Mountains of the Moon
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Earth View Adventures
Ancient Greek and Roman geographers searched for the source of the Nile, and Ptolemy produced the first map of the area where natives spoke of the Mountains of the Moon, so named because of their white snowcaps. European explorers resumed the search in the late 1700s, but the exact details of the range remained elusive for a hundred years, since these equatorial snowcaps are often shrouded in mist. Called the Rwenzori Mountains today, these still-glaciated peaks are the source of some, but not all of the waters of the White Nile. The Mountains of the Moon excited the ancients, and the beauty here continues to thrill all who approach today.
This is one of the most exotic places on Earth.

Mountains of the Moon    Trip overview

We fly to Entebbe near Uganda’s capital Kampala, then drive west to the Rwenzori Mountains. After a rest and preparation day, we begin a 10-day trek into the heart of the range. The terrain is often muddy and slippery, and we will wear rubber boots. It is likely to rain every day, especially in the afternoon. While the walking is tough, it is not extreme, since there are many boardwalks through the bogs and ladders at the steep spots. We will spend the nights in huts. On the 5th or 6th day, we will climb to the highest 16,762-foot summit of massive Mount Stanley, which is called Margherita Peak. This climb requires walking on glaciers with crampons, and some scrambling on rock. There are fixed ropes and ladders at the toughest spots. If time and energy permits, other ascents are possible. After the summit climb, we will trek out via another route, thus completing a circle tour through this famous range.

After the trek and a well-deserved rest, we will visit nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park for game viewing. Uganda’s animal populations are making a comeback, and there is much to see here now. We will tour by vehicle in the morning and by boat in the afternoon. The two week expedition will return to Entebbe at this point.

For those interested in continuing their journey, we will travel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and spend a special day viewing the mountain gorillas. Viewing the endangered mountain gorillas is tightly controlled by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Viewing groups are limited to 8 people per day, and permits must be secured well in advance. There is a $500 viewing fee that goes to the UWA for the gorillas continued protection. On the way back to Entebbe, we will visit a rural school, and the extended expedition will conclude with a visit to the source of the White Nile, which is the major branch of the Nile. The huge river emerges from Lake Victoria and soon goes over a prodigious waterfall.

Dates

We will run this expedition on request with a minimum of 10 people.
Departure: Jan  7
Start Trek: Jan 10
End Trek: Jan 19
Safari: Jan 20
Arrive home: Jan 22
For gorilla viewing, add 5 days
Detailed Itinerary

Land Costs (USD)

Per Person
2 wks without gorillas: $3,980
3 wks with gorillas: $4,980
Includes full room and board airport to airport, all vehicles, guides, porters, and park fees.
Excludes international airfare, tips, drinks, shopping, trip insurance, personal items, and visa fee.
Reserve the expedition with a $1,500 deposit by September 1. Final payment is due December 15.
Expedition Details

Detailed Itinerary



Day 1: Fly from your home

View Larger Map



Ptolemy’s World Map:
Day 2: Arrive in Entebbe where we are met at the airport and transferred to the Cassia Lodge with its magnificent sweeping view over Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

This elegant hotel will give us a chance to recover from our international flight, and adjust to our new time zone, culture, and equatorial climate.

Uganda’s reputation as “Africa’s Friendliest Country” stems from the tradition of hospitality steeped in its culturally diverse populace, and also from the remarkably low level of crime and hassle directed at tourists.
Day 3: We will drive from Entebbe to Fort Portal north of the trailhead.

We will stay at the Rwenzori View Guesthouse, which is nestled under the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. On a clear day, you can see the range from here. This European run guesthouse has impeccable appointments and food. The garden and grounds speak softly of the equatorial environment that you have placed yourself in.
“I would encourage anyone considering a trip with Earth View Adventures to not hesitate! This is a well run outfit. All the details are taken care of so you can focus on enjoying yourself. Stan and Gerry are very professional, and the stories these two guys tell are guaranteed to keep everyone entertained! Our trip to Uganda in January, 2011 was a success all around. Logistics were well planned and executed without a hitch, which is impressive for this part of the world. The climb of Mount Stanley is not to be missed; it’s much more scenic and wilder than Kilimanjaro. It’s also tougher but immensely rewarding. The Rwenzoris are amazing, the wildlife spectacular, and what can I say about the gorillas? Seeing them up close is the experience of a lifetime, and my expectations were exceeded. I will be checking back to see what trip they come up with next; I’m ready for more!”

– Wayne H., Lakewood, Colorado


Day 4: Begin trek. After formalities, we will hike 4 miles from Nyakalengija’s Mihunga Gate Trailhead at 5,249 feet (1,600 m) to Nyabitaba Hut at 8,737 feet (2,662 m).

Initially, our route follows a village road as we walk by local houses and their farm fields with banana trees and other crops. After 30 minutes, we arrive at the National Park checkpoint.

The path gets appreciably smaller as we head into the jungle. The trail follows the west (left) side of the Bujuku river and crosses a few side rivers on wooden bridges. The trail goes up and down before crossing the last side river and arrives at a small rest area with benches and tables.

After a rest, we climb a sustained hill to a distinct ridge. The trail levels out and we soon arrive at the first hut, Nyabitaba (00° 21.490' N, 029° 58.732' E). The hut is quite comfortable with a covered outside terrace, beds, mattresses, and pillows.




Day 5: We will trek 4.4 miles to John Matte Hut at 11,194 feet (3,412 m).

If it is clear in the morning, we can see 14,420-foot Rutaria in the Portal Peaks rising high and mighty across the Bujuku valley.

We hike gently uphill along the top of the ridge to a trail fork where we shall return at the end of our loop. We turn right and descend steeply down to the Bujuku River. The vegetation is still very dense and displays a palette of green variations. We cross the Bujuku River on a modern suspension bridge just below the confluence of the Mubuku (left) and Bujuku rivers.

The trail climbs, then heads upstream high above the Bujuku River through a bamboo forest. The trail is now rougher with frequent ups and downs, more rocks, and muddy sections. On the plus side, we can see giant tree heathers immersed in a dense forest full of a fairy tale vegetation. We must then cross more of the famous Rwenzori bogs where rubber boots are a must. Often there are wooden poles or bamboo across the mud, but these are slippery and require good balance. Trekking poles are very useful here.

The John Matte Hut is in a very nice location and provides relief from the trail. The Bujuku River is below the hut, there are good views down the valley, and the Rwenzori’s three major peaks, Mounts Speke, Stanley, and Baker are visible up the valley. We can see the glaciers, and this is our first close up view of the Mountains of the Moon that we have traveled so far to see.




Day 6: We will trek 2.5 miles to Bujuku Hut at 13,005 feet (3,964 m). The modest distance of this day’s trek is deceptive, since the terrain is the toughest yet. In compensation, the scenery is some of the best the entire trek has to offer.

You are most likely to see the peaks in the early morning, so plan on getting up early and heading out with your camera. Gerry took this shot with a long telephoto lens. These are the two highest summits of Mount Stanley. Alexander Peak is the left summit, and Mount Stanley’s highest point, 16,872-foot Margherita Peak, is the right summit. If you look sharp, you can just see the summit sign on Margherita Peak. This, our ultimate goal, looks close in this shot, but is still days above us. The Margherita Glacier separates the two peaks, and you can just see a sliver of the Stanley Glacier to the left.

Today’s trek is famous for its big bogs. We enjoy a nice boardwalk, cross the Bujuku river on a precarious log bridge, and enter the Lower Bigo Bog. There is an amazing boardwalk across the entire bog from which we can enjoy the giant lobelia growing nearby.

After climbing a steep rock step, we enter the Upper Bigo Bog which has no boardwalk, but the plants are even more amazing with giant lobelia and groundsel everywhere.

After another steep slope, we reach a rest spot where we can look back down the valley and enjoy our progress. More muddy trail takes us to and around Bujuka Lake where continual stunning scenery lures us on. Beyond the lake, the trail improves as it climbs to the Bujuku Hut.
Day 7: We will take a rest day or climb 16,042-foot Mount Speke.

Those motivated, fit, and able can make an ascent of Mount Speke this morning. This steep slippery ascent requires great care and has two crux Class 4 rock pitches where we will use a rope. Above the upper crux pitch, a glacier and Class 3 scrambling take us to the top.

Those not interested in the stiff climb up Speke, can rest and gather themselves for the upcoming ascent of Margherita Peak.


Day 8: We will trek 1.6 miles to Elena Hut at 14,960 feet (4,560 m). This is a moderate day to move us into position for our main ascent of Margherita Peak.

The trail contours though the Bujuku Valley then climbs to a spur of the ridge below the Elena Hut. This section culminates with a ladder that leads to a good-sized gully topped by a fine viewpoint. There is a trail junction here where trekkers not interested in climbing Margherita Peak go left to Scott-Elliot Pass, and our climb toward the Elena Hut and Margherita Peak goes right.

Our remaining trek to the Elena Hut climbs steeply through the highest plants, then crosses rock slabs and enters the alpine zone. The small Elena Hut offers good shelter, but is a bit cramped.






Day 9: This is our summit day for Margherita Peak.

We will start early with headlights. After some initial rock scrambling aided by fixed ropes, we cross more rocks to arrive at the Stanley Glacier where we don crampons. The ascent up the Stanley Glacier is easy, and sunrise here is a scintillating experience. The twin peaks of Alexander and Margherita loom ahead and 16,329-foot Savoia is off to our left. We skirt below Alexander Peak, leave the Stanley Glacier, traverse across rock ledges, then start a steep descent to reach the Margherita Glacier.

In the late 1800s, climbers were able to walk from the Stanley Glacier to the Margherita Glacier on snow, but due to the ensuing glacial retreat, this connection is now on rock, is becoming more difficult, and can change every year. The current route requires a 100-foot descent down a near vertical wall, which is aided by ladders.

Once on the Margherita Glacier, we ascend it to a point below the Alexander-Margherita Col where we can take a rest and enjoy Alexander’s unique snow gargoyles. Alexander, at 16,703 feet, is the Rwenzori’s second highest summit. After our rest, we turn toward the higher Margherita Peak and traverse east across a steep snow and ice slope to reach Margherita’s upper eastern rocks.

The guides discovered this new route in late 2010 after a large new crevasse formed above the Alexander-Margherita Col and cut off access to the traditional ladders above the col. In earlier years, the upper eastern rocks were not viable since they were plastered with ice gargoyles.

The initial Class 3 pitch on the eastern summit rocks has a fixed rope on it, then a final Class 2+ scamper takes us to the ultimate 16,762-foot summit!

This is the third highest major summit in Africa, and one of Earth’s most exclusive points. Here, we are on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are at the highest point of both countries. This is Africa’s continental divide between the White Nile to the east and the Congo River to the west. This is the highpoint of the famous Mountains of the Moon that were described almost 2,000 years ago, but only “discovered” a little over a century ago.


Day 10: This is our second possible summit day for Margherita Peak and we also will begin the trek out. If, for any reason, we were not able to summit Margherita Peak on Day 10, we can try again this morning. In the afternoon, we will trek 1.2 miles to the Kitandra Hut at 13,107 feet (3,995 m).

Our onward trek begins with a descent back to the main trail, then a traverse over to Scott-Elliot Pass at 14,240 feet. This boulder-strewn pass separates Mount Stanley from adjacent Mount Baker, and after crossing the pass, we descend below Baker’s steep cliffs. We descend back into the fairy-tale vegetation to reach Upper Kitandra Lake, and finally Lower Kitandra Lake where the Kitandra Hut is located next to an enormous moss-covered boulder. This is one of the most scenic portions of our trek.

If we are successful in reaching the summit of Margherita Peak on Day 10, we can also do the short trek down to the Kitandra Hut on Day 10. In that case, we can climb Mount Baker on Day 11. The ascent of Baker is similar to Speke with a Class 4 crux.






Day 11: We will trek 3.4 miles to Guy Yeoman Hut at 11,384 feet (3,470 m), and optionally, climb Mount Baker, the Rwenzori’s third highest major peak.



Today’s trek starts with a steep ascent to Freshfield Pass at 13,829 feet. This is where the climbing route to Mount Baker begins.

The initial Class 2 route to Baker allows us to gain elevation easily, and has some private tableaus. If the morning is fine, we will have some views back to Mount Stanley and our earlier climbing route. The route up Baker crosses a small notch, descends slightly, traverses toward the main peak, then climbs steeply up through a sinuous series of Class 3 rock steps. At each apparent impasse, a new opportunity presents itself.

Just as you think that the summit is overdue, the crux appears. Equipped with modern hardware that the guides will use to fix a rope, the crux pitch consists of a 25-foot Class 3 traverse followed by a 12-foot Class 4 downclimb. With this obstacle behind us, the summit indeed appears abruptly.



The continuing trekking route crosses Freshfield Pass, after which the up and down trail reaches the top of the Mobuku Valley. The scenic descent into this wet valley is long and tiring, and has some steep spots that require care. With the ascent of Baker, this is the trek’s longest day, and the Guy Yomen Hut is a welcome sight. Rewarding your effort, the views from this hut speak of another universe.
Day 12: We will trek 3.3 miles to Nyabitaba Hut at 8,737 feet (2,662 m).

Today’s trek continues down the Mobuku valley across a series of flat areas between steeper steps. A final steep descent under an overhanging cliff is equipped with stairs. We will descend through an impressive bamboo forest, cross the Mobuku River on a good bridge, and contour onto the ridge where the Nyabita Hut is located. This is the hut we used after our first day.
Day 13: This is our last day in the Rwenzori. An easy 4-mile walk takes us to the end of our trek at the Mihunga Gate Trailhead at 5,249 feet (1,600 m).

After our tiring trek, we will retire to the comfortable Ihamba Lodge near Lake George.


Day 14: We will tour Queen Elizabeth National Park.



In the morning, we rise early for a sunrise vehicle tour into the expansive Queen Elizabeth National Park.



On the way back to the hotel for lunch, we will stop at the Equator monument.



After lunch, we take an afternoon boat tour in the channel between Lakes George and Edward. The shores of this lake estuary are teaming with wildlife, and the boat provides a perfect viewing platform.
Day 15: We will drive back to Entebbe.
There will be town time for shopping.

You can depart Entebbe in the evening or the next morning.
  Day 16: Arrive Home
Optional Day 15: We will drive to Bwindi
and prepare for our Gorilla Trek.




Optional Day 16: We will see a mountain gorilla family.



After an orientation, we will hike for about two hours with guides to reach one of the four gorilla families in the park.

Trackers precede us and are very adept at tracking the families from the point where they were last seen the day before. Each family has between 20 and 30 members and travels two or three kilometers per day in search of fresh leaves.

We spend an hour with the family and can get within seven meters of a gorilla. The families are adapted to these daily visits, and occasionally a gorilla will approach you, in which case you just remain motionless. Each family is under the stewardship of a mature silverback. As the family grows and young silverbacks mature, they will eventually start their own family.

Viewing these magnificent creatures is truly a once in a lifetime experience.



By viewing the mountain gorillas, you are helping to preserve them. They were being poached to near extinction, but since viewing began, poaching has been curtailed, and the families are growing.

Optional Day 17: We will drive back via Lake Mburo National Park.

We will stay in Mbarara’s Lake View Regency Hotel.

We will also visit a rural school that Stan and Gerry have adopted.
Optional Day 18: We will drive back to Entebbe.
There will be town time for shopping.
Optional Day 19: We will drive to Jinja and visit the source of the White Nile, which is the major branch of the Nile. The huge river emerges from Lake Victoria and soon goes over a prodigious waterfall. From this point, the Nile is 4,000 miles long, and it takes the water three months to make its journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

You can depart Entebbe in the evening or the next morning.
  Optional Day 20: Flying
  Optional Day 21: Arrive Home

Our Earth View Adventures Promise

On this Earth View Adventures trip, you will always have a knowledgeable, American, English speaking companion and guide with you.
We do not simply sign you up with a foreign tour operator.

Expedition Details

This is an arduous trek and climb that requires a reasonable degree of fitness. While there are boardwalks, bridges, and steps at many of the most difficult places, much of the trail is muddy, rocky, and slippery. A mile on these trails is much tougher than a mile on one of the main trails up Kilimanjaro. We will rent rubber gum boots at the trailhead to wear on the muddiest trail sections.
If you are unsure about your fitness or ability, contact us and we will be happy to discuss your situation.
In addition to the rubber gum boots, you will need a sturdy pair of boots for the summit climbs. We will use crampons, ice axes, and harnesses. While you can rent this equipment there, we recommend that you bring your own. See our suggested equipment list.
A visa is required for Uganda. See www.ugandaembassy.com/visa.html for details.
Immunizations: See www.mdtravelhealth.com/destinations/africa/uganda.php for details.
Note that a Yellow Fever vaccination is required, and that proof of your Yellow Fever vaccination must accompany the visa application.
We highly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance.
You will be required to sign a waiver.
Suggested Equipment List:
  • For the trek:
    1. Water proof or Gore-Tex hooded parka
    2. Water proof or Gore-Tex pants
    3. Ski/walking poles (recommended)
    4. Warm jacket, pants, and hat
    5. Comfortable, waterproof hiking boots (broken in)
    6. Camp shoes
    7. Gaiters
    8. Tough gloves, warm gloves, and water proof or Gore-Tex overmitts
    9. Thermal underwear
    10. Light sweaters (wool or thermal)
    11. Light shirts or T-shirts
    12. Light pants or shorts
    13. Thermal socks (at least 4 pairs)
    14. Sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent
    15. Day pack
    16. Duffel Bag
    17. Sleeping bag (0 to +10 degree F recommended)
    18. Sleeping Pad
    19. Head light, flashlight, and extra batteries
    20. Two quart/liter water bottles
    21. Water purification system
    22. Personal first aid kit, toiletries
    23. Camera, reading and writing equipment

  • For the summit climbs:
    (You can rent most of this equipment in Uganda)
    1. Crampon-compatible mountaineering boots
    2. Crampons
    3. Ice ax
    4. Helmet
    5. Harness with belay/rappel device
    6. Four carabiners (two regular and two locking)
    7. Jumars with extra slings

  • Personal First Aid Kit:
    If you have any medical issues or concerns, consult your doctor.
    1. Regular medication - Those on a regular medication will need to bring sufficient amounts for the duration of the trip. These people must inform the leaders that they are on medication and the dosage required.
    2. Antiseptics - Liquid antiseptics such as Betadine in a plastic dropper bottle are the most efficient. If you want a cream then a small tube of one of the popular brands should be enough.
    3. Analgesics - For the relief of general aches and pains an aspirin free analgesic is recommended. Paracetamol tablets or capsules such as Tylenol suit most people. Use what you normally would at home.
    4. Anti-inflammatory - Unless you regularly require anti-inflammatory medication, you should need nothing more than Aspirin and Ibuprofen.
      If you cannot tolerate these, then see your doctor for a prescription.
    5. Blister Treatment - One of the most crippling trekking ailments is foot blisters.
      The best remedy is avoiding them by wearing well-fitting, broken in footwear.
      If you are unfortunate enough to develop blisters, then the best treatment is moleskin padding. Once a blister has developed, the addition of Second Skin or tape will help relieve the pain. Include lots of moleskin and tape in your kit.
    6. Antibiotics - Your doctor can prescribe suitable antibiotics if you explain where you are going. You will need medications such as ciprofloxacin for gastro intestinal infections and cephalexin for upper respiratory tract infections.
    7. Lip Salve - Cracked lips can become infected. Regular application of lip salve will lessen the cracking. It should also contain sun block.
    8. Sunscreen - The sun’s rays at high altitude are much more damaging than at sea level. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen rated at least SPF 15.
    9. Anti-Motility Tablets - These are the ones that bung you up. They should only be used as a last resort and then only for a short time. The best known are Lomotil and Imodium.
    10. Nasal Decongestant - You can use a non-sedating nasal decongestant like Sudafed for colds and air travel.
    11. Antihistamines - Used for the relief of cold symptoms and allergic reactions to stings, bites, etc. There are many brands available; Sudafed is a well known example.
    12. Bandages - Bring a selection of tape bandages, small adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages, and a roll of cotton gauze. Also include a three or four-inch elastic bandage for the treatment of strains and sprains.
    13. Instruments - Small scissors, needle (for removing splinters), safety pins, and tweezers.
    14. Miscellaneous - Vitamins, pocket knife, zip-lock bags.

Earth View Adventures
Attn Gerry Roach and Stan Havlick
1317 S. Mesa Ave.
Montrose, CO 81401

earthview@me.com
303 819-5556 Gerry
303 995-8130 Stan
Copyright © 2009-2016 by Gerry Roach and Stan Havlick. All Rights Reserved.