On 17th April, The Pearl Guide Uganda hosted “Good Thursday with Mo Roots”, the first of a series of activations geared towards bringing the spirit of our “Experience Premium Uganda”
I am happy and proud to say I made it to the top of the famous Got Ngetta Hill of Lango situated in Ngetta Zone five Kilometers from Lira town. In case you’ve never heard that name before, let me introduce you: the Got Ngetta Hill is a magnificent solid rock standing at about 4,500ft above sea level in Lira town.
Lango’s history has it that around the 16th century, the present day tribes of Teso ,the Karamojong, the Acholi, Langi’s Kumams Japhadola belonged to one group that migrated and settled in the present day Ngetta zone in Lira District.
On a historic morning, this community awoke to the sight of a fear-provoking huge Rock which had landed right in the heart of their community out of the blue. Besides possessing various rocks whose shapes and faces had striking resemblances with aggressive creatures like dinosaurs; not even the paramount witch doctors could move it .At worst, neither could they give a satisfactory account of where it had come from and why it had landed in their community in particular. Ultimately, the locals faithfully acknowledged that it was a fragment of the biggest rock in the skies which had broken off because it was so heavy to float up there. At the end of the day, they named it the Got ngetta translated as the huge rock which had broken off.
Being the superstitious tribe they were, they were quick to jump to conclusion that the falling of this rock was a bad omen to their land hence split and went separate ways. In the new settings where they moved, they met different tribes with whom they intermarried and gave birth to new languages they embraced for generations to date.
Why it’s a hot tourism destination
Apart from its historical significance, Ngetta hill which is hugged by the clear blue skies is also home to among others; over butterflies,30 African monkeys, lots of bird species, beautiful black and green snakes among others. That aside, it also offers a priceless breathtaking panoramic view of Lango, Acholi and Teso areas thanks to its 4,500ft above sea level..
The scaling begins
Time check was about mid-day last Monday. I was trailing my way to Kidepo National Park via the Lira-Kitgum dusty shortcut which penetrates through the bushy lowlands at the foot of the Hill and there came the temptation. As I advanced the flowery junction at the foot of the hill to negotiate my last left turn towards the narrow murrum road that leads to the Kitgum highway, I found myself quivering in sweet anticipation of the fun that would come with climbing the hill. In the twinkling of an eye, my exploration spirits had shot up so high. I could see images of the ease with which I was likely to scale up to the extreme peak. I could smell the sweet scent of victory I would breathe in at hills peak.
In spite of these sweet recollections of victory, my conscience made it clear to me that climbing Ngetta was too risky for someone as ill prepared as the one writing this story. Undeniably, I was not only as thirsty as a desert but also lacking the right shoes for this adventure. Unquestionably, it was obvious I would be making the biggest mistake of my life if I insisted on the abrupt adventure.
But you see, the lure of adventure is as unstoppable as the call of nature. The more you refuse to let go of it, the more you get uncomfortable and that’s why I couldn’t help it give this adventure green lights. Right from the royal green vegetation at the base to the breast like rocks at the peak as seen from down, there were countless physical features worthy getting closer to. From afar, the Hill looked absolutely smooth like gigantic marbles but from its foot, I was treated to the sight of many enormous rocks whose edges were doubly serrate.
After about 3000 strides from my starting point, I made my first stopover after bumping on a two faced titanic rock. From its left to the right face, there were striking resemblances with faces of an angry mature frog and a calm lioness respectively. Unless I am lying, it’s the only rock on the Hill that it hangs in solitude on a cliff hence the only one whose silhouette is indifferent from the tail of a dinosaur. Upon standing on this rock, relished a grand view of Lango region, the land synonymous with splendor and sweet echoes of laughter. Legend has it that due to its tough looking faces which are indifferent from that of an angry beast, very few locals ever dare to give it a second glance out of fear that it may charge on them like live ones do.
After about ten minutes of smothering the beauty of this rock, I was up on my feet for more adventure but ahead of me there were lots of stumbling blocks to trample on if I was to make it to the top. For starters, there were no particular steps to follow upwards. Consequently, I fidgeted my way around two huge round rocks on my way thinking I was progressing only to realize I was moving in circles. In a last attempt, I finally maneuvered past fairly impenetrable thickets and BOOM, there I was at my second stopover after exactly 33minutes.According to my phone, I was 2,914 feet above sea level meaning I still had over 1,000ft to go. But man, I was too tired and worn out to continue. While my clothes were socked with sweat, my hands and legs were hurting so bad. Also, my stomach was boiling with hunger. I felt like calling it a day but then, I had come a long way to call it quits.
The adventure gets slippery
To makes things easier in scaling the remaining distance up, I chose to walk via the dry water channels. Compared to the thickets, it was a better option. However before long, what started as a drizzle turned into down pour. At this point, I feared for my life to no end, I was stuck between a rock and hard place. If I chose to get back onto the rocks, I would risk sliding off because had become slippery. On the other hand if I chose to stay in the waterway, I would risk being buried alive by the rocks which were now hurriedly rolling down the channel in various sizes.
Thanks to my eyes, I saw a native cave just about the peak of the Hill. I also noticed very many long buttress roots before me; they were from amateur tree adjacent to the cave. By clasping onto one root after another, I was able to make it to the cave.
Although it was of delight that I made it this far, I was left wondering whether I would live to write this story or rather whether a story would be written about some journalist whose curiosity threw him into the jaws of death. See, I was over 70,000 feet above sea level yet every inch of the rock I was stepping to get to the extreme peak was supper slippery.
On my first step into the dark cave, I was treated to the two shocking discoveries that saw my jaws drop like never before. Right from the entrance of the cave to the darkest corners, there were worn out clothes, blankets, saucepans, and an old mattress scattered unevenly. For sure, there was a family to whom this cave was a home. As luck would have it, they must have been away for the days’ activities otherwise I wonder how they would have reacted upon finding a stranger like me trespassing in their territory. My second shock came in upon the sight of five well fed local breeds of cattle grazing there right in front of the cave. I am not exactly a coward and I am not anywhere close to being one, however, the sight of these cows evoked fear to my tiniest nerves. For some reason, a part of me was convinced that they were ghosts because cows hardly ever go past 1,000ft above sea level.
Happily, my fear was squashed when Col. Opio Peter a police guard who looks after the Police booster at the extreme peak dropped by as he patrolled around. In curious but friendly tone, he asked me to identify myself after which he further volunteered to guide me to the peak when it stopped raining. Right up there, I found a small house whose walls were full of inscriptions of thousands of names of tourists who had been here before. Right by its left side was the police booster.
Monkeys show up
While washing sweat off my face at a fresh water spring up there, I saw a reflection of five monkeys in the water. They were playing on the extreme peak of the rock at whose feet I was freshening up. The more I attempted to take their pictures, the more they jumped from one branch to another. Eventually, when they felt they had had enough of the stalking, they angrily started stoning me till I left them in piece. All this while, the whistling sweet breeze from the beautiful horizons below were pampering like I was their god. In an hour’s time, I was happily slopping back to my parked car at the junction to pick on with the journey to Kidepo.
How to get there
In case paying adventure fees isn’t your cup of coffee, then brace yourselves for Got Ngetta without heist because unlike most tourism destinations, exploring the hill is absolutely free. With a budget of 100,000shs, one can get there by bus at a fare of 20,000 sh to and 20,000shs fro. To get to the Hill, bod boda rides go for 3000shs and so does the u turn back to the heart of the town. Budget accommodations in most hotels and guesthouse ranges between 20,000shs-100,000shs. Good luck!!
MARIO S. OLENY