|Highest peak||Margherita Peak (Mount Stanley) ( )|
|location||Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda|
|part of||East Africa|
|particularities||Rwenzori Mountains National Park,
World Natural Heritage ( UNESCO )
The Ruwenzori Mountains (mostly written Rwenzori in English ) are the third highest mountains in Africa with up to . It is located in East Africa on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda and is one of the only three mountain ranges in Africa that have glaciations . Because of its high ecological importance, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site .
The name Ruwenzori is derived from the term Rwenjura (pronounced: Rwen-dschura) in the language of the Ugandan-based Batoro and means something like "Rainmaker", but can also be translated as "Cloud King". Initially there were many other spellings such as Ruwenzururu , Ruwenjura , Runssoro , Rundjuru , Rwenzuzu , Rwenzeri , but the British-American Africa explorer Henry Morton Stanley favored Ruwenzori . The name subsequently prevailed and is still the common name in the Congo and in German-speaking countries, also supported by the expedition reports by Luigi Amadeo of Savoy .
In the English-speaking countries, however, the spelling Rwenzori has prevailed. It is considered closer to the original pronunciation and has therefore also been the official spelling in Uganda since the 1980s.
Location and surroundings
The Ruwenzori Mountains are about 160 km long and 50 km wide in a north-south direction and are located about 40 km north of the equator in the middle of the extremely elongated East African Rift Valley in the Western Rift , the western branch of the rift valley , between Lake Albert in the northeast and the Eduardsee in the southwest. A little further to the west, beyond the rift or behind the mountains there, is the Congo Basin . In the east, the terrain slopes down to the Georgsee or Eduardsee and the highlands of Uganda, on which Lake Victoria lies, before the other side of the Rift ditch is reached further east. A large part of the Ruwenzori, especially the high central part of the Ruwenzori Mountains, is mainly in Uganda , the western slopes belong to the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The most historically and touristically significant place in the vicinity of the mountains is Fort Portal , northeast of the Ruwenzori in Uganda. Other important cities are Kasese and Kilembe to the southeast , which are already in the mountains. Ibanda, a relatively small place in eastern Ruwenzori, is an important starting point for tourism. Bundibugyo is located in the northwest, but still in Uganda . On the Congolese side, Mutwanga in the western part of the Ruwenzori and Kasindi in the south should be mentioned.
The main peaks are in the center of the Ruwenzori Mountains, which are about 50 km long from north to south and about 40 km wide from east to west and are divided into several sub-mountains.
The massif of the Stanley Mountains has the highest Ruwenzori peak, the Pic Marguerite or Margherita Peak ( ), over which the border between Congo and Uganda runs. Its height is sometimes given as , or . It is connected to the second highest mountain - Alexandra ( ) - via a high ridge . Other peaks of this massif are Albert ( ) and Wasuwamesu ( ) in the Congo and Möbius ( ) and Savoia ( ) in Uganda.
Mount Speke (also called Speke Plateau) includes the peaks Vittoria-Emanuele ( ) and Johnston ( ) in Uganda.
For Mount Baker (also called Baker Plateau) in Uganda include the summit Edward ( ), Semper ( ), Wollaston ( ) and Moore ( ).
Mount Emin is the northernmost of the high Ruwenzori massifs and is the only one completely on the Congolese side. The highest peak is Umberto (also Humbert , ). The second important peak, Kraepelin Peak , is high.
Mount Gessi is located in the northeast of central Rwenzori in Uganda. The highest peak is Iolanda (also Jolanda , ), Bottego is high.
The Mount Luigi di Savoia (also called Luigi di Savoia-plateau), also located in Uganda, is the southernmost massif and includes the summit Sella ( ), Weismann ( ) and Stairs ( ).
Also in Uganda are the Portal Peaks (also called Mount Portal Peaks or Portal Peaks Plateau) with the summit points Kihuma ( ), Middle Portal ( ) and Rutara ( ). These peaks are not glaciated.
Rivers and valleys
The Bujuku River has its source between Mount Stanley and Mount Speke and flows east through the Bujuku Valley, which is one of the most important accesses to the core zone of the mountains. Tributaries to the Bujuku are the Mugusu (also Migusi ), which rises between Gessi and Speke, and the Kurungu , which has its origin between Gessi and the Portal Peaks. The Mubuku (also Mobuku ), into which the Bujuku flows, rises between Mount Baker and Mount Savoia . The Mubuku Valley is the main gateway to southern Ruwenzori, especially Mount Baker and Mount Savoia. The valley of the Kuruguta , which leads directly to the south of the Savoia, is less important .
The Butawu , which rises from the Kitandara Lakes in the southern area between Mount Baker and Mount Savoia, flows to the west .
In Ruwenzori there are some lakes that owe their creation mostly to the retreat of the glaciers and can therefore be classified as glacial edge lakes . The largest include the Kitandara Lakes ( ) southwest of Mount Baker, Lake Bujuku ( ) in the upper Bujuku Valley and Lake Vert ( ) west of Mount Stanley.
The Ruwenzori is the only one of the high mountains in Africa that is not of volcanic origin. The Ruwenzori Mountains are geological peculiarities, because here a break occurs within a continental plate . This formed the East African Rift as part of the Great African Rift Valley . The East Africa plate moves away from the rest of the continent by about two cm per year, so that the rift is getting wider. Nevertheless, the Ruwenzori was in the development of this volcanic and tectonically active grave rupture in at least two phases of Precambrian rocks as Horst raised. About eight and three million years ago there was strong volcanic activity and uplifting processes in the African rift. The Ruwenzori Mountains were also created.
The climate in the Ruwenzori Mountains is characterized by very high humidity (up to 100%) and large amounts of precipitation in almost all climatic and vegetation zones . Mountain slopes often turn into treacherous mud slides. Because it rains around 300 days a year and the evaporation is very strong due to the warm updrafts , the mountains are mostly shrouded in clouds. Damp-warm to hot weather prevails in the lower areas and more icy-damp cold on the peaks.
From April to October, southeast winds dominate here, bringing the monsoons . From October to March, however, northeast is the main wind direction. The wind speed is usually only weak. The eastern flank of the mountains in particular records peak values with up to 2500 millimeters of precipitation per year, with these amounts being reached from the rainforest zone at the foot of the mountains to the summit region. In comparison, the plains around the mountains are much drier and only reach about a third of this amount.
The temperatures during the rainy season are slightly lower than in the dry season due to the lower solar radiation, but the differences are small. The daily fluctuations are also very small. For example, the temperature on the Bujuku Hut ( frost occurs almost every night . The average temperature decreases by about 0.65 ° C with a height of 100 meters. The zero degree limit is around to .) fluctuates constantly between −1 ° C and 10 ° C. From
Along with Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the Ruwenzori is the third mountain range on the continent whose highest peak regions are glaciated , although it is located in the hot tropical regions. Almost all peaks of the Massif Central, almost all of which are in Uganda, are above the snow line; Most of the mountains are easy from around 4500 m and heavily glaciated from 4800 m.
But the area that was 6.5 square kilometers when it was first explored a hundred years ago is declining due to global warming; today it is only around half a square kilometer. It should be noted, however, that the information to be found in the literature often differs greatly from one another. The glaciers are currently shrinking by several dozen meters each year due to continuously rising temperatures. The equilibrium line was below until around 1900 , at around 1955 and at least 100 meters higher today.
In 1955 there were still 42 glaciers in Ruwenzori, in 1988 there were only 30. Today only Mount Stanley is extensively glaciated, all other massifs only have small ice fields. Mount Gessi and Mount Emin, which were still heavily glaciated around the beginning of the 20th century, are already considered completely ice-free today. Scientists reckon that the glaciers will soon have completely disappeared.
Flora and fauna
The Ruwenzori Mountains represent an important, lush and species-rich habitat for the African flora and fauna . Several species are endemic here . In addition, several species that are very endangered elsewhere can be found here. It is expected that many species of Ruwenzori have not yet been discovered.
Some plant communities of the Ruwenzori are similar to those of the Andes in South America.
The identification of clearly delimited altitude levels is hardly possible in the Ruwenzori area, as the vegetation of certain altitudes can differ greatly depending on the exposure and the individual plant communities strongly overlap.
The lowlands around the Ruwenzori Mountains are mainly characterized by grassland that extends up to a height of about Napier grass from the genus of pennon cleaner grasses is a typical plant of the valleys of this altitude, shorter grasses and many flowering plants grow on the hills, the umbrella acacia trees are to be named. Agriculture is practiced in this zone, including manioc , plantains , beans , sweet potatoes and taro .. During the dry season, there are numerous fires here, which destroy large parts of the area and can reach dangerous proportions. Such fires often also affect higher vegetation zones. The densely growing
The mountain forest , which reaches up to around , is not particularly dense and has a patchy canopy . Most of the trees reach about 30 meters, including stone discs , tree ferns of the genus Cyathea , bananas of the genus Ensete and numerous climbing plants that form a scrub that is difficult to penetrate. The degree of soil coverage with plants is very high here.
The tree line is only at an altitude of up to koso tree , Rapanea rhododendroides or Hypericum lanceolaticum from the genus of St. John's herbs . Hypericum bequaertii occurs only on Ruwenzori, as does the ray aralia Schefflera polysciadia . Even ragweeds reach tree height here. Heather and plants of the genus Rapanea are particularly common here . The characteristic plants of Ruwenzori, however, are the lobelia , which can grow particularly high here, e.g. Lobelia lanuriensis can reach heights of up to eight meters.. Trees that occur here are, for example, the
Between Everlasting flowers grow up to one and a half meters high here, and lady's mantle plants can also be found here. Lobelia wollastonii is the best-known species of lobelia that can reach these heights.and is an alpine zone in which the temperature decreases regularly in the night below freezing.
In the deeper regions of the Ruwenzori several species of monkeys as living chimpanzee , Angola colobus and Blue monkey . The bushbuck and the African buffalo also occur here, although the latter is rare. The okapi was discovered on the southern foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains at the end of the 19th century . The black-fronted duiker and the giant forest pig are common up to , but can sometimes also be found up to the tree line . The African elephant is also more common at lower altitudes, but sometimes migrates up to heights of , especially on the west side of the Congolese . The tree hyrax also often occurs up to this height , but it also penetrates even higher, as does the leopard .
The bird fauna is represented by the endemic Ruwenzori turaco , Edelfrankolin , olive pigeon and several species of nectar birds , for example the lobelia nectar bird . The latter, like the black duck and the alpine swift, is common in the alpine zone. Vulture raven and mountain buzzard can be found at all altitudes up to the summit regions.
The endemic frog Africana ruwenzorica should be mentioned as a representative of the amphibians . Two species of chameleon , Chamaeleo adolfi-friederici and Chamaeleo ituriensis, also occur only here.
National parks and nature conservation
The area on the Ugandan side is part of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park proclaimed in 1994 . This includes the central part of the Ruwenzori Mountains , which include its lush mountain rainforests . The purpose of the 996 km² national park is to protect the landscape and the flora and fauna and to preserve them for the future. The protected area is now managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), which also regulates the number of visitors.
The Congolese part of the Ruwenzori is part of the Virunga National Park (founded in 1925 as Parc National Albert , also Parc National Albert de Kivu , since 1969 Virunga National Park) under protection since 1929.
Control of the area has often proven difficult, especially in times of political instability, protective measures in the Ruwenzori became almost impossible. This was the case from about 1997 to 2001 due to the Congo War . Rebel groups used the mountains as a retreat and carried out attacks, and there was also illegal logging and poaching . Chimpanzees and buffalo in particular were affected by the hunt for bushmeat , the latter were almost wiped out.
Another problem is the increasing population density in the area around the park and the associated overexploitation of the land, which among other things leads to increased erosion .
The Ruwenzori Mountains are hardly developed. In the lower mountain regions, the paths in an elaborate system often lead only as dead ends to the mud huts of the plantation workers, only a few paths that are part of this system lead through the labyrinth of the jungle up to the summit regions. The mountain landscape is criss-crossed by small paths, which in the rainforest - wetlands are usually difficult to negotiate and often resemble elongated mud slopes or lead through the thicket (undergrowth, undergrowth, scrub and tall trees) and quickly overgrown again. Paths and climbing routes lead to the summit.
There are several mountain huts available for alpinists . They are only available to mountaineers who have booked the overnight stay in advance. On the Ugandan side, these are the Nyabitaba Hut ( ), Guy Yeoman Hut ( ), John Matte Hut ( ), Bigo Hut ( ), Bujuku Hut ( ), Kitandara Hut ( ) , Elena Hut ( ) and Irene Lakes Hut ( ). They are not managed and offer night camps equipped with mattresses.
On the Congolese side are the huts Kyandolere (), Kalongi ( ), Mahungu ( ), Kyondo ( ) and Moraine ( ). They are considered to be better equipped than the Ugandan accommodations.
In addition, steep, overhanging rock walls offer rain-protected storage areas ("rock shelters") for up to a hundred people, which are also of tourist importance.
Tourism and alpinism
If the political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda allows, the region around the Rwenzori Mountains and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is very popular with tourists and nature lovers. Many tourists also come for mountaineering. The Ugandan side is many times more important in terms of tourism than the Congolese, which is due on the one hand to larger bureaucratic hurdles and nature conservation conditions, but also to the political situation and poor accessibility in the Congo.
Because of the great height, the ascent of the summit requires suitable equipment and sufficiently long acclimatization to avoid altitude sickness and good physical resilience, even if porters are available to transport the equipment. Because the constant high humidity , the frequent precipitation and the all-pervasive wetness, combined with tropical heat in the lower areas and the cold in the summit regions, represent strong physical stress. The Ruwenzori is considered to be the most difficult alpine and physically demanding high mountains in Africa. Apart from alpinism in the narrower sense, trekking tourism is also important in the region. One of the most popular routes leads from Ibanda via the Bujuku and Kitandara hut.
The Ruwenzori Mountains are hardly suitable for skiing , as the approaches to the glacier region are long and the glaciers usually have little snow cover or are completely aperous in the dry season . In 1951 the Stanley Plateau was skied for the first time. Having skied on the Ruwenzori is a prerequisite for admission to the Ski Club of Uganda, which was founded in 1955 .
Prehistory and first explorations
Rumors of a snow-capped mountain range in the middle of Africa that feed the Nile have been known for a long time. The Greek tragedy poet Aeschylus reported about 500 BC. BC for the first time that "Egypt is nourished by snow". A little later, around 450 BC. BC, Herodotus described the source of the Nile as a lake between two mountain peaks, which, according to some researchers, corresponds to Lac de la Lune . In the first century after the birth of Christ, the Greek mathematician, geographer and astronomer Ptolemy put the legendary "moon mountains" on the maps of the time, in which he localized the sources of the Nile. These were part of the Africa maps until the 19th century. However, it is not known whether and how the ancients could have knowledge of the Ruwenzori Mountains, so that the equation of these ancient mythical mountains with the Ruwenzori is controversial. In many cases, Kilimanjaro , Mount Kenya , and the Virunga Mountains behind the "moon mountains" were also suspected. Nevertheless, there are some parallels between the descriptions of Ptolemy and the circumstances of the Ruwenzori, there is also at least one of the tributaries of the Nile in the Ruwenzori Mountains.
The first modern sightings of the mountains are controversial. Several expeditions, such as those of Samuel Baker in 1864, Henry Morton Stanley and Romolo Gessi in 1876, reported mountains in this region. The descriptions remained vague, however, and it was presumably often other mountains. The clouds that are so frequent here also prevented a discovery, several researchers, such as Emin Pascha in 1886 and Gaetano Casati in 1887, were close to the mountains without seeing it. Henry M. Stanley finally "discovered" the Ruwenzori on May 24, 1888, after two members of his expedition are said to have seen him on April 20. From 1889 to 1890 Stanley was looking for the sources of the Nile during an expedition he led and sighted the mountain range from about 100 km away.
In 1889 Stanley passed the western foot of the mountains, the expedition participant William Grant Stairs penetrated to an altitude of about . In 1891 Emin Pascha reached an altitude of almost . In the years that followed, numerous other researchers, including Jean Jacques David in 1904 and Rudolf Grauer in 1906, reached ever greater heights.
In 1906 Luigi Amadeo of Savoy led a large expedition to explore the mountains. For five months, the researchers mapped the Ruwenzori, the expedition member Vittorio Sella documented the previously little-known region photographically. In the course of this, the experienced alpinists were able to climb all the important peaks of the Ruwenzori for the first time . In addition to scientists and photographers, four mountain guides and around 150 porters were employed for this purpose. Some peaks were climbed several times, the expedition recorded a total of 30 summit ascents in 40 days. In addition, important botanical collections could be created and several new animal species described.
In 1911 the Ruwenzori established the state border for the first time by a Congolese-Ugandan border commission.
The first overflight of the Ruwenzori by Gordon Noel Humphreys in 1931 provided an overview of the mountains and their glaciations for the first time and was an important basis for further exploration. Humphreys was also able to climb several peaks of Ruwenzori in the following years, opening several new routes and mapping much previously unexplored terrain.
Development of tourism
As early as 1942, the national park administration built the first refuges on the Congolese side of the Ruwenzori. In 1946 the Uganda section of the East African Mountains Club was founded. From 1948 the first hut on the Ugandan side was opened with the Bujuku hut, and several more followed in the next few years.
The Ruwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS) tourism association was founded in 1987 and has been guiding paying customers along the Central Circuit Trail to Mount Stanley and neighboring peaks ever since . In 2009, a new route to the summit was opened up with the Kilembe Trail , which is offered by the newly founded Rwenzori Trekking Service (RTS).
The peak of tourism was in the 1990s. Between 1988 and 1993 the number of visitors rose from under 400 to over 1600. When Uganda was affected by the Congo War, tourism and thus the region's economy also suffered. In 1997, after rebels invaded Uganda, the park was closed so that no tourists could visit the area from 1998 to 2000. Since then, the number of visitors has started to recover, but at under 400 (as of 2004) it is still far below the level before the war.
- Luigi Amadeo of Savoy : The Ruwenzori. Exploration and first ascent of its highest peaks . Edited by F. de Filippi. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1909.
- Eugen Eisenmann: Black people - white mountains. Ruwenzori expedition, Stuttgart branch of the German Alpine Club . Kosmos, Stuttgart 1939.
- Henry A. Osmaston, David Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. The Mountains of the Moon . Mountain Club of Uganda et al., Kampala 1972.
- Bernd Noggler: Modern glacier fluctuations on the Ruwenzori - East Africa . Innsbruck 1992 (Innsbruck, university, diploma thesis).
- United Nations Environment Program , World Conservation Monitoring Center (Ed.): Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda . 1994 ( online [PDF; 150 kB ; accessed on February 10, 2013]).
- Christoph Höbenreich: Ruwenzori - 100 years of first ascent. The Cloud King of Uganda . In: Berg. Alpine Club Yearbook . tape 131 , 2007, ISSN 0179-1419 , pp. 240-251 .
- Andreas Klotz, Stephan Martin Meyer: Mountains of the moon. An Africa thriller . TiPP 4, Rheinbach 2012, ISBN 978-3-9812944-7-7 (  ).
- Entry on the UNESCO World Heritage Center website ( English and French ).
- Ruwenzori image documentation
- Current research project in the Rwenzori area
- Ruwenzori Mountains on Peakbagger.com (English)
- Rwenzori Mountains on SummitPost.org
- Rwenzori on Peakware.com
- How did the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda come about? and The Giants by Ruwenzori on scinexx
- For example: Parc national de la Virunga at ICCN, State Nature Protection Authority , n Commune de Ruwenzori in Presidential Decree ° 08/057 du 24 septembre 2008 ( Memento of 27 November 2010 at the Internet Archive ), Ruwenzori in labeling the map of administrative divisions, Stand : October 2008 ( Memento from April 1, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
- Höbenreich: Ruwenzori - 100 years of first ascent. 2007, p. 245.
- Noggler: Modern glacier fluctuations on the Ruwenzori - East Africa. 1992, p. 48.
- Luigi Amadeo of Savoy: The Ruwenzori. Exploration and first ascent of its highest peaks . 1909.
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, p. 129.
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, pp. 133-134.
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, pp. 139-142.
- Noggler: Modern glacier fluctuations on the Ruwenzori - East Africa. 1992, p. 39.
- Rwenzori Mountains on SummitPost.org
- Noggler: Modern glacier fluctuations on the Ruwenzori - East Africa. 1992, p. 55.
- United Nations Environment Program , World Conservation Monitoring Center (ed.): Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda . 1994 ( online [PDF; 150 kB ; accessed on February 10, 2013]).
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, pp. 143-145.
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, p. 15.
- UNESCO World Heritage Center: Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Retrieved August 22, 2017 (English).
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, pp. 7-16.
- Höbenreich: Ruwenzori - 100 years of first ascent. 2007, p. 251.
- Karl Gratzl: Myth Mountain. Lexicon of the important mountains from mythology, cultural history and religion . Hollinek, Purkersdorf 2000, ISBN 3-85119-280-X , p. 350 .
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, p. 128.
- Höbenreich: Ruwenzori - 100 years of first ascent. 2007, p. 242.
- Osmaston, Pasteur: Guide to the Ruwenzori. 1972, pp. 147-163.
- u. a. Oldfield Thomas : Description of new mammals from Mount Ruwenzori. Annals and Magazine of Natural History Series 7, Volume 8, 1906; P. 140. ( digitized version ).