Also called the rainmaker, Rwenzori Mountains stand at a height of 5109m above sea level making them the third highest mountains on the African continent after Kilimanjaro and Kenya and then the highest block mountains on the continent since the other two mountains are volcanic. The mountain stretches between the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo and on the side of Congo, it is located in the north-eastern side of the country.
The Rwenzori peaks are protected by two national parks which are; Virunga national park of Congo and Rwenzori mountains national park of Uganda. In these parks, there are different trails that can be used to trek and among these include; the central circuit route and the Kilembe southern route in Rwenzori mountains and then Bwamba trail of Congo. Climbing the mountains to Margherita peak is technical and knowledge of ropes and use of crampons by ascenders is necessary. All the guides are trained in ice climbing and rescue and can guide you up with little experience however you must be prepared to learn on the way up and to be able to fit your own crampons and at least tie basic knots and use of ascenders.
Getting to Rwenzori Mountains from Congo
To get to this mountain, you need to fly into Kigali international airport where you will drive to Goma border using a car rental, public means or a trusted tour operator. At the border, you will present a Congo visit visa, hiking permit, passport, and yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed to the country. You will drive to Goma city where you will continue to Mutsora station or your booked accommodation.
Attractions in Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains
Equatorial Snow Peak
Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains comprises of snow fields and a couple of glaciers including; Mt Stanley, Mt Gessi, Mt Baker, etc.
Rwenzori mountains harbours 70 mammal species and, 217 bird species. As you climb up the mountains, you will spot Rwenzori Turaco, Guerrezzas monkey, Cercopithecus (Red tailed monkey guenon), sunlight birds, Chimpanzee, Wildlife are however difficult to spot due to the dense forests. 19 bird species are endemic to the Congo’s Rwenzori Mountain. They Include: Handsome francolin, Cinnamon chested bee-eater, Rwenzoris Batis, Barred long tailed cuckoo, Golden winged sunbird, Slender billed starling, blue headed sunbirds among others.
Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains are occupied with beautiful water falls, unique plat life, mountainous vegetation, snow fields, the vegetation is pervasively covered with beautiful tropical rain forest, Bamboo, Afro-Alpine, Montane Forest, forest heather, podocarp forest and plant species like groundsel, lobelia among others.
Activities carried out in Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains
Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains is one of the popular destinations for mountain climbing where visitors hike to the snow-capped mountain peaks. Mountain climbing is an adventurous activity in Virunga National Park which requires hikers to be physically fit.
Rwenzori Mountains harbors 217 bird species with 19 species endemics to only Rwenzori Mountains hence making it a birding area for birders. Birding in Rwenzori majority starts morning from the starting point to the Montane forest where birders will be able to view differ unique species such as Blue headed sunbird, Long eared Owl, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis, Barred long tailed cuckoo, Crimson wings, Montane sooty bou bou, Purple breasted sunbird, stripe breast tit, western green tinker bird, Golden winged sunbird, Handsome francolin, Cinnamon chested bee-eater, Stranger weaver, Black and swift eagles among others.
After the Rwenzori hike in Congo, you will have the opportunity to interact with the local communities around the park in Mutwanga village and its surroundings. Mutwanga is home to the Nande who live in the foothills of the mountain where you will learn about their daily activities like farming, animal rearing, taste their traditional dishes, visit traditional healers, craft shops and engage in entertainment such as traditional dances, music, dramas which make your visit rewarding.
Where to stay
There are many accommodations for you to spend a night or more on a safari to Rwenzori mountains in DR Congo and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Centre d’Accueil Touristique Mutsora, Guest House hosted by nuns, and there are different cabins on the mountain where you can spend a night if you are to hike for days to the summit. Such cabins on Rwenzori Mountains DR Congo are; Kalonge hut, Mahangu hut, and Moraine hut
Centre d’Accueil Touristique Mutsora: This is the best accommodation option during your Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains hike. The guest house is situated just at the foothills of the mountains and renowned as a good option since it is at a Park Station guarded 24h/7 by park rangers. The tented camps are equipped with all the basic amenities including hot water.
Guest House hosted by nuns: It is the sole accommodation built of durable materials. It is hosted by nuns who use the proceeds of what you will pay to support their orphanage located just contingent to the guest house. It lacks some amenities like hot water compared to Centre d’Accueil Touristique Mutsora.
What is the best time to visit Rwenzori Mountains in DR Congo?
Rwenzori mountains in DR Congo can be visited at any time of the year just that some months are better than the rest. The drier months are the best for a visit because they are characterized by little or no rainfall which makes the trekking trails led muddy, the vegetation is short giving unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the mountain are slippery.
Why visit Congo’s Rwenzori Mountains?
Congo’s Rwenzori mountains is an adventurous hiking destination in Congo where great hikers can climb for 7-8 days to reach the top of the mountain which offers great views of the peaks, vegetation, some animals and birds among others hence gaining lifetime experiences on your safari in DR Congo.