“I have climbed many mountains, been to Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro, but none compares to what confronts you when you climb the Mt. Rwenzori Mountains.”
Those are the words of RavichandranTharumalingam who has just returned from the Rwenzori Mountains after an eight day hike that took him to the summit, Margherita at 5109m. Ravi, as he is popularly known, was addressing the media in Kampala.
“When they told me about the Rwenzoris, I didn’t know much. Our focus has been on these two mountains and every year we find it easy to summit Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro the better known ones.” He says it took him 8 days to discover that Mt Rwenzori is certainly the best mountain experience in Africa.
He added that no other mountain could offer what he experienced. “There is so much to offer. I only did one and I will return to do the others.” Adding that this climb brought up the memories of the Himalayas with all the technical difficulties, the glaciers, the attention to detail every climber must have.
The Rwenzoris have some of Africa’s highest peaks. Mount Stanley (5,109 metres (16,762 ft)), Mount Speke (4,890 metres (16,040 ft)), Mount Baker (4,843 metres (15,889 ft)), Mount Emin (4,798 metres (15,741 ft)), Mount Gessi (4,715 metres (15,469 ft)) and Mount Luigi di Savoia (4,627 metres (15,180 ft)). Mount Stanley has several subsidiary summits, with Margherita Peak being the highest point.
Ravi has promised to come back and ensure that more professional climbers to include the Rwenzori mountains. He has offered to train four guides as professional mountaineers who he will them take to Mt. Everest in a year or two.
“You need to have your own ambassadors. To survive Ugandans need to take up mountaineering as locals who then sell it to the rest of the world.”
Ravi’s nod for the Rwenzoris is no mean approval. The Malaysian climber is one few humans who have climbed the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest. That group gets smaller considering that Ravi went as a solo climber to conquer Mount Everest and is listed in the Malaysia Book of Records for his feat in climbing the 8,843.43m mountain on May 15, 2006.
“This promotion by prominent climbers like Ravi is timely and in sync with the work we are doing at UTB,” says Stephen Asiimwe, the Uganda Tourism Board’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have just completed a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote the whole Rwenzori region as prime mountaineering and cultural tourism destination.”
Tourism has emerged as Uganda’s top export bringing in over UGX1.3billion, employing over 450,000 and a major contributor to GDP at 10%. The country’s international profile is also growing and more favorable for travelers around the world.
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Ravichandran Tharumalingam is Malaysia’s First solo climber to conquer Mount Everest and is listed in the Malaysia Book of Records for his feat in climbing the 8,843.43m mountain on May 15, 2006. His climb was a solo expedition via the North Face Route, Tibet and reaching the South Col during his second Mount Everest Solo Expedition in 2007 via the South Face Route.
In 2010, after overcoming “Frostbite and losing 8 fingers” he began his quest for the “Grand Slam of Mountaineering“, planning to summit all “14th Eight Thousander” (8000 meter) mountains in the world and the “Seven Summits”, all the highest peaks in seven continents without “Oxygen Support”. In Year 2011, he added “The Poles – The Last Degree” in his quest and begin his “True Explorers Grand Slam”.
The inspiring adventurer, Mr. Ravichandran is set to hike Mt. Rwenzori to the snowy Margherita Peak from 19th to 27th January, 2018.
Mr. RavichandranTharumalingam website is www.ravieverest.com