A few ‘moonies’ decided to take in more of Uganda than was originally planned, and explore the eastern border with Kenya through climbing Mount Elgon. After our arrival we were treated to a traditional local meal, deep fried Tilapia, which was, in my estimation, superb. We had some fun and games en route to Mount Elgon, since Stephen’s luggage had not all arrived with us at Entebbe airport, and Chris took some detours to help Steve spend SAA’s US$100 ‘apology’ to him on some clothes that would keep him comfortable on the mountain. Mount Elgon is an ‘extinct’ volcano, whose foothills are very densely populated with subsistence farming, mostly varieties of bananas. It is a treat to see well attended schools and ‘shabeens’ en route to the first major ridge. People are friendly and welcoming, and somewhat amused by the light skinned hikers and their party of porters.
The first camp is at the edge of the bamboo forest, where we pitched tents. The next day we walked through the forest, catching in new birds and anecdotes from the guide on the plant life, and entered the moorland, arriving at the second camp early. The afternoon was spent enjoying Tony’s pleasant tunes and generally ‘chilling’ out. The following morning we were woken at an ungodly hour, while it was dark, in order to start our steady ascent of Wagagai peak. It was misty and cold, in fact very cold by the time we reached the summit. We stopped just long enough to snap the evidence and turned back. A latecomer to our group, Karen, showed us all how to really climb mountains. She convinced the ranger and Chris, our guide, to let her climb Jacksons summit, a small rocky summit at the edge of the crater, en route back to high camp. In fact, due in part to our tardiness in walking back, and mostly their amazing speed and strength, Karen and the ranger arrived only about half an hour after us at camp, having summitted a peak on the way!
We had a good rest, another superb meal for lunch and started en route back to the first camp for the night. We all turned in early, having had a rather long, tiring day. Our tour guide, Chris Muriithi (to distinguish him from one of the moonies, Christopher Marland), even treated us to some African rhythms played on Tony’s ‘guit’. Our return to “Rosies’ the next day was greeted with another of her great meals, very welcome after a long, fast trek down the mountain. We were getting used to a different style of cooking and tucking in happily to chapatti, something between a pancake and a wrap, into which spicy vegetables, beef, chicken and other yummy food is wrapped.
We enjoyed our taxi trip home, taking in a view of the Nelson Mandela national stadium on the outskirts of Kampala. On arrival back at downtown Kampala’s Havana Hotel, we were pleased to find that all 7 of our fellow moonies had arrived and after cleaning up, hanging out the washing (including tents!) we joined the rest of the moonies for drinks and a social supper.
Departure Johannesburg International, arrival Entebbe (Uganda) and transfer to Kampala and overnight.
Drive to Budadiri with lunch stop at Mbale Camp.
Walk to Sasa river camp (4-6 hours).
Hike to Mudeyi camp (3hrs)
Summit Wagagai, highest peak on Elgon at 4321m (4 hours).
Descend to Mude camp for breakfast, thereafter continue descending to reach Sasa river camp in the afternoon.
Walk off mountain to our waiting transport to transfer to Kampala, arriving latest 5 pm to join rest of group for Rwenzori trip