Rwenzori Trek Day 1 – July 16th

Today was the start of our trek. We ate an egg breakfast at the hostel and then headed out with Henry at about 9:00 am. It was about a 3 km hike from the hostel to the trailhead. You walk through the community of people who live in the foothills where there are several schools, people selling goods, and houses. Several school children walked the first road with us and we high-fived them all along the way. The kids here are very friendly and seem to like saying hello to us. 

The climb up to the trailhead was difficult in itself. After you leave the main road, you wind up the steep hillside on a road that is under construction until you reach a trail along the mountain side. Here we saw many farmland plots stretching up the mountain. Henry showed us many of the local plants including bananas, kasava, squash, coffee, and huge avacado trees with giant avocados. 

When you near the entrance of the Rwenzori National Park, you can see a line of trees that demarcates the park from public land. When the area was made into a national park, farming was no longer allowed. So, you see a clear line of many many farm plots right up to the border of the national park and after that, you see a thick line of trees. 

Line of trees marking Rwenzori National Park

When we got to the entrance to the national park, we had to pay our park fees at the Ranger’s Station and sign their book to denote our arrival and departure dates. Then we headed out from the trailhead. The first part of the climb was fairly easy so we enjoyed looking at all the various African plants and trying to spot new animals.

Jay had been wanting to see a three horned chameleon ever since he saw a video of one dancing on YouTube. We actually did see one on the trail, but he was sick and barely moved. We put him in a safe spot off the trail and continued on. We also saw giant worm, but he was too quick to get a picture. A little further up, we saw a blue monkey as well, but again, he was too quick to get a photo. 

Three horned chameleon

We arrived at the lunch spot fairly early, so instead of eating lunch, we had a snack, and continued to the first camp, Sine Camp. Henry told us that Sine was a hunter who used to live in the area, so the camp was named after him. 

Camp Sine

The way that the trek worked was each day we would hike to a new camp site where there were huts with bunk beds, dining halls, and out houses. We felt pretty spoiled having our bags carried and staying in the huts instead of tents, but we would soon find out how difficult it would be to complete the trek without these amenities. 

The end of the hike up to Sine Camp was very steep, but we were able to make it in about 40 min even though Henry said it should take about 2 hours. We were still fresh and not too tired from multiple days of hiking yet.

The first day was very humid and we sweat a lot, so our clothes were soaked by the time we got to Sine Camp at around 1:00 pm. In order to clean up a little bit (and see a beautiful waterfall), we took a short hike down to Enock’s Falls. We cleaned up in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall, enjoyed a unique wooden bridge, and headed back to camp. 

Enock’s Falls

Everyday after the hike, the porters would provide us with tea and snacks. So we had our snack, played solitaire, and relaxed until dinner. 

For dinner, the porters and guides made us a huge bowl of creamed chicken soup, and a huge plate of giant squash, avocado, meat, and potatoes. We are definitely not going to go hungry on this trek. Our group of 5 trekkers had about 15 porters to bring up all of our bags and food. Each day, the porters would carry our large bags to the next site and would pass us pretty much every day despite carrying 40+ more pounds than Jay or I.

After dinner, we had a short briefing meeting with the guides about our next day and headed to bed at around 8:00 pm when it got dark. 

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