Hiking The Rwenzoris

But that said it warms my heart to just think about the journey. It was absolutely stunning. I once got lost in the Himalayas(really wasn’t my fault, but moving on) and we all know that’s a cool mountain range, but the Rwenzoris was something unique. I really didn’t know what to expect but it was like nothing else. So we have a 7 day hike that takes you through rain forest, bamboo forest, tree fern forest, wetlands and this area where everything is cowered in moss. And I mean moss – moss thicker than a luxury mattress at the Hilton (well they are actually not that thick, the mattresses, but you get my point). Getting higher up you hike through vegetation that makes you feel a bit bug-like, giant plants (lobelia) surrounding you. It’s verysurreal. We are talking Tim Burton-surreal here. It’s amazing.

 

What was I thinking? Margerita peak is at 5109 metres, across a glacier. I’m Swedish and I came to Uganda to get away from the winter! When the guides said it was cold up there I knew what they were talking about properly cold! As in glacier cold.

So – back to the cold. I do have to say the nights are cold. No big surprises there but once the camp fire is up and running it gets pretty cozy, for a while, but then you have to go to bed. On a serious note, it’s no worse than you’d expect – get good clothes fit for purpose and you’re good to go.

Being a photographer I have to bring up the subject. The landscape photography is awesome, as is the night photography. Starlit nights high in the mountains – couldn’t get better. There’s no power, of course, so bring plenty of batteries.

We didn’t see much wildlife. It’s there (there are chimps around, as well as colobus monkeys) but the Rwenzoris are all about the flora and the scenery!

Trekkers need to take their time on this journey, as the body must adjust to the altitude. That gives photographers plenty of time to explore, take photographs and to really take in one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited.

The Rwenzoris can be a challenge, and you will need to “step it up” if you are aiming for the peak. You will be crossing the glacier and there will be some parts that are physically demanding. Nothing too extreme but a bit of a challenge, nonetheless. Then you need to get down again. It can be steep and can provide if not a physical then a mental challenge. Leaving the peak aside, one can just trek up to base camp at 4541 metres at a more relaxed pace, enjoying the scenery and taking your time. I’d say anyone with some trekking experience can make it. You’ll feel your muscles working but it’s a good feeling and the strategically placed huts and resting points makes it easy to decide to stop there and not to go further up.

Bujuku camp, for instance, next to the lake at 3962 meters, is a beautiful place to just stay and linger. (Note; I haven’t been throwing around fancy words and names of plants and vegetation zones the “where, how high and what’s”, but I’d be happy to fill in any blanks if anyone wants more info. Peter.hogel@hotmail.com)

The cover photo of this edition of Expats In Uganda is a shot of The Rwenzoris, taken by Shannon Orcutt. It was the winning entry in our recent Photographer of the Year Competition.

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