Named after one of the sons of Masaba, that much-revered patriarch of the Bagisu people, Wanale is believed to be the place where Nabarwa, the Kalenjin woman who prevailed upon Masaba to get circumcised before they got married, came from, on her way from Kenya.
With that connection in mind, it is perhaps befitting that Wanale should overlook Mbale town, the centre of life in the land of the Bamasaba. But even something this majestic could not escape the influence of the nosy Baganda (forgive the pun) as Semei Kakungulu named it ‘Nkokonjeru’ after the many white chickens that Wanale, the person, reared. Thankfully, the name did not quite catch on. Kakungulu would go on to found the ‘Abayudaya’ a jewish sect of Ugandan followers sequestered around the area itself. His was a shadow that cast itself so wide in the region that he became the de facto king in the East.
Wanale ridge is a foothill of Mt. Elgon and this shows in the way it presents rugged slopes, deep valleys, water falls, streams and much of the same terrain you would expect to find on the mountain. The trail will wind through homesteads and plantations hanging onto the steep slopes for dear life, rock outcrops, streams and slippery ground should it rain the night before. The top of the ridge offers an imposing view over Mbale town.
The last time MSU went up Wanale was in the opening season. It turned out to be a trip loaded with fun stories as we had it all from camping at the top of the ridge, taking baths in the bush, dancing away at a local kafunda, abseiling down Sipi Falls and entertaining the palate on ‘busumani kha malewa’. You can expect the same and more on this FOMO trip. We wait with bated breath to see whether the ridge will break the spirit of yet more people as it did to a one Odankie.