Kilembe Trails

The Kilembe Trail: Mountain Rwenzori is undoubtedly one of the best hiking destinations in Africa. Standing at an impressive 5,109m, the mountain ranges are the third tallest mountain on the African continent. These mountain massifs are snowcapped throughout the year and they feed the 9 lakes found on the mountain. The waters from the glaciers feed into the Nile. While the lower slopes of the mountain are characterized by moorlands, tropical and bamboo forests, the upper slopes are comprised of giant lobelias, heather, groundsels and spectacular views of glaciers. Primates like chimps, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys are some of the wildlife in the lower slopes of the mountain. On occasion, the rare Rwenzori leopard is spotted on your hike.

The southern circuit (Kilembe trail) starts from Kilembe and is one of the routes used to explore the mountain ranges. Run by Rwenzori trekking services, it is the longest of the circuits. This gives hikers the opportunity to acclimatize on their summiting hike. This southern circuit offers day, multi day and summiting hikes. Depending on your preference, you can spend up to 12 days on the mountain side.

Porters will accompany you to help with your luggage. They are comprehensively trained in ice climbing and first aid since altitude sickness is one of the ever present dangers in mountain climbing. Routine rescue procedures are practiced and equipment well checked and maintained.

The Kilembe trail

Kilembe (1,450m) to Kalalama Camp (3,147m)

Hikers begin their expedition from the ranger post where a short hike takes you to the Rwenzori national park headquarters. The trail leads you into the tropical forest. Expect some encounters of primates like the blue monkeys and colobus monkeys. Rare birds like Rwenzori turaco also thrive in this section of the mountain. Sine camp is perfect for a lunch stopover. The section of the trail ends at Kalalama camp. This camp is made of wooden cabins that offer a good night’s rest. Dinner is served here

Kalalama camp (3,147m) to Mutinda Camp (3,688m

An early start takes you through the bamboo zone, a sharp climb with numerous steps. Stopovers offer much needed refreshment. Proceed through the heather zone, past the streams flowing down the mountain creating waterfalls. The misty stratosphere coupled with the giant heather create a mirage of a movie scene. At Mutinda camp, enjoy the scenic beauty of the Mutinda peaks. The Mutinda lookout (3,925m) offers spectacular views of the Afromontane vegetation, Kasese town and Lake George. Enjoy the night at the cozy cabins.

10 Days Rwenzori Mountain

Mutinda Camp (3,688m) to Bugata camp (4,062m)

This day’s hike starts in the boggy landscape with tussocks and distinctive wet vegetation. The alpine flora is characterized by giant lobelia, groundsel and beautiful flowers laying across the Mutinda valley. The Namusangi valley offers rest from the steep climb and offers unbeatable views of the Mutinda peaks. Transverse the bogs to reach the Bugata camp. The camp is set in a background of tussock, giant lobelia, groundsel and everlasting flowers. Your backdrop for the evening is the magnificent views of the Weisman’s peak of Mount Luigi of Savoy which is usually snow covered. The trail further takes you past Lake Kitandara which stretches all the way to DR Congo. The Bugata camp offers good facilities like eco toilets, bathrooms and solar lighting.

Bugata camp (4,062m) to Hunwick’s camp (3,974m)

Climbing Rwenzori is not an ascending affair. Its synonymous with descents while going up the mountain. This section of the trail is one of those occurrences. The trail gradually climbs through the long flat bogs to the Banwamjara pass (4,450m). Here, all the snowcapped peaks are visible. Enjoy the scenic beauty before proceeding on your Rwenzori hike. Descend and hike through the lower and upper Kachope lake. This steep climb is often muddy yet offers amazing views of McConell’s prong and Kachope lake. Overlooking Mt Baker, the Hunwick’s camp is beautifully set on a ridge and offers a relaxing evening.

The Kilembe trail

Hunwick’s camp (3,974m) to Margherita camp (4,485m)

This hike is the prelude to your summit. The Kilembe trail takes you to Margherita camp which is the starting point to your summit hike the next day. The trail takes you along the ridge, crossing small streams, rivers origination from Mt Baker. Enjoy the scenic walk to Scott Elliot’s pass, hike through the pass and up Stanley to Margherita camp. The camp is nestled amongst high rocks and has spectacular views of Scot Elliot’s Pass, Mt Baker and glaciers of Mt Stanley. The evening is spent in preparation for your early morning expedition to the summit. Prepare ropes, ice breaking equipment, crampons and hiking shoes. The night is spent in anticipation for the next day’s hike.

Margherita (5,109m) and return to Hunwick’s camp (4,485m)

This is the ultimate hike, the one you have been training for. This hike takes you to the highest point of the mountain. Breakfast is served as early as 3am. Depart and begin the hike at 4am towards Margherita, the peak of Mt Stanley. This early start allows hikers to summit before the ice begins to melt in the sun. The hike is grueling, climbing over bare sections of rock. The ridge leading to Margherita is roped and bolted. At the summit (5,109m), the scenic views and the satisfaction from summiting is worth it. A special meal that was carried at the start of the hike is shared and enjoyed. After the summit, return to the Hunwick’s camp for the night

Hunwick’s camp to Rangers post.

Mornings are characterized by the sounds of the birds. A fresh breakfast is served before you begin your hike. Following the trail, descend through the thick forests, valleys and spot the amazing birdlife. Chameleons are a common sight. Duikers are seen feeding in the flowery vegetation. The hike on this Kilembe trail start and end at the ranger station.

Accommodation on the Kilembe trail

  • Sine Hut (2,596m)
  • Mutinda camp (3,582m)
  • Bugata Camp (4,100m)
  • Margherita camp (4,485m)
  • Hunwick’s Camp (3,873m)
  • Kiharo Camp (3,430m)

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