I was excited about the trip, simply because I’d never been to Karamoja before. Also because I expected this particular hike though Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve to be less challenging than the last trip I did with Mountain Slayers Uganda. I hadn’t seen many Pian Upe pictures before the trip and so I wasn’t too sure what to expect (I usually prefer it that way). I thought it would be beautiful, as some had mentioned that it would be, I didn’t however expect it to be thoroughly fascinating.
Setting off and getting started
We set off from Kampala by road on Friday afternoon and passed through Mbale (my home town. Whoop whoop!). Along the way, we made a couple of stops for various reasons – convenience breaks, lunch and dinner. Finally, we arrived at our campsite in Pian Upe in the wee hours of the morning and needless to say, we were up early the next morning to begin our hike.
Pian Upe offered a rather interesting terrain. After a long stretch of murram road, we trekked through golden savannah, over rocks and through a cave. The stretches were long and even mundane at some point. However, the moment we climbed one of the rocks and looked back, it was amazing to see the splendor that surrounded – rich golden vegetation dotted with lush green trees against blue mountain backdrops. The rocks also made for great resting spots as the cool breeze, coupled with the view, was very relaxing.
A missing sole
The end of the stretch was probably the most demanding. Not only because we were exhausted at this point – it was nearing evening and refreshments and snacks were running low, but because the grass was so long and the ground was uneven (it’s funny how from the top of the rocks the grass looks neatly clipped but in actuality, it was taller than us).
Unfortunately for me, somewhere during one of the rock climbs, I noticed the sole on my left hiking boot was giving way. I soldiered through with absolutely no Plan B until the sole eventually did give way. Fortunately though, one of my hiking buddies, Pete, had an extra shoe in his back pack (thank God for hiking buddies that carry seemingly random stuff like extra shoes). What was even more fascinating was the fact that Pete carried just ONE shoe and it happened to be for the foot that I needed! Yes, it was over-sized but we made it work. Looking back, I’d probably never make it through an ordinary day in Pete’s shoe. However, when you’re stuck in in the middle of nowhere, trekking through grass that’s taller than you and with no end destination in sight, everything is a miracle and everything is appreciated. Thank you Pete.
Did I mention that it rained? Thank God we carried raincoats too. We got soaked in the rain, continued hiking and at some point begun singing loudly, I guess to distract us from fatigue and discomfort. It worked. The last part of the Pian Upe hike felt like a Disney adventure in a foreign land. We laughed and sang and walked and stopped and walked some more. Eventually, when it started raining for the second time around, a truck appeared from nowhere to pick us up.
Camp at last
We reluctantly hitched a ride and were back at camp in no time. We made it just in time to freshen up and watch the Karamojong entertainers that made their way to our campsite to sing, dance as well as act out a play for us, despite the drizzle. Some of us joined in, some of us preferred to rest and watch. Either way, every one of us had a great time and a day well spent.
PS: Have you been to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve before? What was your experience like? Would you visit? Do drop a comment below.
PPS: The tank top I’m wearing in these pictures is available for purchase from the Khukyenda Shop. Click here.