Kilembe-Rwenzori Mountains Trail Safari
This Kilembe-Rwenzori Mountains Trail Safari is a challenge to be enjoyed by nature lovers and mountaineers; with fantastic views, stunning valleys. It also includes a wide variety of plants and trees and unlike Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya which are stand alone mountains and which are relatively short and direct in climbing, the Rwenzori is a mountain range, in fact the highest mountain range in Africa, and as such there are many ups and downs in climbing to the peaks. Even when coming down from the main peaks you have to do a lot of climbing. The Rwenzori Mountains receives about three (3) meters of rain per year resulting in the lush and varied plant life and many wet areas and bogs. The heavy rainfall also results in many species of plants and birds and small animals which is a huge plus as the environment is spectacular.
The Kilembe Trail was opened in June 2009 and is one of the best trails in Africa , linking Kilembe to the various peaks in the Rwenzori Mountains.
Today you drive to Lake Mutanda in the southwestern part of Uganda, close to the borders with Rwanda and Congo. You cross a beautiful part of the country, where you will see crater lakes, forest, bamboos and great sceneries over the Virunga Mountains. You will stay in a nice middle class lodge with a wonderful view over LakeMutanda and theVirunga Volcanoes
For this Kilembe-Rwenzori Mountains Trail Safari, today is the big day… Prepare yourself for an encounter with one of Bwindi’s gentle Giants: the rare Mountain Gorilla. For most people this is the absolute highlight of their tour In Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest boasts of both Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees; the only forest in Africa which can make this claim in fact. It also hosts five other species of primates, 113 species of mammal, over 200 butterfly species and about 360 bird species. The Gorillas you will track belong to one of seven habituated family groups who can tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day.
Your trek will be an exciting Journey along forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes and bamboo before you eventually reach the Gorillas’ habitat. En-route, your guide will point out signs of previous Gorilla activity including; dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. The time taken to track the Gorillas can be as little as 2 hours to as much as 7 hours before one returns to the camp!. Then once the Gorillas have been located, your group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. Coming face to face with a Mountain Gorilla is a truly humbling and emotional experience. This is a fantastic and privileged opportunity to get up close and personal with Uganda’s very own ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.
We depart early today, because it’s a fairly long drive to Kilembe. This is where your simple but reasonable guesthouse is situated. From here you will start the Rwenzori Trekking tomorrow. Trekkers Hostel is 12 kilometers from Kasese town in a deep valley at the end of the road leading to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Then behind the hostel, meanders the Nyamwamba River; the valley the Kilembe trail follows deep into the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The surroundings are delightfully green and you can enjoy the cool weather as the hostel is situated at 1,450 meters which is nearly 500 meters in height above Kasese town. But make sure you bring something to drink and to bite on the way.
Meet your guides for briefing at 9 am. Then you walk 2.2km to the UWA rangers post at 1,727metres. Today’s walk 8.6 km expected time 5 to 7 hours Start height is 1,667 meters climbing to 3,171 meters. The first two kilometers climbs steadily through pristine Montana forest, with tall trees, thick undergrowth and a multitude of different species of birds and primates. Then a fairly strenuous climb up a main ridge with few rocks and firm footing except immediately after a heavy downpour climbing to your first night at Samalira Camp. As you leave the rangers post, you walk along a path through tall grassland and ferns; which gives way to magnificent pristine forests. As this is a new route, the forests are untouched and carry a wide variety of trees and plants.
Many species of birds can be heard and seen in this rich environment. The first few kilometers climb steadily crossing several small streams and Rivers; then we start climbing the ridge. As we climb, the trees become taller and straighter; and it is common to see and hear many types of primates. On the left, you may hear troupes of chimpanzee echoing around the valleys. Particularly around our lunch spot at 2,570m, it is possible to see troupes of 20 or more black and white Colobus monkeys or Blue monkeys as they dash through the trees.
Then after lunch, we continue to climb steadily passing a rock shelter (2,785m); previously used by poachers to hunt primates and dika (small antelope). After the rock shelter, the climb enters the bamboo zone and becomes steeper. Then as we near the top, we break out of the bamboo to fantastic views of the valleys and hills below looking across Lake George and Queen Elisabeth National Park in the distance. The equator lies just north of Lake George. Samalira Camp is at 3,147 meters, meaning views or lookout and offers great views of the surrounding land.
After a hearty breakfast, we commence walking at 8.15 and initially climb steadily; then cross a small stream and the climb becomes steep for about 200 meters up a narrow moss covered ridge. The thick moss covering the ground and rocks under the giant heather trees is spectacular; and we ask you to help preserve this pristine environment by keeping to the pathway. The views give us the impression that we could fly as we look across the many ridges and valleys far below.
You can see Kilembe village deep in the valley and across Lake George. After a relatively short climb, the trail becomes less steep as we pass over Chavumba (meaning heaven) at 3,316m. Then cross a small flat valley to climb up a steady ridge through moss covered trees and misty forests to the top of the ridge at 3,515 meters. Here we descend steadily for about one kilometer before descending a steep slope of 200 meters into the Nyamwamba valley; and a well earned lunch break at Polies Rock Shelter 3,249 meters. After lunch, we climb steadily above the Nyamwamba River for 1.6km through old giant Heathers covered in old man’s beard moss to Kiharo Camp at 3,588 meters. This is directly at the base of some good granite rock climbs of 20 to 40 meters, with towering peaks above. Sleep at Kiha.
Start height is 3,380 meters climbing to 4,200 meters on the top of the confluence between the two valleys; then dropping to Camp 3 at 4,030 meters. We start by ascending to pass through Bamwanjara Pass then descend to Kachope Lakes. The top of the pass trail offers spectacular scenery of the main peaks ahead; particularly on a clear day. After an early breakfast we climb a short steep climb through the narrow valley with large moss covered rocks. This area is stunning as you weave through the narrow passes near the foot of towering peaks till you reach the wider upstream Nyamwamba River.
Then from here, you climb steadily along the valley floor with small bogs and many giant lobelias. Both sides of the valley are lined with sheer cliff faces as we near the confluence of the Nyamwamba and Namusangi valleys. Our third camp at 4,065 meters, is above Lake Kopello and has spectacular views looking down the valley of nine glacier lakes, the Namusangi valley. Then sleep at Camp 3.
Start height is 4,030 meters climbing to 4,450 meters on the top of Bamwanjara Pass; then dropping to Camp 3 at 4,006 meters. We start by ascending to pass through Bamwanjara Pass then descend to Kachope Lakes. The top of the pass trail also offers spectacular scenery of the main peaks ahead; Particularly on a clear day. We start by descending to pass through Bamwanjara Pass to Kachope Lakes; a trail that offers spectacular scenery of the main peaks ahead where on a clear day you can see Mt Stanley, Mt Speke in the centre and Mt Baker.
On the right one, can see McConnell’s Prong named after a British explorer and geologist. The view is awesome!! The Kachope Lakes area is one of the three known areas where on a misty day one may catch a rare glimpse of the Rwenzori leopard. Little research has been done on this animal yet it is rarer than the snow leopard; which has gained so much attention in recent years. After passing Kachope Lakes, we climb to Camp four at 4,006 meters. Then sleep at Camp 4.
Start height is 4,006 meters climbing to 4,333 meters at Camp 5. Today is a relatively easy walk past Kitandara Lakes and climb through Sott Elliott pass to our camp situated right on the pass with fantastic views down the valley to Lake Bujuku and Mt Speke. To the south, you see Kitandara Lakes and Wisemans Peak. The camp is at 4,460 meters in a flat sheltered position covered with moss where you can get a good sleep before climbing any of the peaks on Mt Stanley; including Margherita and Alexandra Peaks. Then sleep at Camp 5
Start height 4,460 meters climbing to 5,109 meters on top of Margherita Peak. Here, it is best to start climbing no later than 3.30am. So is best to get up at 3am have a quick cup of coffee or tea and some light high energy snacks and set off. It takes about one and a half hours to reach Elena hut (4,540m) which we bypass on the way to the peaks. After Elena, the climb is steep but firm underfoot as you are walking on hard rock. Then you reach the edge of the glacier at 4,765 meters where you will need to put on crampons and harnesses at set distances. Although there is few crevices, the guide will lead the way as one never knows.
The scenery is spectacular and as you start to reach the upper areas of the glacier and the saddle between the two peaks Alexandra and Margherita, the sun will just be peeping over the horizon; giving the chance of fantastic photographs of the two main peaks tip with sunlight. You then reach the upper weather station (4,830metres) where you climb down to a ladder (4803 meters) onto the upper glacier leading to Magherita Peaks.
First, you climb up the glacier to a small saddle between Alexandra and Magherita Peaks at 5,025 meters where you scramble up a steep rocky climb to the main peak. At times, the rocks are covered with snow and ice; and may be slippery but mostly it is firm rock. The exhilaration of reaching the top is enormous as you look across Albert Peak to the DRC (Congo); then east across the spectra of the Rwenzori Mountains. After enjoying the scenery and signing the book, you descend using the same path down to Camp 5. Then sleep at Camp 5
Start height, 4,460meters walking down to Camp 4 at 4,006 meters where the trail drops a little more to pass just above Kachope Lakes at 3,985 meters and then over Bamwanjara Pass (4,450 meters) then dropping to Camp 3 at 4,006 meters.
After a good breakfast you walk from Camp five down to Camp 4; which takes a couple of hours passing through Scott Elliot Pass. After a short break at Camp 4, there is a rather tough climb of 450 meters to pass over Bamwanjara Pass then down to Camp 3 at 4,030 meters.
While crossing the pass, you get the Chance to see Hyrax sitting at the entrance to their rock shelter warming in the Middaysun. Their main predator is the Rwenzori Leopard Panthera pardus Rwenzori which is rarely seen. The leopard has been heavily poached in the past and there are few left. However, on a rare occasion on a misty or overcast day you may be lucky to see one briefly as they move between the rocks.
Then sleep at Camp 3
Today we descend via the Namusangi valley across open mooreland and large areas of tussock grass. As this is a valley floor, it is relatively flat and water from farther up the mountains sweeps across the moors; making the going wet and boggy. It is not soil but layers and layers of compressed tussock grass which over the years has transformed to peak. It is a good idea to have rubber boots for this section; although occasionally you may find your foot can sink deeper than a rubber boot. In the near future, we intend to construct a timber boardwalk.
However, this will be after construction of huts. We continue down the valley passing several small waterfalls and moss covered valleys; until we reach the steep rocky section above Mutinda with fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks directly ahead. Then we turn left just as before the river drops over a sheer cliff to the Mutinda valley to walk down several steep slopes; until we reach the valley floor. Here, we again cross the river before climbing to the Mutinda Rock Shelter. Although very beautiful, this section can be tiresome as you scramble over huge boulders on your climb to Mutinda. We have placed big tents under the rock shelter which is large enough for 80 to 100 people to take shelter from the weather. Sleep Mutinda Camp at 3,688 meters
In the morning, you may decide to take the option of climbing to the top of Mutinda Lookout (3,975 meters). This takes about one hour and offers fantastic views as you stand on the moss covered peak. The climb is steep and near the top, we have constructed a wooden ladder to enable you to climb more easily. There is no extra charge for this option and time-wise, it is easy to climb to the lookout and then walk down to Kalalama Camp.
After taking the views at the unique atmosphere, you then descend to the rock shelter and a cup of tea or coffee before descending to Kalalama. This adds about two hours or more to your trek.
The walk down to Kalalama follows mainly down a rocky river; where in places you are required to rock hop down a long side the stream. The atmosphere is truly unique as the valley is closed in and often misty; creating the ideal environment for mosses and lichen.
Then as we near Kalalama Camp, we pass through a flat valley dotted with Giant Lobelia. Some say this is one of the most beautiful sections of the entire trip. Finally, dine and sleep in Kalalama Camp which is perched on a high ridge overlooking the Kilembe valley and Kasese Town.
Distance from Mutinda to Kalalama Camp is 5.1km plus from Kalalama to the Rangers post 11.6km. Then descend down through the bamboo forests which at times get boggy and slippery due to the mass of fallen leaves. During the wet season we cross to the ridge climbing to Samalira camp; just above the lunch spot on day one as the river above Musenge Rock Shelter may be very deep and fast flowing. However, during the dry season we continue directly down the ridge to Musenge shelter and down to the rangers post. Then after debriefing, we sign off and walk down to Trekkers Hostel. Some fast walkers have descended to the rangers post by midday. However majority of the people arrive at the rangers post around 1pm. Then enjoy a peaceful afternoon!
After a 2 hour drive to Fort Portal, you can stretch your legs by making a nice hike around some of the Crater Lakes in this Area. The views are stunning and with clear weather. You can even see the white peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. Then you have lunch in Fort Portal as well (not included)
After this hike, it’s only 1 hour driving to Kibale Forest.
On arrival, you will enter a completely different world… some serious monkey business! Although you are here specifically to track Chimps, the forest is home to at least 12 primate species including: the Red Tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, and the Blue Monkey. The bird life in the forest is also prolific and includes the beautiful Great Blue Turaco. If you are very lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the meandering herd of Forest Elephant. Then you will stay at a nice middle class lodge, located on the edge of the forest.
Today, you will track Chimpanzees and do a swamp walk. Kibale Forest boasts the highest number of primate species in the world; including our delightful cousins, the Chimpanzees. Today, in Uganda, there are approximately 4,950 Chimps left in the wild, which makes it a perfect place to spot them! (Although this cannot be guaranteed). During the trek, your ranger will point out the other species living in the forest, including birds, flora and fauna.
Your swamp walk (2-3 hours) will take you through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery; where the locals are likely to greet you with enthusiastic waves. It is usual to spot 3 or 4 different primate species during this walk, though the highlight is catching a glimpse of the Great Blue Turaco! If you are tired from the Chimpanzee tracking you can do this walk as well tomorrow morning.
Finally on this last day of the Kilembe-Rwenzori Mountains Trail Safari after an early breakfast, you return to Kampala. From Kampala we drive to Entebbe airport for your flight connection. Make sure your flight departs after 6 pm to make sure you can make this program. If your flight leaves earlier we suggest to book an extra night in Entebbe. We hope you had an amazing tour
Please book this tour now via our 24/7 hot lines +256 772 633 920 / +256 705 905 215 OR via our email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
We are warmly waiting for your inquiry!
OR: FIND US AT OUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS
PLOT 1490, GAYAZA ROAD
OFF KUBBIRI ROUNDABOUT
What is included in this safari:
- Hiking fees
- 4 WD Vehicle – with a pop – up roof for scenic viewing
- A professional English speaking driver guide
- Park entrance fees
- Porter fees
- Free Wi-Fi internet in the vehicle
- All ground transportation and fuel
- Accommodation and Meals
- All activities / service as per itinerary
- Drinking water in the vehicle
Exclusions of the safari:
- International air fares
- Activities / services not included in the itinerary
- Alcoholic drinks / wines
- Laundry and any service of personal nature