Mount Stanley in Uganda (1)
Mount Stanley gets its name from Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the first European to ascend it. PHOTO/COURTESY

Mount Stanley is part of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first European to ascend the range, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, gave ‘Mount Stanley’ its name. This may leave some wondering. 

What country is Mount Stanely in? 

UNESCO recognized Mount Stanley as a World Heritage Site because it is part of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda.

Where is Mount Stanley in Uganda? 

It’s situated on the Ugandan-DRC border. After Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, it’s Africa’s third-highest peak at 5,109 metres.

It has nine peaks that are high enough to host glaciers, making the Margherita peak in Uganda, the highest. By 2025, if current trends continue, Rwenzori’s glaciers will be completely gone, according to a study.

A few of Margherita Peak’s 5,109-meter-high peaks (16,763ft),Alexandra 5,091 meters (16,703ft), Albert 5,087 meters (16,690ft), Savoia 4,977 meters (16,330ft), Ellena 4,968 meters (16,300ft), Elizabeth 4,929 meters (16,170ft),Phillip 4,920meters (16,140ft), Moebius 4,916meters (16,130ft), Great Tooth 4,603 meters (15,100ft).

History of Mount Stanely

In ancient Greece, there were stories about mountains of snow and ice that formed the Nile River’s source. ‘Mountains of Silver, the Nile’s source’ was mentioned in the 4th century BC by Aeschylus and Aristotle, respectively. 

“Lunae Montes” (The Mountains of the Moon) was correctly identified on Ptolemy’s map, which was published about 1800 years ago. 

Duke of Abruzzi’s expedition report states that this was a translation error from the name “white mountains,” but it has remained ever since. 

So why is Mount Stanley important? 

Mount Stanley (1)
Between two rifts located in the region lies Mt. Stanley, which is a fault-block mountain. PHOTO/COURTESY

Despite the stories, it was not until Henry Morton Stanley arrived in Central Africa that the mountains’ existence was established outside of the region.

When he first saw the range, in 1876, he mistook it for a cloud, but subsequently realised it was the snow-covered slopes of a mountain.

For many years, explorers tried to reach the heights but were repeatedly thwarted by dense vegetation, terrible weather, disease, or a lack of time. 

While this was true in 1905, a team including six scientists, four alpine guides, and world-renowned photographer Vittorio Sella was led by the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906. 

Over 300 porters helped them reach the highest elevations of the six massifs in the range, including Mt. Standley’s highest peaks, which retained glaciers at the time.

Unfortunately, the glaciers that were once so majestic have begun a rapid retreat. Three mountain ranges have completely lost their ice caps. A few tiny glaciers exist on Mount Baker, and Mt. Speke has only one glacier of any significance. 

Mount Stanley is the only summit in the range that still has a significant amount of glacial remaining. A recent study suggests that the ice could be completely gone by 2025.

Climbing Mount Stanely

You may be wondering, can you climb Mount Stanley? Well of course it’s possible to hike Mount Stanely in Uganda, but you’ll need at least seven days in the mountains to complete the various trek paths that lead to the summit. 

This is no easy hike, as you might assume.

You should be physically fit and ideally have some prior experience walking at high altitudes. Long days at high altitudes and difficult terrain are part of the challenge of the Mount Stanley hike.

Experience with ice-hiking is helpful but not required to reach the summit. The experts will teach you how to use ropes and crampons before the hike, but as always, experience is always helpful.

In many ways, the trek is more difficult than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Altitude sickness, on the other hand, is less likely to occur because the trekking routes are longer, allowing you more time to acclimate to the higher altitude levels.

So what type of mountain is Mount Stanely? 

The African Rift System’s Mt. Stanley is a fault-block mountain that rises between two rifts in the region. They are made up of gneiss and quartzite, which were created in the last 10 million years. 

In the highlands, mist, rain, and lightning are almost always present. There is no other place in the world where bogs, moss, and woodlands resembling those from the Lord of the Rings can be found. 

Heavy rain, sleet, and snowfall are on the range throughout much of the year, but the driest months are January/February and mid-June to mid-August.

Planning your vacation during one of such times is highly suggested. Even then, weeks of nonstop fog and rain are not uncommon. However, the rains are usually light and only last for a few hours at a time.

How to get to Mount Stanely 

Mt. Stanley’s best route to the rest of the world right now is through Uganda. On the banks of Lake Victoria in Entebbe Airport, which has regular flights to Nairobi. 

There are numerous hotels in Entebbe and Kampala, which are both less than an hour’s drive away. It’s possible to go to the mountain from Kampala by two primary routes: a northern one via Fort Portal, then south to the town of Ibanda, and a southern one via Kasese that crosses the Equator twice. 

To go to Ibanda, a town at the foot of the mountains, any of these options will take at least a day. The northern route’s roads range from excellent to difficult dirt tracks, while the southern route’s roads are mostly good paved ones.

You can save money by hiring a local outfitter (Churchill Safaris) to take care of the trip from Kampala to the Rwenzori Mountains. You’ll be transported to the mountains in a comfortable four-wheel-drive car with air conditioning this way. 

Conclusion

In the Rwenzori range, there’s so much to see as you make your way towards Mt Stanely. While trekking the Rwenzoris, it’s hard to believe that you’re in Africa when you are surrounded by ice and snow at 5,000 metres. 

It’s important to decide which route to choose that suits your interests, budget, time constraints, and fitness levels before embarking on this journey.

If you are looking for a complete Uganda travel experience, we also recommend checking out our guide to Kidepo Valley National ParkKibale National ParkLake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.