By Thomas White, May 2015
Making the most of the 1st May public holiday a group of us from the Mountain Club of Uganda headed to the North-East of Uganda to hike Mt Napak. 4 cars driving in convoy through the Karamoja plains, this was made better by the fact that we had bought a random CD whilst refueling in Soroti. As we drove through the majestic landscape with mountains rising up in front of us some of the best music ever heard was played to us. With classics such as; Slipper when wet, My body is your party, Me Want Soul food you want burger.
We arrived at the base of the mountain a little after sunset due to a flat tire and a couple of cars stuck in the mud. We set up camp in a school by the base of the mountain, and soon enough every child from the nearby village had joined us as we cooked some food and enjoyed a fire.
We set off the next morning with our guide and porter, Peter and Peter. The day was already proving to be a beautiful day, lucky for the rainy season in Karamoja. We hiked for an hour through the local community passing by people working in their fields as we approached the mountain with its impressive cliffs looming over us. As we started ascending the path joined forces with a river coming down from the mountain. We moved up the ‘wet ladder’ as it became known and worked our way on top of the foothills where we got our first glimpses of the views out over Karamoja.
We battled the extreme heat of the day as we climbed out over the first set of cliffs. Beautiful scenes of the plains out to one side and the view of the steep cliffs rising above us from the other showing the hike was far from over and would only get steeper from here.
Three hours later after some steep hiking and the occasional scramble we reached the top of the ridge just as it started to rain. We moved towards the peak and found a cave to shelter under. In this cave, we found two hunters who had caught themselves a couple of mountain deer. We sat with them as we waited the storm out. Our guide and porter, Peter and Peter who had now been dubbed ‘P Squared’ purchased the hind section of one of the deer for a tasty dinner.
A beautiful spot at the edge of the cliff face was chosen as the camping spot, as we arrived storms far out in the distance could be seen slowly making their way across the landscape with Mt Moroto in the distance.
We settled in and made a campfire for our veggie pannier and steak kebabs and huddled near to the fire as the cold and dark closed in. Armed with wine and whiskey, we enjoyed our perch overlooking the vast beyond of Karamoja as the bright moon played peek-a-boo with us from behind the clouds.
The group was up early the next morning to watch the sunrise. After a quick breakfast and water check, we set off down the mountain using vines as ropes to lower people down the steeper scramble sections. We moved quickly down the mountain back to the school ready for a long drive back, ‘The Soroti Playlist’ blasting the whole way back to Kampala.