Our next destination on the “Eastern Uganda Discovery tour” was Mt Elgon which hosts the various Sipi falls on its mountain slopes which fall outside the protected area in the communities. We arrived in the evening after abseiling and enjoying touring the different Sipi falls. The road to the centre off the Mbale – Kapchorwa road is the most dusty road I have ever seen, it seemed like someone had carried lorries of dust and poured it on the road. However in Uganda we would rather have dusty off roads than muddy roads which can lead to being stuck in an area for hours and being surrounded by community people asking for money before they can help push/pull or dig your car out of the mud.
The exploration centre is located in one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Tucked in the middle of a natural forest on the slopes of Mt Elgon offering the much needed rest and fresh air. The base camp is a great birding area, we spent about an hour on arrival before checking in, watching various birds around. The centre has both dormitories and cottages, we chose the cottages but some people camped because the cottages had been booked by other visitors. See, we did not book accommodations prior our trip because of how the plans kept changing in terms of the number of people and the actual routing and places to visit.
After settling in, we ordered dinner and settled in briefly and later went to the restaurant for dinner. February is usually the dry season in most of Uganda so the assumption is that it would be quite hot but alas the coldness in this forest I was not prepared for. We enjoyed a good meal of local chicken stew with all foods Ugandan over good conversations and constant supply of hot cup of tea for me and coffee for others. Eventually it was time for me to retire after a long day of hiking, abseiling and birding.
The night was so cold that even with socks on and towels added on the blanket I still struggled. In the morning I asked my roommate if she struggled the same and she responded in the affirmative. We later learned that we had forgotten to close the window in the bathroom, no wonder it was so cold. You see there is no way you could tell that it was open because of the pitch darkness outside so one could not see and tell whether you are seeing a dark wall or it is the outside.
The team continued to bird this morning but I let it pass. I instead spent time reading since I could not work because of no network coverage for the phone and consequently internet. To access network one had to drive out to a certain area in the community. Eventually the people arrived back from birding, we had our lunch after which we left to meet with Sipi tour guides to talk about training possibilities and later we continued to Pian-upe game reserve – a place I looked forward to visiting.