TIPS FOR HIKING RWENZORI
Choose a good trekking service provider
In the Rwenzori there are 2 service providers; Rwenzori mountaineering service (who manage the central circuit trail) and Rwenzori trekking services (Kilembe trail). Both trails will lead you to mount Stanley. You will need to choose a company which will provide you with the services you may require during your trip. The Central trail circuit trail is has gentle hikes and is good for those interested in plants. The Kilembe trails as well offers some beautiful plants but the hikes are not gentle. So for those looking for extreme and tough hikes I would recommend the Kilembe trail. As you book your Uganda/ Rwenzori safari, clearly specify to your tour operator which trail you would wish to use.
Know how much the trek will cost
Never plan any trek before knowing how much it will cost you. You should ask your tour operator or else if you booked with directly with the service provider to give you a cost breakdown of the whole safari, such that you know what you paid for and what you did not. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings ask you hike that might lead to incurring more costs.
Mind the weather
As you plan your Rwenzori hike, you should put in mind the season when you want to do it. June to august and December to February are dry months and the rest of the months are wet. Rwenzori is a rain maker even in the drier it can rain but not as much as in the wet months. The day can be sunny and hot but the nights get really cold.
Have trekking poles
As you hike or slope, you will need these poles because they help reduce some strain in your knees and legs.
Pick the right shoes
You will need to choose the right boots for the trek appropriately. For lower altitudes and when the weather is fine, some light, breathable and comfortable shoes will do best. The middle parts of the mountain are boggy and you will need to use rubber boots/gum boots. If you are trekking to Margherita peak you will need boots where crampons can easily fit because you will be walking on snow.
Hire a guide and a porter
For experienced hikers, it is much easier for them to carry their personal baggage without much difficulty. Though, you will still need a guide. For new ones, it’s a bit tricky and challenging and you will need to hire a guide and a porter for extra assistance and make your trip comfortable. Try to interact with them and tip them at the end of the trek.
Dehydration is one thing that every hiker suffers from. With the up and down treks you go through, they highly affect energy levels and to keep going, you will need to be highly hydrated. About 2-4 liters a day would keep the body fit. With altitude changes, you might lose your appetite but water can help you regulate the energy and temperature levels.
Avoid the Sun and Wind effects
The lower zones get very warm during the day more especially in the dry months. The sun can cause dehydration and serious sunburns. You will need to keep drinking water, wear sunglasses, hats and apply sun screen at all times to avoid sunburns. In windy areas especially on mount Stanley, you will need to put on moisturizers to protect your body and skin from the cold.
As you hike, you will need to have an easy start and take it slow the whole trek to have a memorable vacation of the Rwenzori. Hiking is about taking one step at a time and every trekker should move at his/her own pace so as to also allow the body to acclimatize as the altitude changes. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of carbs so as to keep up the energy levels.
Rent some of the things
When planning your hike, it wouldn’t be necessary of buy every things. When going up to the peak, you can rent some equipment like crampons, ice axe, harness, ropes or a sleeping bag from Uganda and reduce on travelling with a lot of stuff that will increase your baggage. But it’s also okay to come with your personal stuff.
Carry enough cash with you because there is no ATM on the mountain. This will help you just in case you want to buy some souvenir or give tips. Besides Rwenzori, Uganda has a lot to offer like mountain gorillas and chimps among many others and you might need to book for before or after going to the mountain. You might as well need to have a meal at a restaurant in the nearby towns before or after the mountain and this cash should be there to help you. In Uganda ATMs are only in major towns.
Pack the Right gear
Since you will be trekking for about a week, you will need the right gear. You will be trekking between 5-7 hours every day, so you will need the right boots for every trek (hiking boots and gum boots for the boggy places) and socks that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. For those who are not used to cold environments, the nights get really cold so a good down sleeping bag will be so helpful. The huts/camps on mount Stanley are in a cold environment whether during day or night, nothing will help you beat the cold like having a good quality down jacket and it would be wise to pack one from home since it Uganda they are so expensive. You can as well pack some hot water bags to take to your sleeping bag.