Rwenzori Mountains – Central Circuit

Much of the Snow Capped Rwenzori Mountains can be climbed by anyone who is reasonably fit without special equipment other than good hiking boots, warm and waterproof clothing. However most of the higher peaks and certain other sections do require mountaineering equipment and previous experience.

Central Circuit Trail (7 to 9 days plus travel time between Kampala and the mountains)

Day 1: Arrival

Arrive at Entebbe, transfer to Kasese (Margherita hotel).

Day 2: Nyabitaba Hut (2652m)

After breakfast, transfer to park headquarters at Nyakalengija. This is the starting point, where you will have your luggage weighed, meet the porters, chef and guide and have a debriefing for the trip. The day’s hiking is fairly easy to Nyabitaba hut. On your way to the park boundary, you will go through coffee plantations, garden plots and homesteads. After the park boundary, the trail follows River Mubuku on your right and you will cross small rivers, rocks and bluffs before reaching River Muhoma. Then make a climb through ferns and the forest and then finally onto Nyabitaba hut (2652m). 5-7 hour climb.

Day 3: Hiking up to John Matte (3414m)

This is considered to be the longest and most tiring day of the circuit, so an early start is vital. From Nyabitaba Hut, move westward and drop steeply at River Mubuku which you cross at Kurt Shaffer Bridge. After the bridge, move anticlockwise and use the muddy, slippery trail that climbs to the bamboo zone. Enter the moorland zone with giant tree heather and groundsel. Have a stop at Nyamileju Hut for lunch and to enjoy the view of Mt Speke and Mt Stanley if the day is clear. After lunch proceed following River Mubuku and hiking through giant Robelia, groundsel and challenging bog before finally arriving at John Matte.

Day 4: Hiking to Bujuku Hut

Leave John Matte hut and head for Bujuku (3962m). The hike takes up to 5 hours, crossing the Bujuku River, you will enter into the Lower Bigo Bog, using the board walk and through a steep climb (metallic ladders) you will reach the Bigo Hut. Past the Bigo Hut is the Upper Bigo Bog before reaching the beautiful Lake Bujuku. At the southern end of this lake is a majestic setting with Mt Baker in the South, Mt Speke in the North and Mt Stanley in the west. Take the lake trail to the north end and a rock shelter called cooking pot then on a short, distance further to Bujuku Hut. If you intend to climb Mt Speke (requires climbing experience skill and special equipment) make Bujuku Hut your base which allows an extra nights stay to do this climb.

Day 5: Elena Base and Ktandara Hut

a) If you intend to scale the highest point in the Rwenzoris (Margherita 5109m) then make Elena your base. It is 3-4 hours from Bujuku Hut and 2km off the central circuit trail. (Hiking the peak requires climbing experience, skill and special equipment).

b) If you are not climbing the Margherita peak, move south from Bujuku Hut to Kitandara (4023m) hiking to the highest point on the circuit trail Scott Elliot Pass (4372m). From there go through the giant groundsel and descend to Kitandara lakes. Kitandara huts are positioned on the shores of the lakes and it takes 3-4 hours from Bujuku hut.

Day 6: Scaling and Hiking to the Peaks (optional)

Climb Margherita in the Mt Stanley complex and then descend to Kitandara hut. To scale Margherita you will need special equipment such as ice axes, ropes, boots and crampons.

Day 7: Descending to guy Yeoman Hut

An early start from Kitandara huts is advisable in order to avoid over heating on the steppes. Walk through fresh fields which traverse beautiful alpine mossy glades. The trail can be very slippery and difficult to trace especially when it’s rainy and misty. Bujongolo and Kabamba rock shelter can be an option for an overnight stopover. Alternatively it is best to push on through the endless mud of Kabamba bog to Guy Yeoman Hut.

Day 8: Last Day on Circuit

Last day on the circuit trail. Descend down the steep valley to Kichuchu rock shelter. The trail is difficult and muddy in some spots so help each other and descend slowly. Go through the bamboo forest and the bog, cross the Mahoma River and other two minor streams before finally descending back into tropical vegetation. Follow a ridge down to Nyabitaba Hut (5 hours). Depending on the condition of your knees, you may decide to push on to Nakalengija (2-3 hours).

Day 9: End of Safari

Return to Kampala and end of mountain trekking