The Mountains of the Moon (called the Rwenzori by the native people) literally inspired our expedition when planning began six months ago. Before friend and trip advisor Dr. Jessie Stone first mentioned the Rwenzori, I had little knowledge of the highest mountain range in Africa. With its rich precolonial history and position as the political boundary between Uganda and Congo (DRC), it is fitting that our last stop in the Nile watershed precedes our upcoming attempt to kayak 1000 miles through the upper Congo watershed.
These equatorial mountains have perplexed explorers and intrigued geographers for nearly 2000 years. When word of 'salt-capped' peaks in Central Africa reached Greece, geographers and philosophers alike pinned the so called Mountains of the Moon as the source of the Nile. Finally, in 1888, members HM Stanley's team were the first to confirm the existence of snow capped peaks just fractions of a degree from the equator. Of course it was Stanley's quest to settle the question of the Mountains of the Moon as the fountains of the Nile that ultimately led to his exploration of the Congo.
Although today scientists recognize that the Mountains of the Moon are not the main source of the Nile's water, they provide a unique source of clean water to the Nile system that in many regions is plagued by water-born illness. For that reason, along with their historical antiquity and one of a kind biodiversity, the Ruwenzoris are recognized by the UN as a World Heritage Site.
Since our last stop at Murchison Falls on the Nile, the searing heat and constant threat of wildlife has been replaced by subfreezing temperatures and the very real danger of altitude sickness.