Uganda – Slopes of Mount Elgon
Date: 5-6 February 2018
Distance: 44 km
I spent the last couple of days walking from Budadari to Sipi Falls, on the slopes of Mount Elgon – an extinct volcano that sits on the border of Kenya and Uganda. As you do…
Getting there from Nairobi was a bit of an undertaking in itself – but three taxi rides, one 10 hour bus trip and one (actually very speedy) border crossing later and I was there… ‘there’ in this case being ‘Rose’s Last Chance’ – a guesthouse in tiny Budadiri, where the indomitable Rose arranged me a two day walk, with a guide (Lawrence), porter (Mike), tent, food etc in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
My guidebook described it as an ‘off the beaten track’ community walk, through villages and coffee plantations. Easy, thought I. Not quite: as it turns out there was a fair bit of ‘up’ to do on both days, and as it’s pretty hot here on the equator I quickly turned into a sweaty mess! The community bit is right though – unlike the sparsely populated countryside of Europe, the foothills of Mount Elgon veritably teem with people, many of them children (my lovely guide, Lawrence, told me that about 60 per cent of Uganda’s population are under 18). I couldn’t walk for more than two minutes without hearing small voices shouting out what I’m told was ‘Hello! White person!’ as I approached or passed by. At one point yesterday I had a band of about 15 children (many of them very young indeed) following me along the road for a mile or so. The adults were usually more reserved but everyone I saw was very friendly and welcoming, and, combined with the beautiful scenery, helped make it a walk to remember.
I spend the first night camping at pretty Sisiyi Falls, and after a hearty dinner (Rose believes in feeding you up – it’s impossible to eat everything she gives you) I fell asleep staring up at a perfectly clear, star filled sky that served to remind me of both the wonders of nature and the paltry version of the night sky that we have to contend with in light polluted cities like London.
This isn’t a walk for people who don’t usually hike, but if you do and you’re in the area (area in this case being anywhere between Kampala and Nairobi) it’s definitely worth taking the time to do it, and to experience this beautiful region. Rose (who is very well respected in her local community, and with good reason) will sort it all out for you in an effortless fashion.
Cost: 400,000 Ugandan Shillings (about £75) for guide, porter, camping equipment and campsite, food and transport back from Sipi Falls.
Contact: Rose – firstname.lastname@example.org