Guide to Mbale, Uganda
Quieter than the rest of the cities in Uganda, Mbale is a transportation and commercial hub for the country usually seen as a means of way to reach Sipi Falls or the Mount Elgon National Park. If we are being a little honest, there isn’t much to see around this city but if you are here you might come across some hidden gems to keep you busy.
Upon researching this city, here are the things that I found interesting.
Mount Elgon National Park
Yet another park in Uganda, but what’s different about this park is that it is not only home to a volcano which was once the highest mountain in Africa but it also comprises the Uganda-Kenya Border!
Mount Elgon was once the highest mountain in Africa but due to a huge amount of erosion, it now stands on the 4th rank in East Africa and 8th in the entire world.
Located on the Uganda-Kenya Border, Mount Elgon is also the oldest and largest solitary volcanic mountain in East Africa. The park has a large number of different animal species including Buffaloes, monkeys, antelopes, etc and accommodating more than 299 species of birds.
The best way to reach Mount Elgon National Park is by road which will take you approximately 3-4 hours and upon arriving at the park, you will find a number of activities that might suit your liking including climbing the mountain. With a not so harsh climate, mountaineering Mount Elgon becomes much easier and the flora and fauna surrounding it adds to the cause. From trekking to top & Day hikes to visiting the Sipi Falls and taking part in the cultural dances, there are lots of activities to keep you occupied on your trip to Mount Elgon National Park.
Climbing Mount Elgon
Mount Elgon is one of the most splendid spots being home to a massive crater which happens to be the largest crater of all of Africa’s highest peaks. If you plan on hiking the fourth highest mountain in Africa, plan a 3-4 days hiking trip to reach the top of the summit and plan 5-6 days trek if you want to add in a hanging out at the springs part to your itinerary. The overwhelming experience of sleeping under the stars in a tent at one of the highest peaks of Africa is what will make your trip truly worth it. Apart from the flora, you can spot a whole lot of different animal species.
A great and challenging hiking spot, Wanale Hills is a famous attraction of the country offering a spectacular view from the top of it. The hills are luscious green and one of its kind, demanding to be explored and be in its glorious presence.
Often mistaken to be Mount Elgon by visitors of the city, Wanale Hills is part of the famous Mount Elgon National Park and can be discerned from any corner of the city of Mbale, that lies right at the foothills of the Wanale Ridge.
As you journey, you will spot the famous Wanale waterfalls and the Namatsyo Waterfall cascading dramatically from atop.if you wander off to the trail on the western side of the ridge,
The hike to the top usually takes about 3-4 hours and you do not necessarily need a guide to show around but it’s highly recommended to have one to keep you interested with the overwhelmingly impressive facts and help you set up if you plan on having a camping night.
Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls plunging along the lower slopes of Mount Elgon located near the Kenyan Border in Mount Elgon National Park.
The area of the Sipi Falls is the starting point for many hikes leading up to Mount Elgon.
A pleasant and surreal spot near the city of Mbale, Sipi Falls offers a ground with beautiful trails that allow 20-30mins walks, depending on the trail you select. Moving further along the trail and approximately another 20mins walk will lead you to a cluster of caves located on a cliff above the waterfalls. While some caves have salt deposits and traces of woods, keep an eye out for Sipi Mise Cave or merely ask your guide (yes, you will have to take a guide along with you) to help you locate it and you will be in the presence of an important local shrine beautiful set inside a small forest cavern.
The rate to go for trails is around $7-$10 and a small amount of the guide fees is allocated to the landowners for visiting their lands.
‘Mezi ge lisusi’, loosely translating to – ‘the Smoky Waterfalls’ is how the local and ethnic Bagisu tribe describe this magnificent cascade of the waterfall. Sisiyi is yet another beautiful waterfall in Uganda, located in the Bulambuli district, a 34km drive away from Mbale. The waterfall magnanimously compliments Mount Elgon’s natural vegetation making a perfect postcard-worthy shot.
Usually, people tend to come across this waterfall while they are crossing the town and cannot resist the charming facade of the place. The Sisiyi Falls is accompanied by a cool & and fresh breeze making it a perfect place to relax and unwind. At the button of the falls, is a crater lake formed laced with granite rocks.
Beware of the rocks as they are slippery and make the way to the falls difficult.
You might not have this on your Itinerary, but if you have time on your hand try to make a visit at this splendid place away from the city bustle.
Bududa Bull Fighting
An infamous tradition that started in the year 1956 has now become a noteworthy tourist attraction happening every fortnight Saturday on the hills of Mount Elgon.
Far from the normal tourist attractions, this bullfighting event is derived from the history of men fighting to settle their disputes back in the days.
Now, the bulls engage in fights for the bull owners to settle disputes or for a way to win malwa or money.
Before the bulls come on the field to battle, they are taken for a bath in the nearby Manafa River and according to the local folklore, the water is said to be an antidote for stress.
It’s good to be a part of the tradition of Uganda and witness the intense fighting battle between the bulls.
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