New Year, New Adventure. I thought I would start off with a bang by climbing Uganda’s Mount Elton. It is East Africa’s biggest and oldest volcano and lies on the border with Kenya.
This is something of a homecoming for me because when I was just six weeks old, my Mum and Dad boarded a ship and sailed for Kenya. I was in nappies – and allegedly behaved like an angel for the entire trip. Well, that is what I tell myself to loud disclaimers from both parents. From Mombasa, we travelled by train and by car and I was to spend the first eight years of my childhood running around the African countryside and gazing out over the foothills of the Rwenzoris.
The good news is that Uganda’s Mount Elgon last erupted 10 million years ago so I am not expecting any lava. I am expecting some pretty hefty climbing, as the summit is 4370m. I am also aware that there is malaria in the region and snakes. I have packed my anti-venom. When we camped across Uganda as kids, Mum always used to warn us to look before we squatted in case of reptiles lying in wait for a toddler’s bottom.
This adventure has another special significance for me. I am doing it with a small charity called SALVE which works to get Ugandan street kids off the streets and back into families and into school. I have supported them for several years now. And, at last, I am going to get to meet Morris who I have sponsored through school and who is now a young man hoping to be a mechanic. I am so full of admiration at the way he has turned his life around and I can’t wait to see him for real. Please do have a look at what they do.
One of the very exciting things we may catch a glimpse of during our adventure is the families of elephants who live on the volcano. They mine salt from the caves that are burrowed into the mountain to supplement their diet. Fingers crossed! There are also colobus monkeys which I remember so well from school. At break we used to go to the end of the playground and see if we could spot their distinctive black and white livery flashing through the trees. They used to scream insults and throw fruit at us.
This expedition is being supported by the brilliant Battleface Insurance. Not only are they once again supporting me and supplying me with insurance – I very much hope I won’t have to claim for the aftermath of a dog attack this time. They are also donating to SALVE. Thank you Battleface!
You can as always follow climbing Uganda’s Mount Elgon on Instagram and on the podcast.