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Example trip: Walking adventure - discover the mountains

Explore Uganda actively in the footsteps of the explorers, Baker, Stanley and Speke

“Uganda, the pearl of Africa. It is the land of romance and of the unexpected.”

–Henry Morton Stanley, 1898

The Baker Trail

Explorer Samuel Baker was delighted when he saw Lake Albert, the immense lake on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, in the far West of the country. More than five years he and his wife Florence, together with  a caravan of oxen, had travelled on foot from Sudan to this place. He eventually discovered the then unknown Lake Albert. He wrote in hid diary:

“The day broke beautifully clear, and having crossed a deep valley between the hills, we toiled up the opposite slope. I hurried to the summit. The glory of our prize burst suddenly upon me! There, like a sea of quicksilver, lay far beneath the grand expanse of water, - a boundless sea horizon on the south and south-west, glittering in the noon-day sun; and on the west, at fifty or sixty miles' distance, blue mountains rose from the bosom of the lake to a height of about 7,000 feet above its level. It is impossible to describe the triumph of that moment; - here was the reward for all our labour - for the years of tenacity with which we had toiled through Africa.”   - Samuel White Baker, The Albert N'Yanza, 1864.

Last year, 150 years later, American anthropologist Julian Monroe Fisher stepped in their footsteps by making the same journey of 575 (!) km. RunguTours participated in this project by supporting him logistically.

Vegetation Uganda RunguTours

Typical vegetation on the Rwenzori Mountains, Mountains of the Moon

Rwenzori Mountains

The trips below are made together with specialised mountain guides. RunguTours will arrange them for you.

“ You may be familiar with the Alps and the Kaukasus, the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains, if you have not roamed the Rwenzori Mountains, there is still lots to discover"- Explorer Douglas Freshfield

If you have good legs, you can make a multi-day hike into the Rwenzori mountains.Out of the four peaks, the first three have been namend after explorers: Baker (4843m), Stanley (4563), Speke (4890m) and Margherita (5109).

Bamboo forest on the flanks of the Rwenzoris 

These mountains  border on the Democratice Republic of Congo. This national park (120 by 50 km), with peaks of over 5000 m, is the highest mountain chain of the African continent. But different from Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Kenya) and Mount Kenya (Kenya) is that these Mountains of the Moon, as they were called by the ancient Greeks, only attract 1500 to 2000 visitors per year. Their high season is around the European and North American Summer season, so then it might be more busy.

The Mahoma Trail is used since 2012 and together with the 'old trail' it is the most interesting but also the more challenging of the eigght different trails through this vast national park. Both trails give access to the perpetual snow of Mount Margherita for which mountaineering experience is required.

 

Plant Lobelia Uganda Hiking
Iconic plant at a height of between 3700 and 4300 metres: the giant lobelia which can grow to over 5 metres tall

The richt and diverse vegetation is overwhelming. The first 300m are long and steep. The ancient wet forest, full of tropical plants, creepers, high bushes and tall trees gives way, after two hours of walking, on to a large open field full of enormous, dense ferns. The small trail almost disappears in the green sea of plants. The ground is slippery, leaves are scattered everywhere. We need to stop to catch our breath. On the way, it is possible to spot the Blue Monkey or the rare three-horned chameleon, that lives only here. If you have a good condition, you can climb to the second camp near Lake Mahoma, at 3300 m. The meandering trail runs through untouched forest and offers beautiful views on green alps.

Chameleon Uganda
Three-horned Chameleon

The passing to the 'mikado-wood' marks the beginning of the second zone. The tall 'bars' offer a mysterious still life, many plants have fallen down. The forest is dense, the sky is barely visible. The birds' singing fades, silence reigns. Wisps of lianas are everywhere, the solid bamboo is covered with moss. The fine leaves on the ground give way to squishy goo. Here the elephant trail starts. The bamboo suddenly disappears and we see the fairy-like Chionanthus Virginicus, better known as Old man’s Beard.Tee long mossy threads remind of a long beard. On the other side of the slope the magnificent Rukenga Valley reveals itself. High, swampy grasses prevail complemented by Old man’s Beard trees. Everywhere we see the ever blooming flowers (mimulopsis eliotti) and the giant lobelias are showing off. The robust Lobelia Bequaertii has a rosette-like collar and a diameter of 80 cm. It is the only species with almost bowl-shaped bracts, that can grow as tall as 5 metres. Some species grow more than 10 m tall. If you want to see more of these lobelias, you have to track for at least 4 day, because they grow at heights of 3700 to 4300 m. At the edge of the valley there is a small alp stream. it is true paradise, and it is only half-way this trip. 

For more information about the different possibilities, please contact us. We are happy to inform you about the different multi-day hikes.

Practical information

RunguTours can organise a tour for those who want to thread in the footsteps of Samuel and Florence Baker. Duration: from a minimal 2 or 3 days to a maximal 12 days. Bring your own sleeping bags and pillow. RunguTours provides small tents, mattrasses, porters, a cook and a ranger.

This can be well combined with Queen Elizabeth NP, Bwindi NP, Magahinga Gorilla NP, Semliki NP or Kibale NP.

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