Mt. Rwenzori Tourism Infrastructure Development Project (MRTIDP)
Project life span: 01/7/2015-30/6/2023
Project cost (estimated for the complete lifetime of the project): 15.487 (Ushs Billion)
Relevance of the project with respect to the NDP and sectoral policy objectives: Contributes to the expansion of Tourism Infrastructure
Rwenzori Mountains, also known “Mountains of the Moon” is a unique tourist attraction in Africa and particular in Uganda with several peaks permanently snow-capped and lying on the equator. It is the largest mountain range in Africa (120km long /65Km wide) with an altitude range of 1600m to 5109m above Sea Level making it the highest Mountain in Uganda and third in Africa. It is in fact the tallest horst mountain, standing at 5109 meters above sea level (Magharita peak).
In 2011, The National Geographic Society identified Mount Rwenzori as one of the World’s 15 best hikes in the World. Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon) is a global biodiversity hotspot, providing key ecosystem services- carbon storage, forest resources and water supply.
The community around this eco system depends on it for livelihood through practicing subsistence agriculture and employment with various agencies or bodies that work to conserve or promote tourism to the mountain. The majority are employed as guides and cooks.
The key activities in RMNP are mountaineering. Currently there are three major trails namely; central circuit (50km-7-9days), Kilembe trail (40km) and recently Mahoma Trail (24 km). These are being operated by the local community, private concessionaire and Uganda Wildlife Authority, respectively.
WWF has worked with UWA to rehabilitate trails and bridges, created signage, provided camping equipment, and trained courses on customer care and mountaineering. WWF has also facilitated the construction of the visitor gate and staff accommodation at the park entrance of Mt Rwenzori National Park.
The Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities has also in the past supported the rehabilitation of bridges across river Mubuku, river Kyohoand river Mahoma, construction of concrete steps as one descends river Mubuku.
Inspite the beauty and uniqueness of the mountains, the number of visitors to this park has stagnated around 2,000.This is due to inadequacies in tourism infrastructure such as slippery trails, worn out bridges, inadequate accommodation facilities, lack of safety facilities, poor sanitary facilities, poor state of the road from the tarmac of Kasese- Fortportal road to the UWA gate (19km) and limited targeted marketing and promotion. Currently, many tour operators do not include this attraction on their itinerary due to the challenges mentioned above. Whereas the number of visitors to the park has increased from 435 in 2003 to 2,723 in 2013, the visitors to its comparable mountains of Kilimajaro have increased from 28,000 in 2003 to 52,000 in 2012. In short, Mt Rwenzori received only 5% of the visitors received by Mt Kilimajaro in 2013.
Indeed, the Tourism Assessment report 2011 by World Bank highlights the poor state of infrastructure to and at the tourism facilities as one of the principle constraints affecting the growth of tourism. According to NDP II, Uganda has a substantial infrastructure which severely impacts on its competitiveness.
The current state of infrastructure does not cater for the tourists who may want to experience the beauty of the park in one day. These could be tourists tapped after visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park (69,000 in 2013).
Combining the beauty of the park, the enormous wildlife species and improved the tourism infrastructure the number of visitors the park could rise to 10,143by 2020. With an average expenditure of 900dollars per person the park the park revenue will increase from USD 2 million in 2013 to USD10 million in 2020.
Therefore, there is need to broaden the product base and tourism experience by improving the existing trails and establishing shorter ones, improving the existing bridges taking into consideration of the flush floods, providing more ecofriendly accommodation facilities, improving safety of tourists by establishing rest points along the trails, establishing a cable car from the foot of the mountain to its peak, improving road infrastructure from Kasese-Fortportal road to the gate of the park (19km) and extending electricity to the park.
To Increase the number of visitors to the Park- by 150% by 2020
Improved trails on Mt Rwenzori;
Affordable climbing gear;
Increased number of accommodation facilities along the trail;
A Cable Car system from park gate to Nyabitaba;
Rescue and safety equipment; a rescue helicopter, helipads;
A reliable communication system; boosted communication network;
A monument at the Margareta Peak;
Achievement for the previous financial years to date
A 70m climbing ladder installed at Karyarupiha
A 200m board walk constructed at Bujuku,
A 100m board walk constructed at John Matte,
A board walk of 200m is under construction at Rubango
A pre-feasibility study for the Cable Car system was conducted that recommended its feasibility study from Mihunga gate to Portal peaks.
A board walk of 300m is under construction at Rukenga valley
2 stainless ropes (125m X 0.6mm) installed at Margherita peaks
5 resting points with toilets are under construction along the central circuit: at Scot Eliot, Nyamuleju, Kicucu, Omwihembe and Fresh field