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Reisverslag Hill Walk and Mahoma Trail – 20 March 2016
4 april 2016
Hill Walk and Mahoma Trail – 20 March 2016
As I have mentioned earlier, my internship allows me to take all walks offered. As one of the walks offered by Ruboni Community Campsite is the Hill Walk with a possibility of overnight camping. The best period of a possibility of seeing the snow peaks of the Rwenzori’s is to go during the dry season. As March is an overlapping period between dry/rainy season, it is relatively smart to go now (in the low season) instead of in June or July (in the high season). As I made the plan to do another walk called the Mahoma Trail on the 17th of March and leave approximately a week later to The Elephant Center Campsite I took the Hill Walk on Sunday the 13th of March. The beginning of the hike was steep while the middle was close to comfortable walking, especially since the pathway was rather uncomfortable to walk as you could not always put your feet next to each other. The end of the hike was again a bit steep and it became rather hard to see as it became twilight and close after dark. I was lucky that I had my flashlight with me which provided a close visibility option.
On top of the hill I spotted the campfire and tents. Here we (my guide Elly, two porters and I) had dinner and a chat before sleeping. The next morning, I woke up early and saw the sunrise above the small towns/mountains which was really beautiful. After breakfast, taking pictures and enjoying the view, my guide and I descended of the mountain. After descending we went flat, went over the bridge and walked uphill to the camp. The ascent of the Hill Walk took approximately 6 hours while the descent of the Hill Walk took approximately 3.5 hours.
On Tuesday, my muscles were pretty sore from the hike uphill. As I knew that two days later I would walk the Mahoma Trail, I hoped this would be resolved in a few hours. Eventually, it took almost 2 days.
The Mahoma Trail is a 3-day trekking/hiking trip within the National Park. As agreed upon arrival I would only pay the park fees of this trip as long as I join a group (with at least 2 people) going to take this trip, the other expenses would be covered through the profit made, such as the use of one or two porters, a guide, food etc. Usually this trip is around 450 US dollars. The park entrance fee is 170 US Dollars (for 3 days), it is especially a lot since you pay an entrance fee, activity fee and a camping fee all considered per day or night.
As I would walk the trip on the Thursday , the 17th of March, I went to the UWA office a day before. The UWA (Uganda Wildlife Association) is an organization who develops and sustains the park and protects its wildlife for both pleasure trips as well as research. At the office I looked for the tourist and senior warden. I only met the secretary of this warden. She gave me the phone number of the warden who I called later during the day to explain my time here as a volunteer to increase the tourist numbers of the Rwenzori’s and that I would have to make some marketing pictures through taking this trip and would hope to find a reduction of the park fees. This had not been resolved on the day of departure.
On Thursday the 18th, we had an orientation of the first day around 10 o’clock in the morning. Here we met our guides Elly (who I walked the village, forest and hill walk with), Lazurus and Jacob. Enock would be the fourth guide as well as the chef. We had 15 porters carrying all our belonging such as clothing, tents and food. Elly explained that today we would hike from 1700 meters above sea level to 2650 meters above sea level. We had possibility of seeing chameleons, squirrels and colourful birds and possibility the Rwenzori bat – only found in this area of the world. We started the hike around half past 10 and reached the National Park gate around 11 o’clock. Here we all made the final payment regarding the entrance fee of the National Park. Here I explained the issue regarding the warden and they honoured my request by allowing me to pay the full price and try to get in touch with the warden regarding this issue and refund money in case my request would be accepted. This is the reason they had not given me a receipt – as a receipt means that you cannot get any money back. Regarding payment of the national park they make a division between Foreign non-resident, Foreign resident, East-African resident and local resident. The biggest difference between payment can be found between Foreign non-resident and Foreign resident. This almost differs 100 US dollars.
After payment we continued the walk around 11.30. Two of the national park rangers joined us for the walk. They carried guns in case animals would attack. First of all, they would fire a warning shot but could kill the animal in case it becomes a danger to the visitors. The first few hours was a steep walk up and in the second to third hours I fell behind the group due to make a lot of pictures, walking slower and basically walking on my own speed. In the last half an hour of my walk it started to rain heavily which made the guide Elly (who walked with me) and I very wet and it took a while to get warmed up by the campfire after arrival at campsite 1.
The second day, we walked uphill and then descended for a while to walk uphill again to reach Mahoma lake. This trip would elevate us from 2650 meters above sea level to 3000 meters above sea level. Here I also fell behind and walked with Elly. Even though, I felt behind I saw a blue monkey and the Rwenzori bat as well as many colourful birds. This walk was very beautiful, we even walked along an elephant trail for a while. As we reached campsite 2, I saw a beautiful lake surrounded by the mountains. It was a beautiful side.
The third day, we would walk downhill from 3000 meters above sea level all the way to 1700 meters above sea level. Funny enough, I was the first to reach the bottom, as the other visitors struggled to come down the mountain. During the third day we were lucky enough to see a group of blue monkey, the Rwenzori bat as well as some squirrels and in the distance we could see a snow leopard. The snow leopard was only seen through binoculars but it was still cool to have a chance of seeing one in the wild. Also, I have seen the third species of the Chameleon who lives in the Rwenzori area; the Rhinoceros chameleon – it basically has a big fat nose which could be seen as one-horn.
As I reached the gate, one of the rangers came to me and refunded me some of my money as I had been given a reduction of Foreign non-resident to Foreign resident by the senior warden of the UWA. Also, I bought a T-shirt of the Rwenzori Mountains as an extra reminder of this wonderful trip and also there are not a lot of souvenir regarding the Rwenzori area and most of my internship will be in the Rwenzori’s.
In comparison, the Hill Walk was much steeper and tougher to walk while the Mahoma Trail was zigzagging much more. Both have their own beauty and both were worthwile to experience. The Hill Walk would be approximately 10 km. While according to the UWA the Mahoma Trail is approximately 28km, funny enough the rangers even said that the first day was a walk of 12km’s, the second day was around 10km’s and the third day was close to 15km’s. As I count that, it is much more than 28km’s. From the park gate to the campsite it is another 1.5km. In total the Mahoma Trail is around 40km’s. In less than a week I walked based on these two walks 50km’s which means in this week I would have most likely walked around 70km’s.
I would advise you to take a walk and enjoy an hour of nature. Even though at home it might be colder than it is here, the chances of seeing something or getting refreshed are already wonderful. It clears the mind and makes you refocus.
Foto's bij verslag (1)
5 april 2016 08:10 | Door: Corien
Such a wonderfull trip! Thank you for sharing,
Warm regards, Corien
6 april 2016 10:21 | Door: Renata
Keep zigzagging and have fun! Liefs Renata