The Rwenzori Mountains National Park among the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, It has four trails and two nature walks, with the creation of the Muhoma trail, which is targeted for tourists interested in shorter trails.
While the Rwenzori Mountains are a sight to behold, not many tour operators put them on their itinerary because it usually takes more than a week to enjoy a trail walk on any of the slopes. However, with the new Muhoma trail, tourists can enjoy a bit of the mountains in one to three days only.
It is true at this trail Uganda is discovered, this is a place that travelers for Uganda tours should not miss, “It is good the communities are benefiting from the tourism industry as they are taught to conserve the environment and out of the revenue from this trail and the park at large supports their local projects like agriculture where they generate a living.”
Getting to the trail
Sounds of River Nyamwamba greet your ears at this new tourist attraction that opened in August. Cater was excited after she trekked through the new trail. The place can be reached about 10kms on Kasese-Fort Portal road, after which one branches left at Kasanyarazi and ascends 12kms on a dirt road, which is still under rehabilitation.
Muhoma Nature Trail was built by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) using funds from USAID’s Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine Rift (Star) project and is the latest product in the national park. The trail, that lets visitors enjoy one-to-three-day walks, traverses the lower slopes of the mountains up to Lake Muhoma, where the trail joins the existing Central Circuit trail.
About the trail
This is the fourth trail and the second nature walk in the national park tucked in western Uganda. The other trails include the Central Circuit, run by Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS), Kilembe, run by Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS), and Kazingo Nature Walk trail, which has been the only trail open to all tour operators since the other trails are privately run. Uganda Wildlife Authority manages the new trail and is open to all tour operators.
“The concessional trails are limited to contracted companies, but the new trail is open to anybody. You don’t need to go through a third party to use it,” said Fredrick Kizza, the park’s senior warden. “This shorter trail is an opportunity for those clients with limited time. Because of the long time needed to climb the mountain, most tourist operators leave out Rwenzori”.
The Rwenzori are a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination, which were recently voted among the world’s best hiking sites. The world heritage site is well known for its extraordinary flora and different vegetation zones. However, the mountain continues to struggle to attract tourists.
According to Kizza, in 2000, the park attracted a paltry 600 visitors. This number has since grown to 2,300, according to last year’s statistics. Kizza says the park has already attracted 2,285 visitors since January, a figure that is expected to shoot to 3,000 by the end of the year.
Attractions beyond the trail
With better facilities, the numbers are bound to go even higher. Geolodges have opened up their fourth lodge, the Equator Snow Lodge in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. “We hope that the addition of these new tourism facilities and the trail will help to boost tourism to the mountains, increasing revenues for the people of the region as well as supporting Uganda Wildlife Authority and Eco trust in their ongoing conservation efforts”.
USAID-Star with support from US Forest Service, and in partnership with Eco trust, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Geolodges, also boosted the lodge with the construction of an information centre at a cost of $100,000 (approximately Shs260m).
The centre is a multi-function facility next to the park, providing information and services for visitors to be able to learn more about the park and the mountain, its people and their culture.