As soon as you arrive in Mbale, you’ll notice Wanale ridge forming a grand backdrop to the entire town. When I was younger, I used to think Wanale was actually Mountain Elgon in its entirety only to discover that she’s simply one of the ridges, part of the vast and massive mountain range.
My original plan was to spend the four days of Easter with a group of people climbing this mysterious mountain up to the highest peak (Wagagai). That didn’t work out (I write about it here) and I ended up having a great time enjoying the festivities with family in Mbale. Once the holiday activities were over, I convinced my aunt and dad to a Wanale hike on Monday morning before we set off for Kampala. The hike was breathtaking and exhilarating all at once. Below are my top four reasons why I think you should give it a try.
1. The views are to die for
From the moment you start your ascent, the views are spectacular. The shades of green are endless. The ground boasts of fertile soil and the vegetation flourishes in response. Wanale gave me a whole new appreciation for those undiscovered and “non-advertised’ spectacular parts of Uganda and more specifically, Mbale. As I climbed, I was proud to hail from such beauty and to call it home. I was in awe, I’m sure you would be too.
2. You will spot at least five different waterfalls
The waterfalls (and how many there were!) was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. There’s something about waterfalls and how they welcome you. First you hear that crushing sound in the distance, then you feel the fresh, cool breeze calling out to you and then you see it, cascading so effortlessly and spattering magic on everything around it. It’s at the base of the waterfalls that you’ll find the most unique flora, all year round. The waterfalls made for great cool off spots as we hiked and we spotted at least five different ones with the major one tumbling from the Wanale summit and adding to a spectacular view.
3. You will be challenged by the locals
As you climb (it took us almost four hours to ascend and descend) you will feel very audacious and adventurous, until you by-pass the locals. Huffing and panting, we were like children as we watched a number of the locals (some children in fact!) trekking with ease, often barefoot, carrying loads of firewood, matooke and other foodstuffs on their heads and backs up and down the mountain. We had running shoes and sticks and they had none of that and yet were able to navigate the mountain, carrying piles of weight. This is their daily life. It makes you stop and appreciate how easy you have it (as well as how unfit you are).
4. You will bond with nature (and each other)
Any sort of travel is a great bonding experience, a great opportunity to learn more about your travel buddies and how we all respond to the unknown. Mountain climbing (or ridge climbing in this case) highlights this. It’s a test of patience and perseverance and a great opportunity to support and encourage each other – a true bonding experience. Spending that much time outdoors gives you a great up-close-and-personal appreciation of Mother Nature, of natural beauty and of God’s magnificent creation. It makes you realize what a small portion you occupy in this world, and how much magnificence there is all around us.
Have you ever trekked a mountain before? What stood out to you? How did you spend you Easter Holiday? Do share your thoughts in the comments below. Xx