"For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for the profusion of brilliant life - bird, insect, reptile, beast - for vast scale - Uganda is truly 'the Pearl of Africa'."
- Winston Churchill 1908
115 years on and it's still totally true - join us as we journey to this remarkable country and trek in its remote wilderness.
Our challenge is to climb to the highest point of the worlds largest mountain caldera! On Uganda's eastern border with Kenya sits Mt Elgon and Wagagai Peak, its vast bulk is riven with caves, gorges and waterfalls, and it provides refuge to a wide variety of wildlife. Trekking from the lower slopes with its humid tropical montane forest, through deserted moorland to the rocky crater rim, where we enjoy views over the vast caldera - this wonderful off-the-beaten-track adventure has it all.
Time at the end to explore Kampala and hear about Uganda's rich tribal heritage is a great way to round off a most memorable trip.
An early meet at a London airport sees us begin our Ugandan adventure. Following the flight, we arrive late into Entebbe International aiport and after completing the necessary visa requirements and collecting lugguge, we take a short transfer to our hotel before getting our heads down for a good night's rest. Night Hotel
After breakfast and a trip briefing, we drive northeast, to Kapkwai, where our trek starts. It’s a long drive, but all part of the challenge, and a great introduction to Uganda’s landscapes and friendly culture. We drive via the cities of Jinja, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and Mbale, before approaching Mount Elgon National Park and passing through smaller towns and villages nestled in the foothills. We stay the night at the Forest Exploration Centre, an education centre managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority; there is plenty of information to whet your appetite for the days to come! Here we’ll meet our local support crew, and have a more detailed briefing. Night dorm rooms (2050m).
Our trekking adventure starts with a hike that climbs fairly gradually up through montane forest. This area is known for its caves and waterfalls, and we pass both as we head up towards the viewpoint at Wiri Ridge. On the way, look out for baboons and forest antelopes such as waterbucks, bush backs and duikers, as well as colourful birdlife. The highlight of our trail, however, is Tutum Cave. The largest cave on the mountain, it connects Uganda and Kenya, though there is no evidence anyone has made the complete crossing. A beautiful waterfall often tumbles over the mouth of the cave, and we can explore inside (bring your head-torch!) and try to spot the fruit-bats living here. We camp nearby. Night camp (2667m).
An early breakfast, and another chance to see the cave before we set off. As we gain height today, heading for the beautiful Kajeri Valley, we see the vegetation around us change from the denser forest of the lower slopes to more open bamboo forest and heather landscapes. The ascent is fairly steady, and our surroundings very scenic as we cross the Sipi River and head up through Kajeri Valley, taking in Kajeri Falls and some wonderful views from the higher ridges. We are likely to see numerous colourful butterflies and birds today – and keep your eyes peeled for primates such as black and white colobus monkeys. Night camp (3385m).
Another uphill day as the toughness ramps up again, but we should be acclimatising well to our environment as well as the altitude, and take the challenge in our stride! More spectacular scenery awaits as we head up to the day’s high point. The vegetation changes again, to high altitude moorland dotted with giant groundsel, lobelia and forget-me-not, and we pass more waterfalls and smugglers’ caves. We traverse the Sisiye River as we head up to Muyembe valley, enjoying the views of rocky peaks and plugs in strange formations (look out for one shaped like the world cup!) After time to enjoy the breath-taking views, we descend to camp via Simu gorge, carved into the volcanic rock by the caldera’s water. Night camp (3500m).
Summit day! It’s a long day, but we take it steady as we trek up through the alpine flowers and vegetation such as juniper and spine globes, passing more volcanic plugs. We take in Jackson pool - a small water-filled crater, and feast our eyes on the giant cliff-face of Jackson Peak, and views of the high Kenya peaks – Sudek, on the border with Uganda, and Koitobos in Kenya itself. We may see civet cats, duikers and even jackals at this elevation. Upon reaching Wagagai, the highest peak on Mount Elgon at 4321m, we take some time to soak up the far-reaching views and the huge sense of achievement. We descend back the same way to our camp at Mude, and relax! Night camp (3500m).
Our day of descent brings us off the mountain, passing back down through the heather zone, into bamboo and montane forest once more. In theory it’s an easier effort, but the terrain can be tough on the knees when continually descending, and there are some steep sections. We can feel the temperature rising as we descend, via Sasa River and Mudange Cliffs, eventually coming to the trail head where our vehicles are waiting. We drive to Mbale, where we can enjoy a well-earned hot shower and comfy bed! Night hotel (1700m).
After a lovely night’s sleep in a proper bed and a relaxing breakfast, we transfer back via Jinja to Kampala, the capital city. You can relax and freshen up after check-in, before gathering together for a meal and a fascinating evening of traditional dance and music, to celebrate our achievements. Night hotel.
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Usually leaders are based in the UK or other English-speaking countries and lead for us regularly throughout the year in many different countries. In some instances, trips are led by in-country guides with a wealth of knowledge about the region; they have been trained by us to provide the level of support expected on a Discover Adventure trip.
An expedition doctor or medic accompanies the group (dependent on group size.) Their role is to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly, and encourage you when things get tough. The total number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: participant ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, assisted by drivers, porters, cooks and other support staff, depending on the type of trip. Local guides know the area well, and are a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Not all support crew will speak English well, but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek, and you will be provided with a guideline amount in advance. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in many countries we travel to is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick on scheduled airlines and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Your journey may involve a transit en route, details of route and flight times will be confirmed several months before departure. We do not always use the same airline for each destination; if you wish to know the probable carrier and flight times, please call for details. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
While trekking, we camp in two-man tents; these are usually expedition-style (ie sleeping room only). Camps are usually simple, in remote locations with great views but fairly basic facilities – bear in mind this is a remote mountain, and much of its appeal is that it is quiet and untouristed. Our first night will be spent in simple dorm-style accommodation, and at the end of the trip we stay in tourist-class hotels of a good standard.
Some accommodation (in hotels or camp) will be twin-share. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.
On some nights we are likely to sleep in more communal accommodation such as dormitories/hostels, huts, local homestays or monasteries, depending on the trip, and you may be sharing with a larger number of participants or the whole group; this type of accommodation cannot always be single-sex.
Your booking is part of a group challenge, and the tour costs and fundraising targets listed on our website are based on a minimum number of participants which is shown on the challenge Our typical groups run with approximately 20-30 participants; however you may find your group is smaller or larger than this.
We will confirm at least 12 weeks prior to departure that your challenge is guaranteed to run. Occasionally it may be possible to still run the challenge with less than the minimum numbers, subject to a small group supplement. If we think a small group supplement may be necessary, we will discuss this with you as soon as possible, usually 5 months before your departure date.
Minimum numbers and groups sizes may vary on Bespoke Charity challenges. If you are booked onto a bespoke challenge please contact your charity for full details.
The food provided is plentiful, often local in style and freshly-cooked, and will give you plenty of energy. Sometimes we enjoy a buffet-style lunch-stop, other times we might have packed lunches. On some trips we stop at small local restaurants. Dinners are generally eaten in camp or at the hotel, depending on accommodation. In some regions there may be less variety than you are used to, and in others fresh meat or produce can be harder to come by. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally on travel / free days, giving you the opportunity to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit different budgets.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we may be in very rural or remote areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat we strongly recommend you bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Your luggage, food, water and equipment is transported for you from one night-stop to the next. If there is easy road access this is done by vehicle; if not porters, mules or even camels might carry your bags, depending on the destination and terrain.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email. Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees and amendment fees are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.
Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.
We have a Passenger Portal which will give you more details of the challenge itself. It also enables you to see any outstanding information we need, the countdown to your challenge departure, see your outstanding balance, make payments and update your contact details. You can access this via the following link - Passenger Portal Log in.
This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience, fitness and ability as well as all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. If you have concerns about your fitness or if you have reduced mobility please do contact us for a confidential chat about whether this challenge is appropriate for you.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. Please ensure you allow plenty of time to apply for your visa; we will provide you will all necessary information 6 weeks prior to depature to assist with your application.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, with plenty of information, and we are always available if you need advice.
Travel Insurance is compulsory on all of our challenges outside of the UK; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed or as soon as you're able to purchase some and at least 8 months prior to travel. Should you need to cancel prior to departure, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date).
We all hope never to need it, and thankfully most of the time we don't, but on those rare occassions when you do, you want it to cover you as best it can. Whilst it's a fairly boring admin task relating to your trip of a lifetime it is really important you ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation, so make sure you're happy with the level of cover. There are lots of suppliers out there, all with very varying levels of cover and generally speaking, you get what you pay for! Get and pay for the right level of cover and then you can go on your adventure not having to worry about the what if's. For more details click here.
Once your travel insurance is arranged, just remember to let us know the policy number and 24hr medical emergency phone number which is provided by your insurers!
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow participants and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!