Mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa – Mount Rwenzori, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya
Mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa – Uganda the Pearl of Africa is a best place to do mountaineering blessed with various mountains and volcanoes offering you the most adventurous hiking experience. Mountain hiking complement the popular Gorilla tracking safaris making your Uganda safari a complete package. Regardless of your physical fitness, Great Adventure Safaris offers you both short and long hiking tours to meet you expectations. Uganda’s popular hiking spots include Mountain Rwenzori, Mountain Elgon, Sipi Falls, Mountain Sabinyo, Mountain Gahinga and Mountain Muhabura. Interestingly, mots of Uganda’s volcanoes are in National Parks which give travellers a chance to enjoy the adventure of wildlife animals especially mountain Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The summit of each mountain or Volcano, reward travellers with spectacular views of nearby communities, wildlife and other attractions in the neighbourhood of Uganda’s popular mountaineering spots which include:
Known as the “Mountains of the moon”, Rwenzori is the highest peak in Uganda and the third highest in the whole world. Mount Rwenzori is situated in Kasese district on the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hiking to the summit of mount Rwenzori is a long trek which last for roughly 8 days to reach Margerita the highest peak standing at an altitude of 5,109 meters above the sea level. At the summit of Mount Rwenzori is a permanent snow, which often melts into various, rives flowing to the lowland areas such as river Nyamwamba and River Mubuku. Interestingly, various ranges have been formed which together form the Rwenzori chain of mountains. At the base of the mountain is Mount Rwenzori national park covered with tropical rain forests and a home to various animals. Travellers follow different trails depending on their fitness and the end point. The central circuit is the longest trail which last for roughly 8 days and 7 nights to Margarita whereas Mahoma loop is quite easier lasting for 3 days and Kilembe trail is the shortest done in only one day.
Situated in the Eastern Uganda in the borders of Uganda and Kenya, Mount Elgon is yet another interesting mountain to hike. The mountain stands at 4321m above sea level and is the 8th highest peak in Africa yet the 4th highest in East Africa. Mount Elgon was at once one of Africa’s highest peaks but the continuous erosion have reduced its height to its current. Wagagai is the highest peak of Mount Elgon whose summit shelters the world’s largest caldera measuring approximately 50 by 80 kilometres. Being a National Park, Mount Elgon is a home to a variety of animals such as Elephants, forest monkeys, Buffalos and other small antelopes among others. An encounter with these animals is an added advantage for the hikers. On the slopes are caves of different sizes, waterfalls and various water polls among others.
Mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa – These are three conical extinct volcanic mountains in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sharing borders with the neighbouring Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. They are part of the 8 volcanoes, which make up a chain of the Virunga volcanoes.
Mont Muhabura is the highest peak standing at 4,127 meters above sea level, which take roughly 5 hours to reach the summit. Also known as mount Muhabura translated as “guide” in Kinyarwanda; the volcano is the third highest after Karisimbi in Rwanda and Mikeno in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the summit is a crater lake surrounded by a swamp rewarding you with spectacular views of adjacent Karisimbi and Mikeno.
Mount Sabinyo is shared in the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much as the three countries share it, Mount Sabyinyo is best hiked from Uganda. The rugged terrain and the many crater lakes on the sides of Rwanda and Congo make it difficult to hike in these countries. The volcano has three peaks one in Uganda and the other two in Rwanda and DRCongo respectively but hiking to the summit is difficult. The name Sabyinyo is a Kinyarwanda word translated as “old man’s teeth” due to the shape of the peak in form of three spaced teeth of an old man. The slopes of the mountain are covered in the alpine forest a home to famous golden monkeys providing travellers with a chance to see these endangered species and other wildlife that inhabit there.
Mountain Kilimanjaro is located in the north east of Tanzania in Kilimanjaro national park. It is the tallest mountain in Africa standing at the height of 5895 meters and is Africa’s most climbed mountain. It is a volcanic mountain with three cones which make the mountains peaks; kibo, shira and mawezi Kibo being the highest point. Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller were the first known people to have reached the summit in 1889.
There are 7 routes which mountaineers use to hike the mountain; Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Rongai, Mweka, Umbwe and Shira routes. Machame route is known for the beautiful scenery it offers, albeit steeper route. Lemosho and Northern Circuit routes are even more scenic than the latter. The Rongai is the easiest and less scenic of the routes. The Marangu is as well easy but it can get really crowded both ascending and descending also relatively easy, but this route tends to be very busy and the huts are to be shared with all other climbers.
Due to the ice and glaciers on the peaks, the mountain is a source to various rivers and streams with the major rivers being Pangani and Lumi. The mountain has various vegetation zones which change with altitude. The lower zones have thick vegetation which is a home to various animals like; buffalo elephants, bushbucks, duikers, monkeys and many others. It is as well home to bird species.
For those planning to hike the summit, you are advised to make sure that you are physically fit for the hike and well equipped. Almost all hikers suffer from altitude sickness, so as you hike you will need to acclimatize. The high winds, cold temperature, and moving through the ice make the whole experience so challenging.
Mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa – Mount Meru situated east of the Great Rift Valley and about 40 km southwest of Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania’s Arusha National Park, is considered an active volcano and is the country’s second highest mountain. It is also considered the fourth highest mountain in all of Africa by some (after Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzoris – aka the Mountains of the Moon). 500,000+ years ago, Mount Meru erupted in a tremendous explosion that destroyed its cone shape and resulted in a horseshoe crater with the eastern side removed. The resulting mountain has its summit on the west side with its inner walls rising over 1,500m from the crater floor, making them among the tallest cliffs in Africa. In the past 100 years, eruptions have been reported as the Ash Cone continues to build inside the crater. The first ascent is still in dispute and credited to either Carl Uhlig in 1901 or Fritz Jaeger in 1904.
Although this is a spectacular mountain with amazing scenery and wildlife, it’s location in East Africa means that most international visitors will visit Mount Meru as a secondary trip in conjunction with their primary destination, usually Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, or the Ngorongoro Crater. Reasons to do this summit include: (1) amazing views into the summit crater and ash cone, (2) hiking along the crest of the crater rim, (3) nice, but distant, views of Kilimanjaro from the summit, (4) the ability to see a lot of wildlife on the lower slopes in the form of a walking safari, (5) the chance to escape the tourist crowds, and (6) for Americans, the ability to summit another peak taller than Mount Whitney. Arusha National Park provides certificates for people who summit the Little Meru sub-peak (3,820 m / 12,533 ft) or Socialist Peak – aka the Mount Meru summit. Although the name Socialist Peak is listed on the summit certificate, this name was rarely used and given that the Tanzanian government is moving more towards capitalism, it will probably never be more than a curiosity.
The 14 km (8.7 mi) or 19 km (11.8 mi) YDS class 2 Momella route is the primary and only official route to the summit today. This route starts at the Momella Gate (1,500 m / 4,921 ft) and uses one of two tracks to Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m / 8,250 feet), either a shorter 5 km YDS class 1 route or a longer 10 km YDS class 1 route that allows one to see more wildlife, scenery including waterfalls, and old huts. From the Miriakamba Hut, you take a 4 km YDS class 1 trail through some forests up to the Saddle Hut (3,566 m / 11,700 feet). From Saddle Hut, you can either summit Little Meru (3,820 m / 12,533 feet) or follow the route another 5 km YDS class 2 to the Mount Meru Summit, aka Socialist Peak. On the way up to the summit from Saddle Hut, the first notable bald area you’ll reach is Rhino Point where you can get amazing views of the summit and the inner crater walls, providing there are no clouds. You’ll know you are at Rhino Point because there is a pile of bones in the centre of the clearing. The easy YDS class 2 portion of the hike involves crossing two moderately long low-angle rock slabs above Rhino Point. Also from Rhino Point to the summit, there are green blazes and arrows painted on the rocks to show you the way, however, these can be hard to see at night. There is a metal flag of the United Republic of Tanzania on the summit as well as a wood box and summit register.
Before Mount Meru was included in Arusha National Park in 1967 it was also possible to reach the summit via the North and West slopes, however, use of these trails to enter the park (and reach the summit) is now illegal. It is, however, legal to climb the inner Ash Cone but the park only recommends this for researchers and issues a special permit for this activity.
Mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa – Mountain Kenya is located in central Kenya, just south of the Equator line; around 150km/95 miles north-northeast of Nairobi, Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano with jagged peaks rising to 5,199m/17,057feet.
The peaks deliver lively contrast to the equatorial terrain on the approach. To take advantage of conditions, we climb Batian in June and Nelion in December and January. An accompanying trek is available for non-climbing friends and family to the neighbouring Lenana peak as part of both departures.
The journey through the forest and moorland is for many the highlight of the Mount Kenya Expedition. Here you will be intrigued by the exotic equatorial flora and transition zones from wetland to heather and alpine zones. We intentionally traverse the National Park on our trek to and away from the mountain, to ensure new terrain each day with the ascent of Mount Kenya being the geographical highlight in the middle of the journey. This expedition features a smorgasbord of African culture and scenery, providing a fabulous excuse to visit this wild continent.
What to Bring for your Mountain Hiking
These items should be on your hiking checklist:
Weather-appropriate clothing (thick moisture-wicking and layers)
Hiking boots or shoes
Plenty of energy giving food
Plenty of water
Navigation tools such as a map and compass
Knife or multi-tool
The rest of the above essentials are appropriate for your hike
While you are packing, use this handy day hiking checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything important. Here are some notes on how to best use this list:
Items that are part of the Ten Essentials are marked by an asterisk. The exact items you take can be tailored to your trip based on considerations such as weather, difficulty, duration and distance from help.
This checklist is deliberately comprehensive and intended for day hikes in the backcountry where being self-sufficient is important to your well-being. It includes many more items than you’re likely to need for short treks in or near developed areas, like city parks, though you can adapt it to your needs for these trips. Contact Great Adventure safaris to book mountain trekking and hiking safaris in East Africa