Ruwenzori Mountains (World Heritage)

Ruwenzori Mountains (World Heritage)

Africa

According to directoryaah, the Ruwenzori, located in the border area to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, directly on the equator, is the third highest mountain range in Africa with a height of 5109 m. It is approx. 120 km long and 50 km wide and is one of the most beautiful mountain regions in Africa. The landscape is extremely diverse, the upper mountain range is glaciated and the slopes are overgrown with lush rainforest which, in addition to numerous endemic species, has giant plants such as giant lobelia and giant heather. The enormous humidity is characteristic. The precipitation from the mountains feeds the Nile.

Ruwenzori Mountains: Facts

Official title: Ruwenzori Mountains
Natural monument: since 1991 a national park with 996 km²; Heights from 1700 to 5119 m; 28 km² below 2000 m and 698 km² above 2500 m
Continent: Africa
Country: Uganda
Location: on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near Kasese, west of Kampala
Appointment: 1994
Meaning: one of the most beautiful alpine regions in Africa with the third largest mountain on the continent, the 5119 m high Margherita Peak
Flora and fauna: below 2400 m Symphonia globulifera and Prunus africana, up to 3000 m also the African mountain bamboo species Arundinaria alpina, over 3800 m up to 10 m high Philippia trimera and the silver tree Protea kingaensis, as well as the kosso tree, Rapanea rhododendroides and the St. John’s wort family Hypericum lanceolatum and only occurring in Ruwenzori – Hypericum bequaertii and Schefflera polysciadia; 89 forest bird species (27% of the species found in Uganda); 4 species of primate such as chimpanzees, monkeys and rivenzori colobus monkeys as well as 15 species of butterflies (22% of the species living in Uganda)

The “moon mountains” of antiquity

When you drive west in the plain of Uganda, you can see a cloud-covered mountain range appearing on the horizon from afar – the Ruwenzoris. Now one understands why the Greek astronomer, mathematician and natural scientist Ptolemy, who worked in Alexandria in the second century AD, marked this mountain range, which he called “moon mountains”, on the maps of antiquity as the end of the world. Only if you are lucky will you see the Ruwenzoris, which are considered by those who know Africa to be the most beautiful and strangest region, with their huge snowfields once cloudless. The numerous rivers and small watercourses that have their source in this area are the main sources of the Nile. Should they flow less or even dry up as a result of deforestation, the consequences downstream of the Nile would be unforeseeable and devastating. The local mountains are the most densely vegetated area on earth with a special biodiversity at the same time. Tall trees with dense crowns, lianas, huge ferns, flowering epiphytes and bushes covering the ground form an impenetrable thicket. Countless plants and invertebrates do not even have a name here or have not yet been discovered. With an average rainfall of up to 5000 mm per year, it is almost impossible to experience a day without heavy rain showers that soak everyone down to the skin in a matter of seconds. So it’s no wonder that the mountains are called Ruwenzori: In the language of the locals, this means »rainmaker«.

While most of Africa’s high mountains are of volcanic origin, the Ruwenzoris are made of granite. The massif was pressed up by the pressure of the surrounding areas to form an eyrie that slopes towards the east. Therefore, the eastern slopes are steeper, which has an impact on cultivation and settlement. The steep, deeply cut, sometimes ravine-like, densely vegetated valleys were created by receding glaciers. These have melted away particularly in the last three decades, and this has made some peaks accessible to mountaineers in the first place.

The animal world has declined sharply in the last few decades. Where mountaineers used to have to be on their guard against buffalo and elephants, today it is almost a sensation to find traces of them. Only the bloodcurdling plaintive cries of the marmot-sized Ruwenzori tree hyrax, which only occur here, remind us that some mammals have survived here. These otherwise nocturnal herbivores inhabit rocks at heights of over 3000 m and are diurnal there. You can often see the metallic, shimmering, colorful nectar birds with their long, curved beaks looking for nectar on colorful flowers.

In the adjoining cloud forest zone, trees over 30 m high grow close together and hardly any light penetrates through their almost closed canopy. All branches have gray-green lichen that is meter-long and slowly sways back and forth in the barely moving, humid air. The mightiest tree ferns in Africa also grow here. The higher you go, the smaller the trees become, until they have completely disappeared in the subsequent impenetrable bamboo belt. Anyone who has fought their way through this zone comes to an area with giant cruciferous herbs and St. John’s wort plants as well as up to 15 m high tree lobelia, which have adapted to the existing habitat with this gigantism. There are no seasonal rest periods in this alpine zone. The Swedish botanist Hedberg put this very aptly: »Every day summer, every night winter. ”Sugary mucilages in the leaf rosettes of tree lobelia act like antifreeze, and sugar deposits in the tissue prevent the formation of ice, which would destroy the cells. Furry hairs and wax coatings on the leaves are additional means of protection against frost. Where the tree lobelia thrive, you pass bogs and small ponds with ice-cold water. On the further ascent to the eternal ice, only lichens and mosses cover the rocky ground. And finally the crowning glory of the Ruwenzoris: the snow-capped peaks, of which the highest is Margherita Peak at over 5000 m, by the way, Africa’s third highest mountain peak. that would destroy the cells. Furry hairs and wax coatings on the leaves are additional means of protection against frost. Where the tree lobelia thrive, you pass bogs and small ponds with ice-cold water. On the further ascent to the eternal ice, only lichens and mosses cover the rocky ground. And finally the crowning glory of the Ruwenzoris: the snow-capped peaks, of which the highest is Margherita Peak at over 5000 m, by the way, Africa’s third highest mountain peak. that would destroy the cells. Furry hairs and wax coatings on the leaves are additional means of protection against frost. Where the tree lobelia thrive, you pass bogs and small ponds with ice-cold water. On the further ascent to the eternal ice, only lichens and mosses cover the rocky ground. And finally the culmination of the Ruwenzoris: the snow-capped peaks, of which the highest is Margherita Peak at over 5000 m, by the way, Africa’s third highest mountain peak.

Ruwenzori Mountains (World Heritage)