It is not just the view, but the climb that brings reward; this is the mantra of many a rock climber. Unsure whether this is your cup of tea? Start with Kagulu Hill, a rock laced with local folklore and one of Uganda’s most satisfying vistas.
Kagulu Hill. Photo/Weekly Observer
The 3,600-foot-high Kagulu Hill is located in the Busoga sub-region’s Buyende district, about 30 kilometers from Kamuli town in Eastern Uganda. This hill is central to the cultural heritage of the locals (the Busoga) because it is thought to be the site of the sub-region’s first migration and settlement of natives.
It also houses the history that has bound Busoga and Bunyoro, another native tribe of Uganda, for centuries. If you find time with a good Musoga (what the Basoga people are called), s/he will tell you the story of how Basoga migrated from Bunyoro and why the two cultures and their languages are interwoven.
According to legend, Bunyoro kings sought refuge and spent their leisure time on Kagulu Hill. The hill also comprises caves, small crater lakes said to have formed the first settlement of the earlier traditional rulers of the Babiito clan, which governed Busoga. According to legend, Prince Mukama was one of the first Bunyoro traditional rulers to conquer Busoga and settle in the Kagulu hill caves.
Aside from the hill’s history, the challenge that comes with ascending it. While the gradient is initially gentle, allowing climbers to get a feel for the activity, Kagulu Hill is mostly steep. Fortunately, it is not so steep that mountaineering equipment, including ropes and pickles, is required. All one needs is a sturdy set of running shoes and an even sturdier heart. The ascent continues steeply for a little more than 500 meters. Thereafter comes the relief.
Stairs built by Idi Amin Dada in 1972. Courtesy The Observer.
Stairs. Yes, I said it, stairs. Built in 1972 by the infamous Idi Amin Dada, Kagulu’s summit has stairs leading to the peak, easing access and saving climbers the precarious ascent that would risk more than inconvenience were it not for them. That is, the stairs.
Owing to age, some of the stairs are worn with grass and a few shrubs, but nothing to worry much about. This is because the stairs were hewed from the very rock that is Kagulu, making them strong and sure to last.
At the top of the hill, there is also a pool of water in which people used to bathe, believing there was a cure for their diseases. However, the water in the pool has since receded in size. Marriages, royal deaths, and the birth of children were all commemorated on the hill.
Locals pray to spirits believed to be in the crater lake atop Kagulu. Photo/ The Observer
Besides these are what are believed to be Royal Seats for the Basoga people. The larger-than-life folklore is one of the reasons you’d like to have a tour guide with you on this trip. Include this in your trip