Sunday is a good day as any to go rock climbing. Even with the threat of rain, we managed to find our way, first for brunch in Jinja, then on to the clear highway further east to Kamuli.
Following directions once we approached Bugabula wasn’t too difficult and the drive took us about 3- 4 hours, having set off at 9am. The rocks are located in the eastern region, in Bugabula sub-county, Buyende district and are believed to be the first migration and settlement centre in the Busoga region.
Kagulu Hill also known as Kagulu Rock is not popularly known to many travelers however, was the first settlement area for the Banyoro of Basoga, through leadership of Mukama. Kagulu Hill, rises more than 3000 feet above sea level, located approximately 106 kilometers north of Jinja. The rocky prominence is a cool place to visit on your way to Mbale town. The rock, which is between two roads that divide at its foot, leading to Gwaya and Iyingo has a clear view of almost all Busoga.
Before we proceed to climb the rock, we are asked to take some coffee seeds and cast a few forwards and backward. Our guide explains that this is an important ritual that will guide us for safety as we go ascend and descend.
You need to be moderately fit to climb the rock and wear comfortable shoes. The sun was now beaming, making it hotter than a few minutes earlier. We were thankful for clear weather, but now sweaty as we took steps higher and higher up.
Our guide illustrated how best to climb, directing us when to ascend and walk on the sides. I learnt that to climb this rock, one needs to be strategic; not simply climb towards the top in a straight line.
I appreciated that we could take breaks to catch our breath whilst telling us stories of some prominent men that had tried to hurriedly climb the rock but failed. The steps along the way made it much easier for us to reach the top.
Once at the top, we enjoyed a panoramic view from the rocky hill, with views of the Victoria Nile where it enters Lake Kyoga. We walked around to view the rocks from different angles.
There is also a waterfall, where water springs from the rocks and cascades down the hill. Climbing enthusiasts find pleasure in going up and down the hill in record time. It is also possible to explore the caves at the bottom of the hill. We got the impression though that there were some other traditional practices we might have to carry out.
This trip left us with some unanswered questions;
- If Kagulu Rock has for a long time been a major adventure and tourist attraction in Eastern Uganda, why is it hardly known?
- Could this have to do with the fact that there are few itineraries that include this in their trips. Has the management of this place been neglected?
- It felt deserted. However, the community has managed to create a committee that has plans to structure their tours better. When will all this be ready?
- How are most people at the moment finding out about this place?
- It was also difficult to get more information before we set off. Our guide was Abdu +256780810097 Are there other guides or contact offices?
- I definitely see a lot of untapped potential here that the people in this are together with the Uganda Tourism Board should explore.
- This is surely a day’s trip that more Ugandans can explore, either on a weekend or day off. Even better if more activities were brought set up here…
- Why do you need to hike up Kagulu hill/rock? It’s easy! Getting up wasn’t too difficult for even the un-fit guy…Perhaps if more visitors were to explore the area, we could appreciate it’s beauty 🙂
Have you been to the Kagulu hill/rock before? What was the experience like? Would you consider doing this seeing as it’s a day’s event? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂