Rwenzori Mountains – Sine Camp to Mutinda Camp

A reasonably tough second day hiking in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, ascending around 1,400m to reach nearly 4,000m above sea level. I was glad I’d spend a couple of weeks prior in Ethiopa at an average altitude of 3,000m, helping with acclimatisation. The day reminded me of challenging backcountry tracks in New Zealand, only at altitude, and with even more exotic plant life.

From Sine Camp it was straight up a steep, often rocky and muddy track through bamboo forest, gaining 551m of altitude in under 2km, taking an hour to reach Kalalama Camp at 3,147m above sea level.

There were some scenic views and unusual plants at the camp, though unfortunately it was overcast for much of the day, not helping the photography, though making the hiking a little more manageable.

From here the track was more undulating, taking 6km to ascend another 550m. There were some lovely flowers, views back down the valley, and the first real sighting of the infamous Rwenzori mud, though it was just about passable in hiking boots.

There were a couple of significant sections of boardwalk, protecting the fragile bog underneath from swallowing hikers. The plants in these areas were unlike anything else I’ve seen.

There were a few trickier sections of track, and a never ending variety of plants and landscape, a quite incredible place.

The lichen covered trees were atmospheric.

Mutinda Camp (3,688m) was reached after just over three hours, and had the same facilities as the previous night at Sine Camp, but was more surreal given the environment it sat within.

To help with acclimatisation, and to enjoy the views, I headed up to the 3,975m high Matinda Lookout. This involved a challenging ascent and descent of a very steep and often slippery track with thick mud and rocks. There were many ladders, but these presented their own challenges. It was the first time I’d worn gumboots (aka Wellington or rubber boots if you prefer) hiking, which worked better than expected, with reasonable grip, and they made the mud far more manageable.

It had been sunny at times on the way up to the lookout but the cloud closed in just before reaching the summit. There were still interesting views, including of Lake George, and brightly coloured moss, but the weather gods were against me.

I returned carefully back down, only to find that the skies cleared half an hour later as the setting sun illuminated the surrounding mountainside.

Author: jontycrane

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