Mountain Elgon National Park: An ancient extinct volcano, one of Uganda’s oldest geographical features. Mountain Elgon first erupting around 24 million years ago and once was the highest African peak. However, at present, its Uganda 2nd highest peak raised 4,321m, pending 4th in East African and races 8th at the continent.
Elgon has the largest caldera (base) on the continent (40,000km2), the highest summit of the mountain is Wagagai range (4,321m). The mountain extends from Uganda to eastwards to the neighboring Kenya.
The mountain brands the eastern sub-regions hosting the several tribes of the Bamasaba (Gisu/Bagishu) one of the Uganda’s dominant ethnic tribes who dwell within the ranges and the Sabiny at the foothills northwards of the mountain. And there also marginalized Ndorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet as well the Masai on the Kenyan side.
History of Mountain Elgon
Habitually Bamasabas (Bagishu people) call the mountain the personification of their ancestral initial father (Masaba) hence calling the mountain by his name. Before the mountain ranges of Elgon were settled in by the Bamasaba.
Joseph Thomson become the first European explore to come closer to mountain Elgon in 1883 and on seeing the mountain, Thomson described it as an outpost of the great central lava-field of the Masai land. The Bagishu in South and south western part of the mountain never cultivated above 6000 feet on the mountain until the introduction of Arabica coffee and European Vegetables.
Mountain Elgon in Uganda was gazzetted in 1992, it’s under the management of Uganda Wildlide Authority branded as the “World’s Largest Caldera”. In Kenya the mountain was gazzetted in 1968.
Heights of Mount Elgon
Mt. Elgon brags over 5 summits of which are shared between Uganda and Kenya;
Wagagai (4,321 metres (14,177 ft)) Uganda, it’s the highest peak on mountain Elgon.
Mubiyi (4,211 metres (13,816 ft)) Uganda.
Masaba (4,161 metres (13,652 ft)) Uganda.
Sudek (4,302 metres (14,114 ft)) shared on the border of Uganda and Kenya.
Koitobos (4,222 metres (13,852 ft)), it’s a flat-topped basalt column situated in Kenya.
Districts covered by Mount Elgon
The Elgon Mountain covers an area of 1121kms covering districts of Mbale, Bududa, Budadiri, Manafwa, Bukwo, Sironko and Kapichorwa. And in Kenya it covers the north of Kisumu and west of Kitale.
How to get there
The Mountain is located in the eastern region of Uganda, it’s a bout 4hours drive from Kampala capital along Kampala – Jinja – Mbale Road).
Biodiversity Reach of Mt. Elgon
Mountain Elgon is a rich ecological hub which hosts quit a great number of wildlife (Fauna and Flora). With a greater area coverage, the higher slopes of the mountain are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, which avails chances of extensive trans-boundary conservation that were declared UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.
The vegetation of the mountain is characterized by the deserted moorlands unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains.
The park is home to over 300 species of bird, a great number of mammals including tree hyraxes, blue monkeys, elephant, buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hog, bush pig, leopard, civet and serval cats, serval cats, spotted hyena; aardvark and several rodent species.
Activities to do at Mountain Elgon
Hiking in the park is one of the most rewarding activities Mount Elgon Park because of the nature of the terrain that will give the adventure tourist an amazing time hiking the mountain. There are a number of trail heads like the Sasa trail and Sipi trail that you will take to reach the different peaks of the mountain that tourists can embark on to have an amazing time in the park. During hikes to the peak you will have the chance to see a number of rewarding attractions like bird species for instance; mammal species like the Defassa waterbuck, Elephants, Oribi, Bushbucks, Buffaloes and Spotted Hyena and a number of primate species including the black and white colobus monkeys, other attractions like the sipi falls, coffee and tea plantations among other interesting attractions.
Mountain Biking Trail
Mountain Biking on Mount Elgon is another adventurous activity you can take part in when you visit the park for an amazing Uganda safari. The mountain has a number of biking trails which start from sipi trading centre and end at chema hill in Kapchorwa that will make your activity quite rewarding with a number of challenges, a number of attractions that you will come across and exceptional views of the waterfalls for an amazing safari.
The park has a lot to offer to the tourists but birding will give you an amazing time among the different activities in Mount Elgon national park where you will get to see different bird species like the endemic species, migratory bird species from Europe running away from harsh climatic conditions. in the park, birding is carried out the Kapkwai forest exploration center where a number of bird species Ad some of the bird species that can be seen include; like white-chinned Prinia, Luhders and Doherty’s Bush-shrikes, Chubb’s Cisticola, African Goshawk, African Blue Flycatcher and Baglafetcht weaver and many other bird species that will make your activity quite memorable.
Forest/ Nature Walks
Forest walks is another great activity to do at Mountain Elgon Park, trails through the forest take you through caves, waterfalls and various bird areas giving you an opportunity to observe various bird species and wildlife.
Mountain Elgon has various cultures for cultural encounters including the local Bagisu, Masaba among others. The great event here is the Embalu which includes circumcising men using local means this attracts any tourists to see this historical cultural event every year.
Sipi Falls Adventure
Sipi falls hike is another great activity to do on your visit to Murchison Falls National Park, at Sipi falls you will have an opportunity to see the river as it plunges over three sets of basalt cliffs during its decent to the plains beneath.
Mountain Elgon is one of the areas in Uganda where finest coffee is grown and produced the major type of coffee grown here is Arabica coffee. On this coffee tour you will take a guided tour of a coffee garden to see how coffee is grown up to when it is harvest at the end of the tour you will also taste the locally grown coffee with a cup of coffee and have options to buy as well.
Possible itinerary to Mountain Elgon
3 Days Mountain Elgon
5 days trekking to the summit of Wagagai
7 days Eastern and Northern Uganda adventure
Best time to visit the park
Its best during the dry seasons of December to March and June to September, during this time there is limited rain pours and dominated by heat and dry humidity. To many travelers, the dry season is the best time to visit the gorillas since the gorilla trails are passable with no different compared to the wet season is consists of a lot of hardness as the trails are not passable making trekking a lot bit difficult