Cultural Encounters in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Cultural encounters in Rwenzori Mountains national park are basically community cultural tours that involve tourists visiting local communities/ homesteads that are near a national park. Cultural encounters give visitors an opportunity to interact with the local people and learn more about their cultures.
Visitors are also able to watch traditional folk songs and dance performances from the local dance groups in the community. Other cultural performances also involve cooking classes where visitors are taught how to make traditional meals of a given community visited. Here is what cultural encounters in Rwenzori Mountains national park look like;
Ruboni Community Camp
Discover the peaceful farming village of Ruboni, home to around 2000 Bakonzo in the foothills of the Rwenzoris. Walk with the villagers as they demonstrate their daily activities from tending to their animals and crops to preparing meals with the freshest ingredients. Meet the blacksmith, traditional healer, basket weavers and storytellers, and enjoy a vibrant dance performance accompanied by lively drumming.
Alternatively, your guide will lead you along the rocky Mubuku River. Ruboni means “clear water” in the local Lukonzo language and you will follow this crystal clear stream, passing villagers carrying crops and wood. As the trail winds upwards, your guide will point out many colourful native birds such as the Rwenzori Turaco, tiny sunbirds and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters. There are also chameleons, squirrels and vervet monkeys.
Look out for Baker and Portal Peaks rising above the forests. On a clear day the snow-capped Margherita Peak is also visible and it is a truly spectacular sight.
Rwenzori Turaco View Camp Site
This tiny village of Mihunga faces the craggy, snow-capped peaks of Rwenzori Mountains. The Bakonzo tribe has lived here for over 300 years with no electricity or running water and this community has adapted its way of life to the climate and steep green hillsides of the Rwenzori foothills.
Mihunga’s community tourism group, Turaco view campsite, takes visitors on a cultural tour of the village. This includes a demonstration by a traditional healer whose herb based concoctions are believed to cure many ailments. There is also a trip to the village school, a crafts demonstration and a lively dance performance.
Visitors can also choose to walk with a local guide through the surrounding forests. They may be lucky enough to spot brightly colored turacos in the forest canopy. The expert guides will be able to point out other species such as bee-eaters, sunbirds and playful black and white colobus monkeys.
Bulemba-Ihandiro Cultural Trail
Follow this fascinating 6-7 hour trail through the holy valley and other sites of great cultural significance to the Bakonzo tribe. A community guide will introduce you to the traditional healer, explaining his powers known as ‘muhima’ and to the local blacksmith, who will reveal the spiritual significance of the traditional Bakonzo stool. Basket weaving and fire making skills are also demonstrated along the route.
The trail then takes you across the Kamusonge River whose waters are believed to be sweet and quick to quench the thirst. There is a break in a hut to enjoy the glorious mountain views and shelter from the equatorial sun, before embarking on the final hour long walk to the museum which is thatched in the traditional Konzo style. On display are implements used during the Rwenzururu struggle, traditional dress and the other items of historical and cultural importance to the people of the Rwenzoris.
Other Activities Offered in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Besides cultural encounters in Rwenzori Mountains national park, the park also offers visitors other activities like; Mountain climbing, guided nature walks, birding and wildlife viewing. Tourists visiting the park can always combine a cultural encounter with any of the above mentioned activities in the park.
Where to stay in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Accommodation facilities in Rwenzori Mountains national park include; Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite, Ruboni Community Camp, Hotel Margherita, Equator snow lodges, and Katara lodge among others.
How to get to Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Visitors interested in visiting the national park can travel to the park either by road or air. The park can be reached from Kampala within 5-6 hours by road. Alternatively, visitors can choose to fly in to Kasese airfield from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield.
Conclusion: When visiting Rwenzori Mountains national park, do make it a point to embark on a cultural tour to one of the local communities that live near the national park because you will have a chance to embark on a totally new experience during your safari.