The Ruwenzori, also spelled Rwenzori and Rwenjura, are a mountain range, range of mountains in eastern equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The highest peak of the Ruwenzori reaches , and the range's upper regions are permanently snow-capped and glacier, glaciated. Rivers fed by mountain streams form one of the sources of the Nile. Because of this, European exploration of Africa, European explorers linked the Ruwenzori with the legendary Mountains of the Moon (Africa), Mountains of the Moon, claimed by the Greek scholar Ptolemy as the source of the Nile. Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo and Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda are located within the range.


The mountains formed about three million years ago in the late Pliocene epoch and are the result of an uplifted block of Crystal, crystalline rocks including gneiss, amphibolite, granite and quartzite. This uplift divided the paleolake Obweruka and created three of the present-day African Great Lakes: Lake Albert (Africa), Lake Albert, Lake Edward, and Lake George (Uganda), Lake George. The range is about long and wide. It consists of six massifs separated by deep gorges: Mount Stanley (), Mount Speke (), Mount Baker (Uganda), Mount Baker (), Mount Emin (), Mount Gessi () and Mount Luigi di Savoia (). Mount Stanley has several subsidiary summits, with Margherita Peak being the highest point.

Human history

The mountains are occasionally identified with the legendary "Mountains of the Moon (Africa), Mountains of the Moon", depicted in Classical antiquity, antiquity as the source of the Nile River. Photographer Vittorio Sella took a number of photographs of the Ruwenzori Mountains during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, documenting the retreat of the range's glaciers. Sella's photographic work is conserved at the Museo Nazionale della Montagna in Turin and at the Istituto di Fotografia Alpina Vittorio Sella in Biella, both in Italy. The Makerere University, Uganda, also has a selection of his images.
Flowers of the Moon, Afroalpine vegetation of the Rwenzori Mountains
', Schutyser S., 2007, 5 Continents Editions, .
The first traverse of the six massifs of the Ruwenzori was done in 1975, starting on 27 January and ending on 13 February. The traverse was done by Polish climbers Janusz Chalecki, Stanisław Cholewa and Leszek Czarnecki, with Mirosław Kuraś accompanying them on the last half of the traverse.
Wielka Grań Ruwenzori 1975
', Wojtera T., Taternik iss 3. 1976.

Natural history


Image:Ruwenpflanzen.jpg, Lower Bigo Bog at 3400 m in the Ruwenzori, with giant lobelia in foreground The Ruwenzori are known for their vegetation, ranging from tropical rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of giant groundsel and lobelia deckenii, giant lobelia and even has a tall Calluna, heather covered in moss that lives on one of its peaks. Most of the range is now a World Heritage Site and is covered jointly by Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the eastern Congo. There is no water shortage in the Ruwenzori; yet, several members of the afro-alpine family resemble species that normally thrive in desert climates. The reason lies in their similar water economy. Water is not always readily available to the Afromontane, afroalpine plants when they need it. In addition, nightly frosts affect the sap transport in the plants and the intake of water by its roots. As the day begins, the air temperature and radiation level rise rapidly, putting strenuous demands on the exposed parts of the plants as they try to meet the transpiration demands of the leaves and maintain a proper water balance. To counter the effects of freezing, the afro-alpine plants have developed the insulation systems that give them such a striking appearance. These adaptations become more prominent as the elevation increases. There are five overlapping vegetation zones in the Ruwenzori: the evergreen forest zone (up to ); the bamboo zone (); the heather zone (); the alpine zone (); and, the nival zone (). At higher elevations, some plants reach an unusually large size, such as lobelia and groundsels. The vegetation in the Ruwenzori is unique to equatorial alpine Africa. Sources:

Glacial recession

An ongoing concern is the effects of climate change, impact of climate change on the Ruwenzori's glaciers. In 1906, forty-three named glaciers were distributed over six mountains with a total area of , about half the total glacier area in Africa. By 2005, less than half of these were still present, on only three mountains, with an area of about . Recent scientific studies, such as those by Richard Taylor of University College London, have attributed this retreat to global climate change and have investigated the impact of this change on the mountain's vegetation and biodiversity.[Rwenzori Glaciers (East Africa)], Tropical Glaciology Group, Innsbruck University

See also

*1966 Toro earthquake



* ''Glaciers of the Middle East and Africa'', Williams, Richard S., Jr. (editor) In: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 1991, pp.G1-G70 * ''Guide to the Ruwenzori'', Osmaston,H.A., Pasteur,D. 1972, Mountain Club of Uganda. 200 p.
''Recession of Equatorial Glaciers. A Photo Documentation''
Hastenrath, S., 2008, Sundog Publishing, Madison, WI, , 144 pp. * ''Tropical Glaciers'', Kaser, G., Osmaston, H.A. 2002, Cambridge University Press, UK. 207 p. * ''Ruwenzori'', Filippo De Filippi (explorer), De Filippi, F. 1909. Constable, London. 408 p.
Greenpeace article "The Death of the Ice Giants"

BBC Article "Fabled ice field set to vanish"

* Kaser et al. 2006, in ''International Book of Climatology'' 24: 329–339 (2004)

External links

UWM.edu: 1937 aerial photographs of Rwenzori Mountains
— ''University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries Digital Collections''. * {{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 Rwenzori Mountains, Albertine Rift montane forests Mountain ranges of Uganda Mountain ranges of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Great Rift Valley Kasese District North Kivu