«I just want to see that peak» I said during one night. Though I didn't mention the name of the peak I wanted to see it must undoubtedly have been the top of Mount Elgon. On my first trip to Mbale I saw the outcast hills and slopes of the Mount Elgon massive. And I immediately wanted to do some mountain walking up those slopes. Time didn't allow any such expeditions then. As I write these words my sunburned face have just recovered from four days in Mount Elgon Nationalpark.
One early morning in the dry season of Uganda I walked away from a delicious pancake breakfast and walked to the lawn where I could gaze at the mountains. The Landlady of the last lodging before the mountains came over to me and showed me the peak of Wagagai, shrouded in mist quite far away from the village of Budadiri.
On the first day of the mountain walk I first traveled to the last village with a road and from there the whole group of armed rangers, porters with pangas (big knives) and mountain walkers set out. It took several hours to walk upwards through villages and farmed areas where walking on steep mountain paths was the only way of transport. Further up we ventured into a very quiet forest where the only sound was the buzzing sound of some insects and the leaves of the trees moving in the wind. The only animal seen but not heard inside was a small chameleon. Lunch was eaten inside the forest near the Sasa river which provided fresh water. Sound of birds came and gradually increased as the treas grew smaller. Gradually the forest gave way to bush and grass vegetation which stretched upwards and into the horizon. Late in the evening I reached the closest to the top which most people use two days to reach.
After one nights sleep in a tent the walk for the highest peak of Mount Elgon started early in the morning on the second day. The landscape was dominated of a gently sloping moorland with gradually less vegetation as we climbed higher. From that walk it's not much to tell since it mainly consisted of putting one foot in front of the other from early morning and until lunch time. Before we reached the top I had a view into the caldera which is divided between Uganda and Kenya. Around midday the summit was reached and I could enjoy the view from Wagagai. After taking a few pictures, eating some snacks and drinking a little water it was time to slope down again. Returning to the camp was less tier-some, but took almost just as long time. Still the day was shorter than the previous one and it was time enough for cooking a supper and otherwise enjoying the evening.
Approximately 40 km of walking going much up and down was done during the third day. Both vegetation and terrain changed much from moorland with grass and small bushes in the morning to valleys and hills for hours around midday and then thick forest in the evening. After walking for hours in a thick and dark forest I had hoped to arrive at an open space before camping for the third night. In the evening I instead found myself sharing a huge cave with thousands of bats. The cave was at least dry and it was plenty of water because of the waterfall coming down at the middle of the cave opening.
After midday of the fourth day I again came out of the forest only to find that the sun felt unbearably hot. Some hours later I sat down and rested a bit. After all the walking I felt very tired. Though mostly I was happy after spending several days walking in beautiful nature ranging from farmed countryside, grass covered moorland to thick forest. Most of all I felt that my mountain trip now was ended though it still was several hours of walking left and then two or three hours of driving before I would reach Mbale where I would spend the night. Immediately after thinking that this trip was over I started to think about new mountain walks I would like to do.
Picture list: 1. Resting 2. Waterfall across cave opening 3. Path through the thick forest 4. Peak Picture 5. Moorland 6. Chameleon &. Wagagai as seen on the first morning