All by himself in a hotel room in Tororo after a long day that had started in Mbale, Hassan Kisambira, aka, Sunny lay on his bed exploring his next move. He had been in Mbale to check on a relative where he got an order to deliver one of his Sunny Outdoors products, an outdoors gear, clothing, equipment and sporting goods store he runs online. The process pushed him to Tororo to get the job done. Once business was sorted, Kisambira climbed the Tororo rock and later toured the town before locating an affordable hotel.
“I lay in the hotel room thinking about my next destination. I settled for a hike to Moroto,” Kisambira recalls. At sunrise the next day, he called his brother in Kampala to send his camping gear to Mbale which meant he had to travel there to receive it. The initial plan was to start the hike from Mbale to Tororo but the former’s busy traffic halted it. “At first I wanted to start my trek from Mbale but given the busy road and traffic I thought it would be safer to start a bit far away. I picked my gear and headed to Sironko by road.”
In Sironko, Kisambira booked into a guest house to get enough rest after all the next day required every bit of his muscles to be in good shape. The first day of a hike is always the most challenging and tasking with the body adjusting. “I woke up early, energetic, in good spirits and looking forward to the change of landscape I was to experience on the journey,” says Kisambira. He got off the blocks fast towards the Sisiyi Falls where its breathtaking sight caught his attention.
He would then head towards the Muyembe junction from which he came across Sipi falls on Moroto road just after Sipi town. “I saw the Sipi Falls from an angle no one has shown before,” recalls Kisambira. His day one 35km walk was in between Mountain Elgon on the right and plain flat land on the left. It was also under harsh conditions for the entire eight hours.
“There was a cloud of dust from trucks on the route because of the mining that was going on. It was also extremely hot,” he says. The sight of a young man on foot carrying bags and walking in the middle of the road caught the attention of people he walked past. The heat had its toll, forcing him to improvise.
“I stopped and swam in the river at Cheptui to cool my body,” he says.
The sunflower farms by the roadside were a marvel and it even got better with massive housing estates where the Bududa landslide victims were resettled. He also heard Lumasaba, kupsabiny, Luganda, Lusoga and Swahili as he walked through Bulambuli district for most of day one. It was so quiet and lonely with a few boda bodas riding past him occasionally.
“I could hear my boots pounding the ground,” There were occasional police checkpoints in between small towns to curb cattle theft as suggested by policemen at the checkpoints. The walk that had started in the green Sironko stretched to dry Tabakonyi in the evening with 35kms of unfriendly terrain covered.
The second day had Kisambira get up with sore feet and shoulders.
“I did not know if I would continue,” he recalls. Even after a long sleep, he was fatigued but when he resumed the walk, Kisambira got his groove back.
“A few minutes into the walk and I was as good as if I had just started the expedition,” he says. Ngenge was the next town he go to with Kapchorwa Town visible from a distance. Then came Kween District with plenty of cattle and a silhouette from Chepsukunya Town of Mount Kadam before getting to Pian Upe Wildlife reserve for the night. A new friend Maxo offered his yard to camp in.
This was the best part of Kisambira’s journey as the night walk presented another spectacle. The National Game Reserve walk felt like being in a safari movie.
“The night walk to Nakapiripirit under the stars under the night shadow of Mount Kadam was magnificent,” he described. He then did the last part of the park to Namalu.
It was a night walk from Namalu to Nakapiripirit which had 114km of the 197km journey covered. On this day, Kisambira did not do any walking. He rested.
After a worthy rest on the fourth day of the hike in Nakapiripiriti. Kisambira embarked on the final bend of the walk that lasted nine hours and 40kms. Early on into the walk, the remoteness and loneliness of the area forced him to hitch a lift on a random truck for the majority of the journey.
“I covered the rest of the distance in a pickup truck driven by Lamek and Diaz who gave me a lift to Moroto,” he says. There was no town or people to be seen for kilometres and hours, only passing cars. According to the conversation he had with passersby, the place had no dependable security thus making it risky. The exhaustion had also kicked in by then.
Summary of Kisambira’s trip
• Day one- Sironko to Tabakonyi
• Day two- Tabakonyi to Pian upe
• Day three- Pian upe to Nakapiripirit
• Day four- Nakapiripirit (rest day)
•Day five- Nakapiripirit to Moroto