How To Hike Wanale Hills: A Trek in Eastern Uganda.

Wanale Hills is a hidden jewel in the heart of Eastern Uganda that is just waiting to be discovered by nature lovers and daring individuals.


This alluring location provides an unparalleled trekking experience, with verdant surroundings, breath-taking scenery, and a serene atmosphere accompanying each stride. Come along with me as we go on an amazing walk over the Wanale Hills’ rolling terrain, taking in the breathtaking views of Uganda’s natural surroundings.


Wanale Hills is in a different country, thus I have to arrange this walk appropriately because I live in Nairobi. Fortunately, I have a very helpful friend named Esma in Mbale (The Coffee Guy). When I make it to Mbale City, he promises to show me where to stay. I pack light and reserve an overnight transport from Nairobi to Mbale City.

Arriving at the border in the morning, I pass through customs on both sides. The specific prerequisites for entering Uganda have been covered in depth in another post on this blog. In addition to serving as a tour guide for those wishing to trek Wanale Hills or any other attraction in Mbale city, Esma created a coffee shop to share the local coffee with coffee connoisseurs.

We travel through rural Uganda on a quiet and uneventful route to Mbale. I couldn’t help but observe how diverse Uganda’s cuisine and culture are. They seem to be drawn to homes with tall roofs. I couldn’t help but note how many gorgeous houses with tall roofs there were. When I get to Mbale, Esma and I meet at the museum where he owns and operates a coffee shop. While I relax after the long drive, he makes me a cup of coffee and we catch up. Esma (read The Coffee Guy) is gracious enough to accompany me to the restaurant, and we arrange to hike Wanale Hills together the next day.

Finding Wanale Hills

The charming village of Mbale, the entry point to the Wanale Hills, is where our adventure starts. The warmth of the residents and the vivid colours of the bustling markets welcome us as soon as we step foot in this lively community. Anticipation pulsing through our veins, we walk towards the trailhead with great enthusiasm after a quick break to refuel and take in the local way of life. It’s crucial to remember that there are an abundance of bananas here, including varieties found in the bush. This is not hyperbole; Uganda produces an abundance of food that is only growing. One of their staple foods is Malewa (smoked bamboo shoots that have been dried and preserved. In the districts of Bududa, Sironko, and Mbale, in eastern Uganda, the bamboo plants thrive naturally in the vicinity of Mount Elgon).

Climbing the Paths:

Though the climb to Wanale Hills is challenging, every step is rewarded with breathtaking views and a feeling of achievement. As a moderate hiker, I must say that this was one of the most difficult hikes I have ever completed. The road meanders through lush woodlands, creating a symphony of noises with the singing of birds and the rustle of leaves. The air gets crisper as we go higher, and the surrounding scenery changes to a patchwork of shades of emerald green.

We pass by numerous natural treasures that highlight Wanale Hills’ abundant biodiversity along the route. Exotic creatures peering out from the shadows, towering trees covered in vivid orchids, and tumbling waterfalls concealed by the vegetation are all examples of the raw beauty of this wilderness reserve. We take regular breaks to marvel at these wonders, letting the sights and sounds of nature completely engross us.

A Detour

We decide to make a diversion to the waterfalls to cool off after about 45 minutes. About thirty minutes of our climbing time is spent on this. We go through a woodland that is home to enormous blue gum trees. We can now see the waterfalls, and we can’t wait to cool off, snap some photos, hydrate, and start climbing again. Never give up; the waterfalls offer optimism for reaching the top.

The Summit of Wanale Hills:

The hike is tough for the faint of heart, so I must have asked Esma a million times how far the summit was. We travel, climb, and practically crawl for an hour before arriving at the top of Wanale Hills, where a wide-open view greets us. The expansive views of the neighbouring valleys, replete with lush farms and historic homesteads, are just breathtaking. We locate a cosy area to unwind and have a well-earned cold refreshments while taking in the breathtaking view of Mbale City from the hills and the golden light of the afternoon sun.

Hiking Wanale Hills, A trek in Eastern Uganda.

Something about Wanale Hills that I find difficult to describe is the profound sense one gets when reaching the summit, the spiritual connection, the serenity, the sound of the birds and water, the wind blowing across my face, and the overwhelming want to just stay and never go. If this isn’t one of my main reason to travel I do not know what is!

Descending Wanale Hills:

We choose to take a another path down because it’s not an easy descent. We pass valleys, streams, and trees, so be careful—it’s rather steep and slick. At last, we go through a village surrounded by lush greenery and a coffee plantation. This community offers a breathtaking view of the Wanale Hills. Numerous parallels exist across the various African societies. We halt beneath this wonderful Mugumo tree (as it is known in my culture).

We descend with a deep sense of appreciation as we make our way down from the peak for getting to see Wanale Hills in all of its splendor. We will always carry the memories of our trip with us, serving as a witness to the transformational force of nature and the unwavering spirit of adventure. We go from this magical place with a renewed respect for the beauty all around us as well as a sense of awe that will fuel our travels in the future.

Trekking through the Wanale Hills is an expedition that stirs the soul and encourages us to establish connections with both the natural world and ourselves. It is more than just a physical adventure. Wanale Hills offers a unique experience that will leave you speechless in more ways than one, regardless of your level of hiking experience. So grab your sense of adventure, lace on your hiking boots, and go off to explore the breathtaking natural surroundings of Eastern Uganda. Are you prepared to heed the call of the wild and come to Wanale Hills?

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  1. This gave me a longing for just getting up and getting on a bus with no purpose other than exploring, soaking in the essence of a place, enjoying their food. Thanks for writing about these experiences.

  2. this is so well put! I never appreciate my community enough but this, this points things out, clearer…asante sana! we hope to see you again, and show off more of our amazing hikes, and waterfalls, and coffee and off the beaten track🤭

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