In the second century A.D., the greek geographer Cladius Ptolemy wrote of a great snow covered range of mountains near the equator in Africa. He gave the mountains the name Lunae Montes or Mountains of the Moon. His reports were disbelieved until the late nineteenth century when they were rediscovered by Henry Stanley, the man we know for uttering those famous words "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" when he found Dr. David Livingstone in the depths of Africa. Stanley just happened to be at the right place when the cloud cover that almost always obscured the mountains lifted, and he was treated to a dazzling view of these snow capped peaks. He had found the fabled Mountains of the Moon, although he referred to them by the name that the native Africans knew them by – Ruwenzori or ‘Rainmaker.’
The Ruwenzori Mountains lie just north of the equator and provide a natural barrier between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are 80 miles long and about 30 miles wide and reach a peak of 16,763 feet. They remained unknown to outsiders for so many years due to the fact that they are very rarely visible, but are enshrouded in clouds and mist most of the time, a situation that gave the mountains the name 'rainmaker'. The rain is continuous there, and the so-called dry season is only slightly less wet than the wet season. The mountains are rugged and heavily eroded, with many large beautiful lakes tucked in among the peaks.
One of the unique things about the Ruwenzori Mountains is the size of the vegetation there. A Lobelia, for example, that would grow to only one foot in most places, reaches a height of 20 feet in the Ruwenzoris. The rain forest that covers much of the mountain slopes are covered with thick vegetation, including moss covered heather trees which reach a height of 40 feet here.
Animal life is also abundant here. Many of the birds here are unique to the Ruwenzoris. The range also contains elephants, chimpanzees, bushbuck, leopards and colobus monkeys.
There was a movie called Mountains of the Moon released in 1990 that was based on the adventures of Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. These men, especially Burton, wanted to find the source of the White Nile river, and were convinced that the river arose in the fabled Mountains of the Moon. Using maps made over 15 centuries earlier by Ptolemy, the explorers penetrated deep into Africa, and eventually found what they considered to be the source of the Nile, a huge lake that they named Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is indeed, fed from waters running off from the Ruwenzori Mountains, so ultimately the explorers were proved at least partially right.
There is a thriving eco-tourism trade going on in the Ruwenzoris, but it is often stalled by the continuous civil wars that rage in the area, making travel unsafe at certain times.
Someone please node the words to the song by the Grateful Dead called Mountains of the Moon. It's got some great lyrics, but it doesn't really belong in this w/u