the most varied mountain scenery as we climb from tropical rainforest, through alpine valleys to the glaciers.
On the block Rwenzori mountain range where youcan hike for 3-8 days or even more depending on the time you want to spend on the mountain. Rwenzori Mountain has 6 peaks, Mt Stanley (5,109m), Mt Speke (4,890m) Mt Baker (4,843m), Mt Emin (4,798m), Mt Gessi (4,715m) and Mt Luigi di Savoia (4,627m). The highest peak is Margherita peak (5,109) making Rwenzori Mountains the 3rd highest in Africa and the highest block mountain in Africa.
While on the Rwenzori, you will encounter Pristine tropical rainforest, trek through Giant Lobelia forests while you can enjoy views from the summit of Margherita Peak (5109m) and remote alpine valleys and glacial landscapes.
A trek in the Rwenzori includes a challenging ascent on Margherita (5109m), Africa’s 3rd highest mountain. This is a demanding ascent with muddy conditions and variable weather almost guaranteed. The real beauty of the trip is the ascent up the Kilembe route where the diverse flora in the forests and valleys includes giant heather, lobelia, groundsels and exuberant ferns.
The Rwenzori’s are very wet mountains and the trails are small and often boggy underfoot. You will need specialist gear for this trip such as gaiters, walking boots and a spare pair of shoes for around camp. A walking pole helps balance over rocky bits. The last section up to the summit of Margherita is a hard scramble (but well worth it). You will need to be roped up and use crampons (ropes, harnesses and crampons are provided and the guides will give instructions in their use). A comprehensive gear list is included in the pre-departure information that will be provided on booking. The exhilaration of reaching the top is enormous, as you look across Albert Peak to the Congo then east across the chain of the Rwenzori Mountains.
The second popular hike is that of the dormant volcano mountain Elgon. Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano, second highest in Uganda and the fourth highest in East African. Its name derives from the Massai name of “Ol Doinyo Ilgoon” which translates to “Breast Mountain” on the Kenya side and was also known as “Masaba” on the Ugandan side.
Mount Elgon is favored by Travel House because it is less crowded than Kilimanjaro and yet is as spectacular with a lot of chances of spotting wildlife on the slopes. There are several waterfalls on the slopes, and there are even hot springs to soak in inside the crater! Climbing the mountain is an experience not soon forgotten.
Its highest peak is Wagagi Peak which is 4321 metres high and there are other major peaks which are Jackson’s summit 4165m, Kiongo 4303m and Mubiyi 4210m. One can do a hiking safari to these mountains alone or combine it with other national parks to enjoy wildlife, chimpanzee, and gorillas for a wonderful experience in Uganda
The Wagagai route is the most popular and takes at least 3 days trekking. However to explore the Elgon mountain fully, one needs 5 days package of hiking. Other trails include:
The Sasa River Route, the best routes up the mountain with attractions along the route including a good chance of seeing Colobus and Blue Monkeys, as well as other wildlife, and side trips to waterfalls, hot springs, the crater floor and other summits. Because of all the wonderful side trips available, five to six days is recommended.
The Piswa Route is one other route commonly used from the north and from Kapwata. It is said to be longer and less steep than the Sasa River Route. Round trip distance is 49 kms and seven days is recommended.
The Sipi Route is a new route that has been constructed from Sipi Falls. This would make a fine loop with the Sasa River Route. Round trip distance is 56 kms and four to six days is recommended.
Best time to Climb Mt. Elgon:There are 4 seasons and two of these are dry seasons. One is mid-December through March, and the other one is June and July. Trekking during the dry season is highly recommended. The weather is wet very often, even in the dry season. No accurate weather forecasts are available for the area, other than it will be drier in the dry season and wetter in the wet season.
Other hiking opportunities are found in south western Uganda at Mgahinga national park. The three mountains of the virunga Volcanoes Mt Muhabura (4127m), Mt Gahinga (3474m), and Mt Sabinyo (3,6450m) provide a great challenge to mountain climbers. Climbing any of these mountains will take a day and time ranges from 6 to 10 hours up and back depending on one’s strength. They will enable you see the three boarders; that of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo including the Nyiragongo active Volcano.