Wanaale Ridge is a distinctive figure of rock extending outwards from the main mountain mass of Mount Elgon. It lies at an elevation of 2,347m and covers a 25km-long tongue of lava that flowed out of the side of the volcano after the cone collapsed to block the main vent.
From generation to generation, natives and visitors from far and near have visited and blessed Wanaale Ridge on Mt. Elgon. Wanaale is named after one of the sons of Masaaba – Wanaale. This place is believed to be the place where Masaaba and Nabarwa coupled to give birth to the great Bamasaaba, the natives of this land. Mbale town lies at the foothill of Wanaale.
It is an impressive mountain replete with precipices, escarpments, deep valleys, water streaked cliffs, caves and rocks. The waters flow naturally and spread to larger water streams and rivers in Masaabaland; eventually pouring their waters in Lake Kyoga.
Wanaale also offers grounds for those interested in paragliding over the Mbale town. The Nabuyonga Trail is a 5km loop with birding, fauna and flora. Viewpoints overlook Mbale town, Lakes Kyoga, Bisina, Salisbara and the rugged mountains in Karamoja region.
On a clear day, you may enjoy vistas of Wagagai peak and even areas of western Kenya. Beware of throwing a stone into the Nabuyonga stream – local folklore claims that if you do so, a thunderstorm will strike before you leave!
Wanaale is blessed with a number of caves – though people are possessed with one called Khaukha cave. It is believed that Masaaba, the father of Bamasaaba (natives) lived in this cave as his home.
There are four caves within Khaukha cave. As you enter there, you get engulfed in chilling blackness, absence of light and absence of warmth. There are head bumps on the cave’s ceiling – a testament that indeed Masaaba must have lived there.
In a tourist narration, “We kept them low enough as we bent our way further into the caves until at a point we were on all fours, crawling like how BaMasaaba ancestors that lived in these caves. As we crawled further in the caves we noticed a glittery substance. On inquiring about it from our guide, he told us that it was a liquid used by the ancestors to cure all ills they had.”
The imposing beauty of Wanaale is a testament that Uganda is truly gifted by nature – and a testament that Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. If Sir Churchill visited Wanaale, he could have baptized Uganda from the Pearl of the World.