Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Kapchorwa: The land and culture that produced Uganda’s Second Olympic Gold Medalist Stephen Kiprotich

Kapchorwa, found in Eastern Uganda at the base of Mt. Elgon, is not endowed with that many nationally recognized natural or historical attractions. But the whole place called Kapchorwa district is a natural attraction in itself. It has splendour of steep slopes and natural escarpments, from forested mountains, which are tempting for a mountain climb, to numerous falls from rivers flowing out of mountains, to the sites that make you feel like you have the whole world under your feet, Kapchorwa has it all.

A journey to Kapchorwa is as tantalizing as it is worrying. Especially on your maiden visit to the hilly district, it is bound to keep you on tension as the vehicles swerves through either huge rocks or valleys on both sides of the road. Sometimes you feel like you are about to enter into a rock or you will easily fall off into the valley as the vehicle negotiates its way up the steep slopes. At View Point from where you can see tens of miles ahead on the left hand side, you are able to see the savannah grassland stretching across Karamoja region with dots for people’s houses and gardens. It is a sight you need to experience at least twice in your lifetime as you enjoy a cool breeze from the environs and a unique serenity that only God could have engineered.

Much of the hillsides are decorated with a splash of vibrant colours as flowers in soft pinks, whites and a blaze of reds, oranges can be made out from the largely green foliage covering the slopes.
As you move along the road, families are engaged in different activities, farming in their garden, guarding their cereals which they have brought to the roadside to dry, or guiding their animal work machines that will certainly make you look harder.
Donkeys, oxen and camels, are used as a means of transport because they can manage the sloppy terrain of Kapchorwa. Almost every family in Kapchorwa owns a donkey, ox or a camel, which they use for transport or plowing. This alone is a tourist attraction, as camels, donkeys and oxen are a rare sight in most parts of Uganda.
Expansive crop gardens rolling in the contours on the slopes of either side of wherever you will be, add to the beauty and green glamour that many people have come to permanently associate with Kapchorwa.
However these people have one the most demeaning cultural practices of female circumcision (female genital mutilation), for which the district is mostly known in Uganda and elsewhere. The mention of Kapchorwa sends many Ugandans thinking of the Sabiny and their culture of circumcising girls, a practice that has drawn many human rights NGOs to the area in order to fight it.

What to do in Kapchorwa
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park is found in both Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda, it is found in the districts of Kapchorwa and Mbale. The National Park is a gazetted international ecological conservation area, as a habitat to unique vegetation species. The Park is also home to a number of endangered animal species, including buffalos and cheaters which traverse the Mount Elgon ranges on both Uganda and Kenya sides. In addition, the Park is also habitat to bird species not found in other parts of Uganda. Thus the Park offers opportunity for mountain climbing, bird watching, game and flora viewing.
Better accessibility is offered via Kapkwata and the ‘forest exploration centre’ at Bumasola in Kapchorwa District, where mountain climbing expedition trails are well developed. Besides the wildlife, the Caldera found at the most top of the Elgon ranges is a key attraction of the Park. The Caldera remained as a depression on top of Mount Elgon after the volcanic activity. The depression is 8 kilometers in diameter and has a circumference of 40 Kilometers. Other attractions within the Caldera include Hot Springs, Crater lakes, the Swam Gorge with heavy population of wild game and scenic peaks rising up to 4321 Kilometers above sea level.
Sippi Falls
The falls are found at Sippi, about 15 kilometers from Kapchorwa town, along the Mbale-Kapchorwa road. The falls are a key attraction for visitors to the district and of national significance. The site comprises four falls and the walk to the bottom of the falls is the main attraction. Cave exploration and community/nature walk are part of the product offered at Sippi.
Exploration Centre
The Exploration centre is another important attraction for visitors to Kapchorwa. The centre is a facility designed for training local communities and visitors on ecological aspects and sustainable use of the Park’s resources. Some trails have been developed from the centre to important ecological and tourism points along the mountain ranges.  The Centre also offers ample accommodation for visitors to the Park.
Pian Upe Game Reserve
The Reserve is found in Nakapipirit district at the northern boundary of Kapchorwa district. The Reserve is habitat to significant numbers of game species due to the various rivers and green river valleys. The animals include buffalos, hyenas, Dik-Dik, the Greater and Lesser Kudus. Others are: Topis, Zebras, Orex, Jackson Herte Beasts, Oribi and Ostriches. Occasionally, Kenyan Zebras also wander from Kenya through the Pian-Upe Reserve.
When to Visit
Any time of the year

1 comment:

  1. Great post. May you can mention some great news about trekking
    like discount offers.