ORGANIZATIONS IN THE RWENZORI
Trekking in the Rwenzori
There are several associations operating the trekking in the Rwenzori according to different areas and concessions from the National park Authority: the Central sector, the Northern sector and the Southern sector.
RMS headquaters in Nyakalengija in 2005
Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS)
Since the rediscovery in modern times of the Rwenzori Mountains people come to Uganda from all over the world to experience their wonder and mountaineering challenge. Whereas in the early part of the last century there might have been just a few hundreds or less per year, the number of visitor increased markedly in the last 15 years.
In response to this trend, and motivated by a desire to preserve the mountain environment which provides their livelihood, in 1987 seventy Bakonzo people got together and founded the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS). Many of them had served as mountain tourist guides and porters (escorts) for a long time before and after Uganda’s independence in 1962. RMS is an indigenous Non Government Organization registered by Uganda’s Non Government Organization Board.
In December 2005 RMS successfully obtained a 30year concession for the Central Circuit of the Rwenzori Mountain Area, concerning the use and improvement of the huts and for the provision of guides and porters services for the tourists. Today Rwenzori Mountaineering Services has a membership of more than 1000, which are mainly Bakonzo and include both female and male, the largest number is of the age between 18-35, though it also claims a good number of the elderly group.
The Board of Directors is composed by 15 members: seven from the Foundation Board (the 70 founder members) and 8 from the General Membership. The Board governs the organization and nominates a Managing Director for the executive work. An annual general meeting by the whole members is conveyed in order to discuss and take action on policies and development of the organization.
Profit from tourism activities are ploughed back into the community to do community work like the construction of schools, churches, roads, bursaries to students, lower range bridge construction, development of health facilities within the community, training of the community on conservation, improved sustainable agricultures etc.
In summary, RMS has the following objectives:
-Protection of the physical and biological mountain environment
-Promotion of tourism as a vehicle to drive community development.
Abanyarwenzori Mountaineering Association (AMA)
Abanya – Rwenzori Mountaineering Association (AMA) is a community based organisation interested in sharing and protecting not just the natural beauty of Rwenzori Mountains National Park but also its rich heritage and native culture as the two are inseparable. The headquarter is based in Bundibugyo, in the Semliki Valley in the Northern Rwenzori.
The association offers nature guided walks in the Northern Rwenzori, the so called “Kazingo Route”, which starts from Kazingo village (1.600 m) outside Fort Portal town.
It is also provided basic accommodation and camping, cook services, other than cultural performances like traditional dances, visiting traditional doctors, heritage sites, handicraft making and story tellers.
The Kazingo Trail:
The trekking passes through the thick jungle of Mountain forest vegetation as you are entertained by the playful Rwenzori Colobus, Blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys and the amazing giant earthworms. Then move into the peaceful swaying music of the dense bamboo forest with a chance of spotting the colourful Rwenzori Turaco. Enjoy the climb onto the mossy wind blown ridges of the Ericacecular zone on your way to Karangora peak at 3014m with its spectacular views of the Rift Valley, the Semuliki River, Congo and Central Uganda. Or descend on the Northern Spur ridge with the spectacular scenery of the maundering Semliki River, the beginning of Nile River in the Semliki plains as low as 600m.
Abanyarwenzori Mountaineering Association tours are offered
Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS)
The Rwenzori Trekking Services (RTS) are the concessionaire to manage the “Kilembe Trail”, the new route open in the Southern Rwenzori, officially inaugurated by Uganda Wildlife Authority on 27th September 2008. The headquarter is in Kilembe, village outside Kasese town along Kilembe road.
The RTS were founded by Mr. John Hunwick, for 25 years active in building community projects for the benefit of communities. In this view, tourism should bring local development in terms of social support, construction of schools, roads, health centres and giving new job opportunities. Seen the benefits of tourism, the communities will be incentivated to contribute for the sustainable development and conservation of the national park, reducing on activities like poaching within the national aprk or cutting of trees for charcoal burning.
As part of this strategy to provide an alternative income for the communities, RTS has set up community trails. There are in 2008 three community trails open to the tourists:
1: The Buwatha Trail is a two day walk starting from Rwenzori Backpackers Hostel, at 1493m outside Kasese along Kilembe road and climbs to 2,150 m with fantastic views of the mountains and forests.
2: The Rucoochi Falls Trail is a one day walk and needs a higher level of fitness climbing as there are some steep parts up to 2,100 metres with great views of the mountains
3: The Nyamwamba Trail is a shoter trail meandering up the valley alongside the river climbing to 1,850 metres.
During the month of July 2007 Rwenzori Trekking Services collected 5,585,000/- (five million five hundred and eighty five thousand shillings) from community walks organized on behalf of the community in Kilembe Sub County with 94 tourists climbing the Buwatha trail and 59 tourists climbing the Rukoki trail. This is on top of the 3 million shilling already received by the Nyamwamba Community Development Association for trekking done March to June 2007.
RTS organises and monitors the training of skilled members of the community to run the activities. The community based organisation (CBO) Nyamwamba Community Development Association or NCDA was created, with also the involvement of Uganda Wildlife Authority. The project has acquired a building in Kyanjuki for use as a cultural centre and craft shop where local people particularly women may participate. Here tourists will be able to watch cultural activities such as dancing, learn how to play various cultural music instruments and be part of the community.
These projects are indicative of the commitment to local development from RTS, as the saying goes in the local language for the people of the Rwunzuru “Baghuma” (bavuma) meaning ‘for all the community’.
The Rwenzori Ranges Guides and Escorts Association (RRGEA)
Rwenzori Ranges Guides and Escorts Association
The Rwenzori Ranges Guides and Escorts Association is a community based non-governmental organization formed in the year 1998 by Rwenzori mountain climbing guides and escorts / porters. The association gained a reputation of providing good services, since they improved on the training and equipment of the mountain guides. The guides use the most professional mountain gear and equipment. They also provide trained cooks and porters. The association is currently running the Rwenzori Central Circuit Trail, the Mahoma Trail and Karangura – Rwagimba – Bukurungu trail.
Our Kasese Tourist operational office is 100 m off Kasese Main Roundabout on A.K Complex Room 7 along Kilembe Road.
Ibanda Tourist operational office is 2 minutes drive from Ibanda Trading Center, Bugoye Sub County, Kasese District.
Mail Address: P.O.Box 221 Kasese, Uganda, East Africa