Uganda – Ruwenzori Mountains National Park
The Ruwenzori National Park, established in 1993, is 120 kilometres long and 43 kilometres wide and covers a fantastic icy world and afro-alpine vegetation created by the Ruwenzori mountains. Mount Stanley, which at 5109m above sea level is the third highest mountain in the continent, is located in this park. It was named after the famous explorer of the same name who was the first outsider to sight the mountain during his 1887 expedition. The Ruwenzori mountains, literally meaning “rain-maker”, rose due to the formation of the East African Rift Valley system, and – unlike other high mountains such as Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya – are not volcanic mountains. The mountains bring an average of over 5 meters of rainfall to the area and the snow peaks are visible for only a few days in the year.
Tourists visit the park to go to the higher mountains, which excite both the experienced mountaineer as well as the casual trekker. Visitors can take the “Central Circuit Trail”, which requires 6-7 days and reaches the higher mountains. However, these trips can only be undertaken during the driest periods – July , August and December to February. Bad weather at other times makes these trips impossible, impractical or disappointing. The park has a large variety of afro-alpine vegetation, including giant lobelias and groundsels. Visitors get a chance to view animals like the chimpanzee and other primates, elephant, bushbuck, giant forest hog, hyrax and leopard. Some of the unique birds found in the region are the Ruwenzori Turaco, Francolin, Olive pigeon and White-necked raven.