It is often said a traveler who does not observe is like a bird without wings. Like the rest of us, a bird without wings, hardly ever experiences what birds with wings experience, that panoramic and picturesque view of Mother Nature
For you the Ugandan or the Visitor with cast about eyes, quite an eye candy feast awaits you, that is if you travel around Uganda often, especially to regions of the country which are virgin territory in terms of visits. One such place is Wanale Mountain in Bugisu.
It may be hypothetical to say but there is some degree of truth in the oft-held narrative that Ugandans are apathetic as regards things like tourism. The picture could not any clearer, looking at it from the Wanale perspective. Visitors and recreationists visiting Wanale have kept on dropping through the years.
That said however, Uganda, without a shadow of any doubt, still remains one of the best endowed nations, nature wise. When you pay a visit to Mountain Wanale, you will agree with me.
Perhaps the highest praise Uganda ever got was from Sir Winston Churchill, he bestowed on Uganda, the Laurel-Pearl of Africa.
To bear witness to what Churchill said, travel around the country often. You will stand a treat of the best nature has to offer in its majesty.
Churchill did not visit Mbale but if he had, he would definitely say something about the undisputed grandeur of Mountain Wanale. This is a place of such transcendent beauty. If your are into Mountain climbing or trekking, Wanale should be a great attraction. The ascent to its peak is an exhilarating experience.
Wanale or Nkokonjeru Mountain as some people call it, is an impressive mountain splendour, replete with precipices, escarpments, deep valleys, water streaked cliffs, caves, rocks and rugged crags.
Standing at a length of 7.67 kilometers, Wanale can be viewed from all areas in Mbale. It covers a huge portion of Bugisu’s land surface. Mbale town literally lies at its foot. From town, one can discern three splendid looking waterfalls. These all originate from the mountain top.
From the mountain top too, one will have an amazing panoramic view of mbale town.
“Wanale is Bugisu’s temple of nature. From the days of old, many visitors expressed instinctive awe at the sight of this mountain. The waters that flow from Wanale spread to every river in Uganda,” States 86 year old Muyesa Francis, an elder in Mukhuwa village
Named after one of the sons of Masaba, the patriarch/father of the Bagisu, Mountain Wanale is believed to be the place where Nabarwa, the Kalenjin woman who prevailed upon Masaba to get circumcised before they got married, came from, on her way from Kenya.
“The Nkokonjeru name that Semei Kakungulu’s people used to refer to that mountain came from the legend that Wanale, son of Masaba, reared only white chickens. Wanale lived on top of the mountain Friends from Bugisu called Wanale, Singokho or someone who likes chicken. The Baganda chose to name the mountain Nkokonjeru because of the many white chickens, Wanale reared. They assumed every inhabitant on the mountain reared white chicken,” narrates Mzee Moses Wakitonyi, an elder in Mutoto, Mbale
Wakitonyi says many of the mountain’s earliest inhabitants lived in caves. “There are many caves on the mountain, though people know only one. The early Bamasaba who called Wanale home dwelled in these caves. Wanale has 4 hills. Few people know about this too. A hike through a trail at the western end of the ridge will lead one to Khaukha cave, which is the most prominent cave of them all,” Wakitonyi says
Legend has it that Khaukha cave which is embossed with unique calligraphic inscriptions on its walls, has an ill fated water stream. Wakitonyi says the tale told of the stream is true. Many people thought it was an illusion until 4 men became lame when they crossed the stream. Nobody could explain how that happened. It was and is still a mystery,” Wakitonyi explains
The other wonders that Wanale offers are its many waterfalls. If you are a mountain recreationist, you will be spoilt for choice.
The beauty of Wanale’s waterfalls is unmatched.
Namatsyo waters falls for example, falls two miles down from the mountain top and submerges in rocky tunnels deep.
“The waterfall disappears down in the rocks under. It is completely obscured and immersed. The water reemerges and hits the surface from its underground pathway in villages like Bumboi and Mooni,” Wakitonyi states
HOW TO GET THERE
From the high court in Mbale, that is if you decide to walk, it is approximately 18 miles to reach Wanale.
To get to Wanale with a taxi or personal car, brace yourself for a 30-40 minute road ride.
Take a left turn road after the Mbale high court and follow the road that goes down to Busamaga Primary School.
On reaching the aforementioned Primary School, take a right turn, follow Bumboi road. Proceed along the main road.
From Busamaga Primary School, it will take one roughly 15-20 minutes to reach the peak of Wanale.
The other routes to the mountain top may be slightly risky, especially if one is making a maiden visit.
Enroute to Wanale, accommodation can be got at the nearby Elgon suites in Mango village.
It is on the highway as one heads to the Mountain top. Accommodation can also be got in senior quarters, Mbale.
If you love mountaineering or you are that person who just wants to have an aesthetic appreciation of nature, make it a point to visit this magnificent temple of nature.