Thursday, 24 January 2013

Mt Elgon and The Source of Nile (Uganda)

Flying into Entebbe over the shores of Lake Victoria and seeing the lush tropical vegetation below, It finally began to feel my Ugandan adventure was about to begin, whizzing through customs which is something I’m not accustomed to with Africa was a blessing.

My first port of call was to be the thriving East African capital of Kampala, getting to Kampala on a Dala Dala or commonly known as crammed minibus with slick tyres, cracked windscreen and holes in the floor was the perfect way to start any adventure in Africa, for all of 1$ my nerve shattering journey took me from Entebbe to the hustle and bustle of Kampala, arriving in Kampala and find my accommodation was in fact a very simple task, simply get out of the fun bus and jump on the a back of a doba doba which is a motor bike taxi, with a 70ltr pack on my back while sat on the back of a motor bike whizzing through the chaotic Kampala traffic made the minibus journey feel like orient express, It was a huge buzz even if it was a little suicidal, I finally arrived at the Shalom Guest House which is run by Fields Of Live, a charity that does a huge amount of great work in Uganda building Schools and putting wells in the rural areas of Uganda.

The reason for this trip was in fact to do some research for a charity climb up Mt Elgon on the Eastern Borders of Uganda, all the money raised from the trek will go to support The Fields of Life continue their work in Uganda.
After a few meetings Kampala it was time to head to Mbale and begin the trek, leaving Kampala and finding the correct bus in what is described as the largest taxi & bus station if you can call it that in East Africa was a mission, then good old African timing after sitting on the bus for 2hrs we finally left for Mbale, the inflight entertainment came from a man claiming to be a doctor selling all sorts of wonderful potions that could just about heal anything.
Finally arriving in Mbale which is the largest town in Eastern Uganda I found myself a humble place to sleep then headed out to explore, which ended up with me sitting in front a huge outdoor TV screen watching WWF wrestling with a cold Nile Special Beer, only to discover after about 4 beers it was 5.9% so of course it was a short wobble home after a quick stop off for some good old street food, why does street food smell , taste and seem like a good idea after a few cheeky beers.

I was woken early morning to the sound of Mbale town going about it’s daily business and buses blowing their musical air horns right outside my window, it was going to be another great day in Uganda, looking out my hotel window I was rewarded with clear blue skies and Mt Elgon in the distance, Eric had arrived from Moshi in Tanzania to join me on the trek, both Eric and I have climbed Kilimanjaro over 8 times together, he’d left Moshi 2 days earlier but in true African style his bus broke down in the night somewhere in Kenya, It was good to hear that we both had epic journeys getting Mbale and compared notes.
Leaving Mbale behind we made our way to Budabiri the start of of trail, arriving the remote town of Budabiri we shopped for food supplies with what was available in the village, had a quick beer  in  local. Our accommodation for the night was Rosie’s, If you ever come to climb Mt Elgon I would highly recommend you stop here, Mama Rosie is like your Ugandan mum you never through you had, Rosie is such a lovely lady and so hospitable, we were well feed and watered for the following day.

We began our trek on the SASA Route skipping day one and climbing straight up to an altitude of 3500mt, passing through small villages on route before entering the park, we trekked through lush rain forest, bamboo forest until reaching high altitude alpine plants, our was in Mudde C amp.
The following morning we made a quick ascent to Wagagai peaks at 4321mt, the climb was relevantly easy its long a long climb in terms of distance.

The following we decided to skip a day and trek 2 days in one covering 30km and boy was a killer of a day, the morning was fairly easy going with great views, Mt Elgon feels more like a mountain range than a single extinct volcano. The afternoon was a completely different matter with plenty of steep climbs followed by steep decents, with a 15kg bag on your back it was tough going, plus the average temperature was 35c.

Our final day was a short 15km into the town of Sipi with its three huge waterfalls each over 70mts in height. saying good bye to our Rangers who were amazing guides on the mountain incredibly helpful and now very good friends and part the the Adventurous Ewe family who will be joining us in June when we climb Mt Elgon once again, overall Mt Elgon is beauty of a trek, very little people visit mountain, passing through villages and stunning trekking through a vast mixture of landscapes, I would say its been one of my most memorable trips in a long time.

Eric went back to Moshi in Tanzania and I and still currently in Jinja and the Source of the Nile, which is East Africa's Adrenaline Centre.
So watch this space as were going to be lauching an amazing trip with plenty of Adventure in an absolutle gem of an African country Uganda.

I now head off to Kampala which is going to be a huge change from the peaceful days on Mt Elgon and the Nile.