Formerly known as Ruwenzori, the Rwenzori Mountains located in Eastern Africa are well renowned for their impeccable aura. Often referred to as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, some of the peaks are perpetually covered with snow, which makes them one of only three mountains in Africa to be snow-capped besides their more popular and more frequently visited counterparts of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. To be precise, they stretch right on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo previously known as Zaire and Uganda.
The range is devoid of any volcanic rocks and came into existence by the uplifting of the crystalline rocks from deep within the Earth’s crust millions of years ago. The term ‘Lunae Montes’ meaning the ‘Mountains of the Moon’: was first used by the famous ancient Alexandrian geographer ‘Ptolemy’ on a map of Africa.
The Rwenzori Mountain range spreads just over eighty miles in length but is perhaps the most diversified range across the globe consisting of a wide variety of ecosystems. Biodiversity is probably at its peak with five distinct vegetation zones ranging from tropical jungles to snow covered areas at higher altitudes. ‘Rwenzori’ means “rain maker”, indeed this holds true for the mountain range as they receive heavy rainfall right throughout the year.
Due to high annual precipitation and large diversity in habitation zones with the changing altitude, the Rwenzori supports a large variety of species of both the flora and fauna. It has an abundance of beautiful and tall flowers and plants such as the lobelia, heather and the groundsels to name a few. Amongst the animals the wild elephants, primate species and endemic aves are the most prominent ones.
The Rwenzori range has been declared as a World Heritage Site and is occupied partly by the Rwenzori Mountains National park in Uganda and partly by Parc National des Virunga in the Congo. The different vegetation zones are ‘Savanna’ at the bottom till 1800 m., the ‘Montane Rainforests’ zone (1800- 2500 m), the ‘Bamboo’ zone (2500-3000 m), the ‘Heather- Rapanea’ zone (3000- 4000 m) and finally the ‘Afro alpine’ zone (4000- 4500 m).
The Rwenzori range is a big source of trekking tourism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Travel and tourism industry is rapidly developing in Congo primarily because of the beautiful, rich and varied heritage that the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ offer. It is by far the most inexplicably exquisite alpine region in Africa for sightseeing.