Contrary to the western part of the country, eastern Uganda doesn’t find its way onto many traveler’s itineraries. Those who do make their way here are rewarded with some of the country’s best hiking opportunities, including Mount Elgon and the beautiful Sipi Falls Area.
If you’re traveling between the Nile Source at Jinja and the eastern capital of Mbale, the small town of Tororo makes a worthwhile stop to break up the journey and to climb the prominent rock outcrop towering over the city.
It’s an easy hike, but one that is rewarded with great views all around and the chance to seriously get off Uganda’s tourist trail. Read on for everything you need to know about climbing Tororo Rock.
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How to get to Tororo?
Tororo can be found in the southeastern part of Uganda, close to the border with Kenya. It can be reached by matatu (shared taxi) from the bigger cities of Mbale to the north and Jinja to the west. While it lies about halfway between these two, the direct road passes it by, so you need to take a direct connection to Tororo from either city.
The trip from Mbale to Tororo should take about an hour, while the trip from Jinja to Tororo would be about three hours. The border town of Malaba is a 15 minute matatu or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) ride to the East.
Where to leave your luggage?
If you want to make Tororo a stop between Jinja and Mbale, and you don’t have your own transport, you’ll likely arrive with one matatu and leave with another. Unless you want to lug your backpack up the rock, you’ll need to leave your luggage somewhere in town. Your best bet is to ask at one of the hotels or guest houses in the town centre, if they would store it for you.
We asked at the Blue Mountain Guesthouse off Malakisi Road, and they were super friendly and helpful, but there are plenty of other hotels around the roundabout in the centre of town, so you can just ask around. You also might want to consider leaving a small tip afterwards as a thank-you.
Do you need a guide for Tororo Rock?
The hike can easily be done on your own, although would-be guides might tell you otherwise. Someone will likely offer their services to you on your way to the rock (mzungus stick out like a sore thumb in this part of Uganda), so if you want to do it on your own, politely decline.
If you prefer the company of a guide, and no one approaches you on the way to the trailhead, your best bet would again be to ask at one of the hotels in town.
How long does the Hike up Tororo Rock take?
Two hours should be sufficient for the entire hike. Plan about 1 hour for the hike up, half an hour down, with some time to enjoy the views from the top.
Climbing Tororo Rock – Description of the Hike
Starting from the big roundabout in the centre of Tororo, the easiest way to get to the trailhead is by walking east along Malikisi Road, aka. Uhuru Drive and then turning right (south) after passing Rock High School. Make your way south past a couple of small huts and follow the eastern edge of the hill south until you reach the beginning of the trail at the southeastern point of the hill.
Given the rock’s prominence, the trail rises pretty steeply the entire time, so you might want to take it slow in the beginning. Make sure to stop once in a while to enjoy the splendid views east towards the Kenyan Border. If you’re lucky, you may also spot some black-and-white casqued hornbills on your way up the mountain, like we did.
Once you’ve reached the top, you’re rewarded with amazing views in all directions, including over Tororo Town to the north, over the eastern Ugandan plains to the west and into Kenya to the south and east. The big factory to the south-west is the home of Tororo Cement, which you can see being lugged all over the country in the backs of trucks.
On a clear day, you’re even supposed to be able to see Lake Victoria to the south-west, although we couldn’t spot it ourselves. Once you’ve seen enough, you can simply return the same way you came.
What else to see in Tororo
There’s not much else of interest in Tororo, except some traces of its former grandeur. Once, this used to be one of the biggest cities in the country, as the broad avenues and some faded colonial-style houses testify to. There are also two small hindu temples in the town centre.
The best Hotels in Tororo
We visited Tororo on our way from Jinja to Mbale, so we only spend a few hours in town. If you want to spend the night here, there are plenty of hotels to be found in the town centre. Among these, Mamikki Hotel Apartments seems to be the best pick.
Where to go next
Jinja, Home to the Source of the Nile and Uganda’s Adventure Capital
Sipi, a beautiful area for hiking, dotted with impressive waterfalls