Margherita Peak Africa’s third highest peak however the real beauty is in the climb up the Kilembe route, the forests and valleys the flora is diverse with trees and valleys of ferns. The trees are alive with many species of birds and primates and as you walk up the trail you will see chimp nests high up in the tall trees, if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the resident chimpanzee as they scamper away. Climbing Magherita Peak (Trek Margherita Peak Mount Stanley Rwenzori Mountains) is more of a hard scramble than a climb except for a few difficult moves and when it snows it is more difficult however the rewards and exhilaration of reaching the top is enormous as you look across Albert Peak to the DRC (Congo) then east across the spectra of the Rwenzori Mountains.
We provide all the equipment necessary for the climb like crampons, ropes, harnesses, carabinas, you need to bring good hiking boots, warm clothing, warm sleeping bag and rain gears.
DAY 1: STARTING POINT – SINE CAMP – KALALAMA CAMP
Early morning from our starting point, we will start by walking up the valley floor through the forest trees of the Afro Montane Forest. During this climb you will have a chance to see blue monkeys and a variety of birds and sometimes you may see the black and white colobus monkeys through the forest tree tops. There is a wide variety of plant species from forest trees to low shrubs, flowers, bamboo thickets, fungi, and lichen and many moss covered vines hanging from the tall trees. Enock falls are just 150m from Sine Hut 2,596m and offer a splendid opportunity to capture a great screensaver for your memories
At Sine Camp we have wooden huts set between tall forest trees on a narrow ridge where you may sit and enjoy the beauty of the Afro Montane forest while you look down at the beautiful waterfall crashing over the rocks below. You may prefer to sit outside and enjoy the warmth of the campfire and have a chat with the guides about the mountains and life within their community. Sine is just below the bamboo zone and the area around has many different bird species. Overnight will be at Sine Camp or for those who are fit and want to proceed to Kalama Camp at 3,134m may do so and spend the night and dinner at Kalalama Camp
DAY 2: BAMBO-MIMULOPSIS ZONE – MUTINDA CAMP
After a good breakfast at your camp, start trekking by 8.30am and you enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone which is steep with high steps. During the wet season the bamboo zone is rather muddy and slippery making the going slow. The atmosphere and the forest is beautiful as you climb up 551m altitude and a distance of 1.8km to Kalalama Camp at 3,147m which is in the Heather-Rapanea Zone where you can take a rest and a quick cup of tea or coffee before heading on to Mutinda Camp. The trail meanders up and over several small knolls along a ridge top then drops down the side of the valley before climbing again, and in doing so you will cross several small streams and pass close to moss covered waterfalls. You then climb steadily along the side of a beautiful mossy river which tumbles down over the rocks under the Giant Heather trees whose trunks are covered in green moss with old man beards (Usnea lichen) hanging from the branches
The trail twists and turns as you trek up the deep valley, which has an enormous variety of plants and flowers. The valley has many unique Giant Heather trees creating a beautiful atmosphere often shrouded in mist. Mutinda Camp which is set near a small river and waterfall offers a chance to wash, refresh and relax. In the afternoon you may wish to climb up to the top of the Mutinda Lookout and the view is amazingly beautiful as you stand on moss covered rocks at 3,925m with views across the Rwenzori Mountains and down to Kasese town and Lake George. For those clients who are climbing to Margherita or any of the main peaks climbing Mutinda to 3,975m is also an excellent way to acclimatise and reduce the risk of high altitude sickness. Overnight at the Camp at 3.582m
DAY 3: NAMUSANGI VALLEY – BUGATA CAMP
The trail to Bugata Camp is boggy particularly in the wet season but with a little skill you can step from tussock to tussock to make the going easier. You will first cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass, everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias before climbing a steep section up to the Namusangi Valley 3,840m with sheer waterfalls and looking back you get fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks. The Namusangi Valley is wide, with many ups and downs as the trail climbs steadily to Bugata Camp at 4,100m. Overnight t Bugata Camp.
DAY 4: THROUGH BAMWANJARRA PASS – HUNWICKS CAMP
Early morning you will trek from Bugata Camp pass through a ridge to Bamwanjarra Pass at 4,450m where there’s a hut should the weather turn bad. From the Bamwanjarra pass on a clear day you get fantastic views of the three main peaks. The trail passes down the valley and around the edge of some bogs and thick ever green vegetation, moss, giant groundsel and lobelia. Here is possibly the best place in all the Rwenzori to observe the Malachite Sunbird as it feeds on the many lobelia flowers and a known breeding site. Further on there is some steep section before a steady climb up and over a ridge to Hunwick’s Camp which is situated on the top of a deep valley and has good views of Mt Stanley, Mt Baker, Weismanns Peak and McConnell’s Prong. Sleep over at Hunwick’s Camp.
DAY 5: LAKE KITENDARA – MARGHERITA CAMP
Early morning you will set off from Hunwick’s Camp and you trek down, across the valley floor to Lake Kitendara which is very stunning with deep water and beautiful vegetation. You will climb up Scott Elliott’s pass then up the ridge to Margherita Camp 4,485m which is located between some huge rocks and offering some shelter from the strong winds. This is the very spot where the Duke of Abruzzi camped when making his climb to Margherita Peak in 1906.
DAY 6: MT STANLEY – HUNWICKS CAMP
Wake up at 2am and catch an early breakfast before heading off to climb Mt Stanley at 2.30am. This is necessary as the weather has changed a lot and often even during the dryer season the mountain is closed in with heavy clouds and snow falls from 1 pm to 4pm and this happens within a short period of 10 to 15 minutes as the clouds rise up from the extensive Congo rainforests. During January and February 2017 clients were closed in and unable to walk during heavy snow storms which previously were not heard of during the dryer season and arrived back at Margherita camp well after dark with one group arriving back at 11pm totally exhausted.
Due to this change in weather we have set a strict turnaround time of 10am so if you do not reach the peak before then you must turn around regardless of the disappointment in the interests of safety. Margherita glacier has also suffered with global warming and as the outer edges of the glacier recede the ice is becoming steeper with one section of about 200m more than 60% grade. Combined with this much of the blacker has melted underneath causing caves under the ice and as it get thinner eventually caves in. So is necessary that clients understand and take advice of where the guides suggest to pass.
For those clients with less mountaineering experience we suggest that you stay on Stanley glacier and climb up to a good vantage point on a rocky outcrop on the southern edge of Alexandra Peak to enjoy fantastic views over Congo and the lower mountain ridges. After ascending the peak at 5,109m you then pass directly down to Hunwick’s Camp at 3.874m. Overnight at Hunwick’s Camp.
DAY 7: HUNWICK’S CAMP – KIHARO CAMP
Early morning from Hunwick’s Camp we will start the day by trekking up a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong where you will have the best views of all three peaks and Scott Elliott’s Pass before reaching Oliver’s Pass at 4,505m. The distance from Hunwick’s Camp to the top of Olivers Pass is 3km. The trail then cuts across below Weismann’s Peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down thought Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elisabeth National Park. If you wish to climb Weismanns Peak 4,620m from Olivers pass you may do so at an extra cost of $20 each. On a clear good day you get to have a fantastic views of Margherita and Mt Stanley, Mt Speke and Mt Baker.
After crossing the confluence the trail meanders down the valley to Kiharo Camp at which is situated in a deep valley with high cliffs and dense vegetation. On the way down the valley after each bog you will climb over a ridge of stones and earth which seems out of place but actually was pushed there by slow moving glaciers which eventually stopped moving, melted and left a pile of rocks and debris in front of where the glacier once stood. Overnight at Kiharo Camp.
DAY 8: NYAMWAMBA VALLEY – STARTING POINT
Early morning you will walk the trail down the Nyamwamba Valley which is mostly downhill and absolutely stunning with beautiful views, moss covered rocks along the river, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys and forests are possibly the best in the Rwenzori Mountains. A few kilometres from Kiharo Camp the path turns off to the right to pass along the river. In the clear areas you may catch a glimpse of a Duiker quietly feeding in small clearings as you pass along the river. If you wish you may prefer to walk down the river itself hopping across the rocks as you pass down. A few kilometres down the river it becomes very steep with multitudes of waterfalls so we have to move away from the river and follow a narrow ridge to bypass steep sections. At the bottom we again meet the river where there is a huge rock shelter and a place to rest for a while. After crossing a small stream you climb up a gentle slope before turning back down to the river to avoid another set of waterfalls which are impassable. The forest along this section is magnificent and full of life with many birds, primates, dikers and hyrax. A great experience and ending to a fantastic trek. Overnight at the lodge.
DAY 9: KAMPALA | DEPARTURE
Early morning after breakfast, prepare to leave for your journey back to Kampala and this will be the end of this mountain trek safari/tour.