We must cash in from the Rwenzori

Sunday November 25 2018

MISSION COMPLISHED. A mountain climber

MISSION COMPLISHED. A mountain climber celebrates after climbing the Rwenzori. FILE PHOTO 

By Amos Wekesa

Last week Thursday night, I met up a group of mountain climbers who had just done the Rwenzori under the seven summits campaign.
They are climbing seven summits on the continent as a way of preparing for Himalayas next year, which is super.
I enjoy conversations because there is a lot to learn from people and listening to others can easily reinforce some believes deep in us.
Anyway, on the side, I had a conversation with Cuthbert Swai and he left me thinking.
Swai started out as a porter carrying stuff for Kilimanjaro climbers and along the way, he learnt how to cook and guide tourists climbing the mountain.

As he did it over and over, his skills improved including interaction with tourists and yes, one can tell that he never like me went far in school as we know it.
Well, schooling happens daily though many people believe learning only happens in class.
Swai today runs a company called Asante Safaris ltd in Tanzania handling more than 5,000 climbers a year. An average climber pays more than $5,000 (about Shs18m) each.

Swai, who is 50 years old, says, Rwenzoris are the first technical mountains he has climbed in life and was shocked about its beauty and the fact that the mountain has less climbers.
Rwenzoris saw a very sharp growth from an average of 900 climbers a year to 4,500 climbers and yes, it’s still a very small number but shows potential growth.
The Rwenzori Mountains previously called Ruwenzori ranges, is a mountain range of east equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the DRC.

These mountains support glaciers and contribute to the waters that form the Nile. The highest point of the Rwenzori is 5,109m and the highest point is on mountain Stanley and the length is 120kms or 75 miles.
The Rwenzori Mountain National park found in Uganda is a UNESCO world heritage site placed in the Rwenzori mountains rangers and has been identified by National Geographical as one of the top 15 hiking places in the world.

It is the only one on that list in Africa partly because of beauty, technical bit and the snow on the equator as a special part.
The Rwenzoris were gazetted in 1991 and was recognised as World Heritage site in 1994 and Ramsar site in 2008 and they aren’t volcanic such as Mountain Elgon and other major mountains in Africa.
It is a block mountain up faulted through the floor of the western rift valley.
They were christened the Mountains of the Moon by Alexandrine geographer Ptolemy in AD 150.

The Rwenzoris also mean the cloud king or rainmaker.
Swai alone in Tanzania handles a bigger number than one that goes to the Rwenzoris and he has made up his mind to market the Rwenzoris starting next year.
Swai also owns very good accommodations both in Moshi and Karatu between Ngorogoro crater and Lake Manyara in Tanzania and he is still expanding.
Swai reminds me of the many people and by the way, most very educated who believe they cant be anything.

I personally believe that the value of education is not to have papers to talk about but it’s meant to enhance critical thinking. Therefore, education should never be a hindrance at all.
Swai is also involved in cycling safaris which happen during the kili marathon and I am told he cycles everyday while in Moshi, practicing what he preaches.
Some of the groups of riders can go up-to 400 members at once, this is massive business.
I was humbled during this discussion but also enjoyed the fact that we have so much in common and are planning something big for Kasese starting 2020 God willing.

He also said, Kenya was a very big market for them until recent and gave me reasons Kenyans have stopped going to Tanzania.I think Uganda has the potential to fill the gap and I was told why.
His story takes me back to what I tell young people. Do not hurry for money but make sure you develop the skill, then create meaningful networks and money will come as third thing and influence will follow. Hurrying for money blinds people and if you don’t have a skill to back you, you won’t know what to do when money disappears....skilled people will always stay relevant in society.

The writer is an investment expert
— amos@greatlakessafaris.com