The third and possibly hardest day so far of a ten day hike in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains. Despite only ascending 350m, compared with the 2,100m covered over the previous two days, the effects of altitude at around 4,000m above sea level could certainly be felt, and it was my first true experience of the notorious Rwenzori mud.
In contrast to the previous day the skies were clear above Mutinda Lookout as we started the day, but it wasn’t to last.
Heading up Mutinda Valley there were plenty of unusual plants, including Giant Lobelias.
As well as a reasonable amount of mud but also some planks in places.
There was such a variety of trees around.
A short climb up a stream took me into the neighbouring Namusangi Valley.
Which had a lengthy stretch of decent boardwalk, a far more pleasant if less memorable way to travel across the bogs of the Rwenzoris.
As I discovered when the boardwalk abruptly ended and I was plunged, almost literally, into a boggy landscape of tussock and thick and often deep mud. Wearing gumboots (aka Wellington or rubber boots) made total sense here, and made for a less stressful experience than wearing hiking boots and gaiters, other than on the one occasion when I ended up in mud to within an inch of the lip of my boot…
The decent boardwalk returned for a section, doing a great job of protecting this fragile landscape but it must have been quite a job to build.
It was then back to the mud, making for tough walking at about 4,000m above sea level.
These dead looking trees were pretty eerie.
Bugata Camp is situated part way up Bamwanjara Pass, on a rocky outcropping above the oddly square shaped Lake Bugata.
After a final uphill push I made it to Bugata Camp (4,062m), which is a series of tents, with a rather uneven looking helipad, the only one along the track.
There I met an older American guy with 40% capacity in his left lung who had been there for three days. He had been to Everest Base Camp, but took 19 days due to his slower pace at altitude. In the Rwenzoris there aren’t that many camps, and camping isn’t an option between them, so he was stuck. To reach the next camp at Butawu is a 5-7 hour hike normally but would take him at least double that, and there are only twelve hours of daylight here.
His daughter was out doing the six hour return walk to summit of Weismann’s Peak, which appealed to me, but arriving at Bugata by lunchtime didn’t really allow enough time, and soon after arriving rain set in for an hour. I spent the afternoon at the camp instead, which passed fast as usual, getting things set up for the evening and next day, washing, reading, and writing this blog post…