In 2008 I embarked on an incredible journey and built a lodge in Eastern Uganda on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. I did this with my good friends Ian and Calum and after a lot of hard work and many incredible stories along the way in December 2008 we opened Sipi River Lodge to the world!
With all three of us coming from outdoor adventure backgrounds we soon decided to offer trips up Mt. Elgon for our clients. Mostly we saw this as a way to get more people through the doors at the lodge . Ultimately, many years later we decided to cease running trips through Sipi River Lodge, however for many years we were the largest tour operator bringing clients to Elgon and it allowed us to develop great relationships with many of the UWA staff and guides.
Over the years I became more and more involved in Mountain Biking – ultimately leading me to start Clark Expeditions in 2018. I’ve pioneered MTB trips on Elgon, training UWA guides to ride, testing a variety or routes and time constraints, trialing gear, and writing safety protocols and risk assessments in order to do it as safely as possible. I’ve guided some great riders from around the world and taken friends on some incredible adventures. I’ve been to the top about 12 times. I’ve ridden the Piswa route 3 times, ridden down the Sasa trail all the way from the top 3 times. I’ve hiked the Sasa trail up and down in two days. I hiked the Sasa trail up and the Sipi trail down in two days (That was epic!!) and a few other trips to make the numbers up!
All this means I have a decent idea about how to make an Elgon trip work and I thought that I would share that info with those of you who want to make your own adventure on this incredible mountain.
The experience you will have on Elgon will be a result of how you decide to plan and prepare for your trip. And there are a number of options available for you. Here are two examples of completely different trips I have done. I’ve once hiked the short route (Up and down the Sasa trail) in 4 days with clients. It was super wet and blowing a gale up on the caldera only one of the two clients making the summit that day taking more than 11 hours to do so. On that trip I brought tents, camp tables, chairs, blankets, wine, snacks, a hot shower and our own toilet. Of an evening I prepared a three course meal, and we had a high level of comfort in camp. By contrast as I mentioned before I once did the longer (Sasa / Sipi ) route in just two days, packing peanut butter and nutella sandwiches for every meal and laughing myself to sleep watching my friend make her bed for the night with grass! On day one of that trip we summited just 8 hours after starting out from the trail head in Bumasola, it’s fair to say we had a pretty big day, also mind you in very similar wet weather!
Whatever you choose to do the UWA team will support you and there is a clear pricing structure for entry and guiding permits, camping and porters. Plus a few additional costs for boda-bodas, tips and random extra’s. You can take as many or few porters as you want so you can take whatever you want to build your camp and enjoy your trip! My advice is plan your trip around your groups fitness and experience hiking and camping and what your prepared comfort level is per trip. Either go light and fast or slow and decedent! Make sure you discuss you plan with UWA in advance of your trip so they can also prepare accordingly and note that if you want to do it in less that 3 days then you’re going to have to turn on the charm and convince them pretty hard why it’s a good idea as they often won’t let you do it!
So this is all just the preamble – find all the actual information on the ‘Mt Elgon’ page right HERE!! And enjoy!