Exhilarating trek up the 'mountains of the moon'
Join Holly Budge, an Everest Summiteer and the first woman to skydive Everest, on this 15-day trip around Uganda which will see you climb Mount Stanley to reach Margherita Peak, take a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park and trek to see rare mountain gorillas. A true once-in-a-lifetime trip.
The trip will raise money for 'How Many Elephants', an award-winning NGO founded by Holly, which is educating a global audience about the devastating impacts of the African elephant ivory trade and raising vital funds for frontline rangers.
Holly summited Mount Stanley earlier this year and describes the experiences below:
"Mountains of the moon sounds like something that exists in a fairy tale book but this vision came alive right in front of my eyes.
I literally stepped into another world, full of exotic natural wonders. Candy floss trees, tall totem poles of pine cones, optical illusion plants perfectly formed in hot pinks, yellows and greens. It was magical.
We moved up steeply forested terrain, climbed big boulders, slithered over tree roots, and traversed glaciers.
As our eyes grew wider in amazement, our lungs compressed with the altitude gain. Each step had to be thoughtful and with precision as the rains came down, making the going pretty challenging at times.
Three words: awe-inspiring, challenging, rewarding."
I created this trip - call me to create yours.
Day 1: Sunday 26th March 2023
Arrive at Entebbe International Airport
On arrival, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel, Protea Hotel Entebbe where you will stay on a B&B basis in a deluxe room.
The afternoon and evening are free to do as you please with lunch and dinner by your own arrangement.
Day 2: Monday 27th March 2023
Fly to Kasese
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Entebbe Airport for your morning domestic flight to Kasese Airstrip. On landing, you will be transferred to Elephant Plains Lodge for dinner and an overnight stay
Day 3: Tuesday 28th March 2023
Trekkers hostel Kilembe the base camp at 1450 meters
The first day of trek will see you climb 1,146 meters; start at Trekkers at 1,450 meters and sleep at Sine Hut at 2,596 meters.
A steady climb through the Afro Montane Forest Zone with a chance to see blue monkeys, Colobus monkeys and occasionally there are rare sightings of the L’Hoest monkey. There is a wide variety of plant species from forest trees to bamboo thickets, low shrubs, flowers and lichen-covered vines hanging from the tall trees. Enock’s Falls are just 200 meters from Sine Hut - a beautiful and refreshing spot.
Day 4: Wednesday 29th March 2023
Trek to Mutinda Camp at 3,582 meters
Trekking starts at 8.30 am and almost immediately you enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone which is a steep climb with many high steps through a beautiful forest. Climb 551 metres in altitude to Kalalama Camp at 3,147 meters where you can take a rest and enjoy a quick cup of tea or coffee.
Continue on and the trail climbs up a deep valley, which is unique due to its many Giant Heather trees creating a beautiful atmosphere, often shrouded in mist. Arrive at Mutinda Camp at 3588 meters.
In the afternoon you may wish to climb up to the top of the Mutinda Lookout (1-2 hours up and 1 hour down), which has stunning views of the Rwenzori Mountains and is an excellent way to acclimatise and reduce the risk of high altitude sickness. Sleep at Mutinda Camp at 3.582 metres.
Day 5: Thursday 30th March 2023
Hike to Bugata Camp at 4062 metres
The trail to Bugata Camp is boggy, particularly in the wet season but with a little skill, you can step from tussock to tussock to make the going easier.
First, you cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass and everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias before climbing a steep section up to the Namusangi Valley (3,840 meters), with sheer waterfalls. Looking back you get fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks. The Namusangi Valley is wide, with many ups and downs as the trail climbs steadily to Bugata Camp at 4,100 metres.
Day 6: Friday 31st March 2023
Hike to Hunwick’s Camp 3974 meters
Ascend up to Bamwanjarra Pass at 4,450 meters where we have a hut in case the weather turns bad. From the pass on a clear day, you get excellent views of the three main peaks.
The trail then passes down the valley and around the edge of some bogs and thick evergreen vegetation. Here is possibly the best place in all the Rwenzori to observe the Malachite Sunbird as it feeds on the many lobelia flowers and is a known breeding site.
Next, there are some steep sections before a steady climb up to Hunwick's Camp which is situated on the top of a deep valley with excellent views of Mt Stanley.
Day 7: Saturday 1st April 2023
Climb to Margherita Camp at 4,485 meters
From Hunwick's, you will pass down and across the valley floor to Lake Kitendara which is stunning with deep water and beautiful vegetation.
From here you climb up Scott Elliott's pass, then up the ridge to Margherita Camp at 4,485 metres. It is situated between some huge rocks offering some shelter from the strong winds.
Day 8: Sunday 2nd April 2023
Summit of Margherita peak at 5109 meters and descend to Hunwick’s Camp at 3.874 meters
Wake up at 2am and catch an early breakfast before heading off to climb Mt Stanley at 2.30am. This is necessary as the weather quickly changes and often the mountain is closed in with heavy clouds and snow falls from 1pm to 4pm. Due to this change in weather, we have set a strict turnaround time of 10am so if you do not reach the peak before then you must turn around regardless of the disappointment in the interests of safety.
Margherita glacier has also suffered from global warming and as the outer edges of the glacier recede the ice is becoming steeper with one section of about 200 meters more than 60% grade. Combined with this, much of the blacker has melted underneath causing caves under the ice which as it gets thinner eventually cave in, so is necessary that clients understand and take the advice of where the guides suggest passing.
After ascending the peak at 5,109 metres you then pass directly down to Hunwick's Camp at 3.874 metres.
Day 9: Monday 3rd April 2023
Descend down to Kiharo Camp at 3430 metres through Oliver’s pass
The distance to Kiharo Camp is 11km and takes 4 to 7 hours to walk.
We begin by climbing up a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong where you get the best views of all three peaks and Scott Elliott’s Pass before reaching Oliver’s Pass at 4,505 metres.
The trail then cuts across below Weismann’s Peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down through Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elisabeth National Park. After crossing the confluence the trail meanders down the valley to Kiharo Camp at which is situated in a deep valley with high cliffs and dense vegetation.
Day 10: Tuesday 4th April 2023
Descend downhill to base camp in Kilimbe.
The distance from Kiharo Camp to the park gate is 12.2km and then another 2.8km down to Trekkers Hostel. The time to walk is 5 to 8 hours.
The trail down the Nyamwamba Valley is mostly downhill and absolutely stunning with beautiful views, moss-covered rocks along the river, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys and forests that are possibly the best in the Rwenzori Mountains.
From Trekkers Hostel, you will be picked up by your guide and transferred to Elephant Plains Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 11: Wednesday 5th April 2023
Game drive and fly to Kihihi Airstrip
This morning there is an optional game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park where you can search for lions, elephants, buffaloes and other wild animals in their natural habitat.
After the game drive, you will be transferred to Kasese Airstrip for your afternoon domestic flight to Kihihi Airstrip. On landing, you will be taken to Mahogany Springs Lodge for dinner where you will stay for the next three nights.
Day 12: Thursday 6th April 2023
Gorilla trekking at Bwindi
Following breakfast, you will head to the national park offices where the group will be allocated a gorilla family and tracking guide. You will receive a briefing and then head off to find the gorillas which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours.
Upon sighting the gorillas, you spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life; feeding, moving, playing, raising their young and sometimes wrestling with the juveniles – it is a totally unique and unforgettable experience!
Day 13: Friday 7th April 2023
Day at leisure
Spend a day at leisure at Bwindi with optional activities like the guided forest walk, learn about Batwa cultural experience or visit the community.
Day 14: Saturday 8th April 2023
Transfer from Kihihi to Entebbe
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Kihihi Airstrip for your morning domestic flight to Entebbe. On landing, you will be transferred to Protea Hotel Entebbe where you stayed at the start of your trip.
You can relax in the hotel or explore this leafy suburb, with lunch and dinner being by your own arrangements.
Day 15: Sunday 9th April 2023
Transfer to Entebbe Airport to connect with your International flight back home.
Duration: 15 days
Location: Uganda, Africa
The per-person price of £7,250 is based on sharing in twin or double accommodation and excludes international flights. There will be a maximum of 8 people on this trip.
The price includes all accommodation, transfers, all meals and activities as indicated in the itinerary (including Mount Margherita summit, 1 x game drive and 1 x gorilla trekking), all permits and park fees, and all guiding services.
Single room supplement: £600.