See the great enthralling game including elephants, tree climbing lions, buffalo, hippos, leopards and many more. Track Chimpanzees in Kyambura gorge. Go mountaineering in the Rwenzori Mountains. An expedition to the Rwenzori is an exhilarating and rewarding experience. The central circuit hike takes six nights/seven days and reaches an altitude of 14000 ft (4267 m) above sea level. The conditions on the mountain are a challenge to even an experienced hiker. The mountain is re-known for its un-engineered, steep and slippery trails and frequent rain characterized by cold temperatures, bogs, mud, steep terrain and high altitude. Nevertheless it is exciting.
For these conditions adequate clothing are a must. Due to hash weather conditions the best season for Climbing is between July-August and December-February. Porters will be carrying your heavy equipment and food, leaving you a small pack with raingear, warm clothes (on higher sections), camera, water bottle, snacks and lunch. On your way to Kampala make a stopover in Lake Mburo national park for the zebras, baboons, kobs and elands. Don’t miss the water and weight experiments at the equator.
Day 1: Entebbe - Kampala - Bwindi.
Arrive at Entebbe International Airport, meet M21093 staff before transferring to Kampala, for refreshments. At 9am, drive southwest from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. En-route; stop over at the Equator and participate in the water experiment and get to know changes in your body weight. Carryon and arrive in Mbarara in time for lunch at Agip Motel (one hour lunch break). Continue to the rising Kigezi hills while descending to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a typical tropical rain forest with dense undergrowth. Dinner & Overnight: Buhoma Homestead.
Day 2: Bwindi Gorilla Tracking - Queen Elizabeth.
After an early morning briefing by the ranger guide, go gorilla tracking (subject to permit availability at the time of booking). Tracking the gorillas through the impenetrable forest requires patience and endurance, sometimes walking for many hours in the mud and rain. The time taken and the terrain vary with the Gorilla movements. Coming face to face with man’s shy cousins in the jungle is an inspiring moment. Carry packed lunch. In the afternoon, travel to Queen Elizabeth via Ishasha- a home to the tree climbing lions. Take on the northern circuit for the game drive. Lookout in the fig tree branches for the tree climbing lions. Ishasha also offers great scenery. Don’t miss the large numbers of kobs in the sector. Dinner & Overnight: Ishasha Wildness Camp.
Day 3: Queen Elizabeth.
Early morning at 6:00 am, drive to Mweya park headquarters. The route offers high chances of sporting elephants, buffaloes, kobs and lots of birds. Drive time is five hours. Visit the mini-museum at Mweya and relax while waiting for the 14:00 launch cruise. After a one hour lunch break at Mweya Safari Lodge, go for the launch cruise on the Kazinga Channel. Expect to see hippos, possibly the highest hippo concentration in Africa, elephants, buffalos and abundant brilliantly waterside bird life providing an excellent platform for photography and game viewing. Don’t miss herds of buffaloes trundle to the water for a drink on the eastern bank of the channel. Cruise time; 2-3 hrs. In the evening, relax and enjoy the spectacular sunset over Lake Edward. Dinner & Overnight: Mweya Safari Lodge, Ecological Guest House
Day 4: Queen Elizabeth - Rwenzori.
Early morning, take an excursion to Kasenyi area for the game drive. Known as the kob mating grounds, Kasenyi offers high chances of spotting the lions. The area has great scenery and diverse physical landforms. Carry with you packed lunch. Connect to the northern crater area, a place full of dark lakes and rich grasslands set deep into volcanic craters. The baboon cliff is a stunning view point where the landscape drops dramatically and one feels perched on the edge of the World. Expect to see a variety of flora and fauna most especially kobs, lions, elephants and many more. One hour lunch break at the viewing platform. In the afternoon, take an excursion to Kyambura gorge arriving in time for the 14:30 chimpanzee tacking activity. The activity takes 2-3 hours walking through the forest in a gorge while looking for the chimps. Expect to see black and white colobus monkeys, hippos and lots of birds. Connect to Kasese Town Arriving late in the evening. Dinner and overnight: Hotel Margherita.
Day 5: Nyakalengiya.
After breakfast, drive to Nyakalengiya Park headquarters to be availed with guides and porters. Set off hiking from trail head (1646 m) walking past typical “mud and wattle” Bakonjo homes and gradually moving upward through elephant grass and garden plots. The trail then follows the Mubuku River, crossing recent landslide areas, and involves climbing over rock and bluff, before reaching the Mahoma River. After crossing the river there will be a steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and podorcarpus forest up to Nyabitaba hut. During this part of the trip you may be able to hear chimpanzees and sometimes you can see black and white Colobus and Blue monkeys behind the hut, and catch glimpse of brilliantly coloured Rwenzori Turaco. Total time for an average hiker from Nyakalengija to Nyabitaba is about 5-7 hours. Total elevation gained is 4000 ft (1200 m). Overnight: Nyabitaba hut 8700 ft (2652 m).
Day 6: Nyabitaba - John Matte.
From Nyabitaba hut the trail leads westwards, and then drops steeply to Kurt Shaffer Bridge crossing below the confluence of the Bujuku and Mubuku rivers. By turning right to the bridge you begin to climb the central circuit anticlockwise since the clockwise direction is much more difficult and adds considerable danger for you and your porters. After crossing Kurt Shaffer Bridge the muddy, slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest you encounter an area or slippery moss covered ground the most difficult footing of the circuit. Proceed to Nyamiliju hut and its accompanying rock shelter. Nyamiliju also marks the start of giant lobelias. A walk to John Matte is through a challenging bog, full of extraordinary plants, and the slow pace can be a delightful chance to examine and photograph this unique environment. Some hikers consider this to be the most tiring and longest day of the circuit, so an early start is important. Typical time to reach John Matte hut from Nyabitaba hut is about seven hours. Elevation gain (3000 ft/915 m). Overnight: John Matte hut (Hut 11200 ft. /3414 M)
Day 7: John Matte - Bujuku.
Leave John Matte Hut to cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower Bigo bog, where your first real experience of jumping from tussock to tussock on a grassy bog begins. A steep section past the hut leads to upper Bigo bog. In the last half of this bog, a board walk has been constructed; this makes walking easier and prevents the hikers from damaging the bog. After crisscrossing the river, you reach Lake Bujuku. The southern end of the Lake is in a majestic setting, with Mt. Baker to the south, Mt. Stanley to the West, and Mt. Speke to the North. The trail route along the lake’s north-eastern shore crosses the worst mud on the trip. Beyond the lake is a rock shelter called Cooking pot and a short distance further is Bujuku hut 13000 ft (3962 M), the shaded location and frequent mist can make Bujuku hut quite cold. If one moved around on a nature walk, the chances of seeing Duikers are high, and at night calls of the rock Hyraxes are common. Time to reach Bujuku from John Matte is 3-5 hours; the elevation gained is 1800 ft (560 M). Overnight: Bujuku Hut
Day 8: Bujuku - Elena.
From Bujuku hut leave directly to newer trail which rises and falls and finally climbs steeply through magical moss draped Groundsel vegetation 14,345 ft (4372 M) to Scott Elliott Pass. Ascend to Elena- this is a steep rocky trail which when wet or icy can be very slippery. Continuing straight and a few steps below the pass, there is a sheltered spot for a break; from here, there is a second trail to the right to Elena hut. Elena is the base camp for climbing 16763 ft (5109 M) to Margherita Peak in the Mount Stanley complex, which requires an additional day or two and can only be attempted with an ice axe, mountain boots, crampons, ropes and prior arrangements with RMS guides. The circuit trail continues to the left over Scott Elliot Pass and enters an alpine zone of sparse low vegetation. As you leave the pass, you may enjoy spectacular views northward of Margherita Peak. Time to reach Kitandara Hut from Bujuku hut usually takes 3-5 hours. The elevation gain to the pass from Bujuku is 1400 ft (425 M). Overnight: Elena Hut 14700 ft (4430 M), (FB).
Day 9: Margherita.
For those who might not manage or do not wish to climb Margherita peak due to expected altitude sickness and fog making their climbing ability lesser, the option of continuing left via Scot Elliot pass to Kitandara lake would be a good idea. Through the beautiful scenery this will connect you to a two day descending stretch. Alternatively for those who are still fit may climb further up to the summit of Margherita (5109 m). Here crampons and roping up may be necessary. Then descend to Scot Elliot pass continue past Lake Kitandara through mud up to Kitandara hut. Overnight: Kitandara Hut (4023 m).
Day 10: Guy Yeoman.
On this day after break fast descend to Guy Yeoman via a steep but lovely hour-long climb from the base of Mt. Baker. On a clear day views to the Democratic Republic of Congo on the west and Mt. Stanley to the North is possible. The descent continues via Bujangolo rock shelters; the base camp for the historic expedition by Duke Abruzzi in 1906. Time to reach Guy Yeoman hut from Kitandara is about 5-8 hrs. Overnight: Guy Yeoman.
Day 11: Nyabitaba.
Hikers should begin their journey so early, so as to get to Nyabitaba hut before dark. In any case the pass from the Guy Yeoman is quite difficult in some spots. The trail down can be muddy and very slippery so helping each other and descending very slowly facing the slope instead of facing outward is recommended. Late evening walking can be good for watching birds and you may sight the occasional Blue tailed Monkey. Typical Hikers make Guy Yeoman to Nyabitaba in 5-6 hours. Overnight: Nyabitaba hut (2650 m).
Day 12: Descend gently to Nyakalengija trail Head (1600 m) Park Headquarters. Depending on your body fitness, this can take about 2-3 hours. Carry on to Margherita Hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, retrace your journey back to Kampala. Relax before flying out the next day. Or transfer to Entebbe airport for your flight (HB). Departure time on your flight must be after 18:00.
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