Mountain Elgon National Park is located northeast of Lake Victoria, bordering Kenya and Uganda. The Ugandan part of the park covers 1,110 km2, while the Kenyan part covers 169 km2. The Kenyan part was gazetted in 1968, while the Ugandan part was gazetted in 1992. The park is located 235 kilometers away from the capital city of Kampala along the Eastern Route. The drive to the park takes 5 to 6 hours through Jinja and Mbale before reaching the park.
The highest peak of Mount Elgon, formed at 4,321 meters, is called Wagagai Peak, located on the Ugandan side. Other peaks in Mt. Elgon include Mubiyi at 4210 meters, Kiongo at 4303 meters, and Jackson’s summit at 4165 meters. Mount Elgon forms a great number of rivers, mostly the river Sipi, which forms the spectacular Sipi Falls, and other flowing rivers. Mount Elgon is surrounded by many local tribes that know the mountain as Mt. Masaba.
This name was named after the founding ancestors that stayed long around the mountain; those are the Bagishu, also known as Bamasaba. This name, Bamasaba, is the name of their god, who was believed to have come from one of the caves created on the slopes of the mountain. There are two local tribes that live around the mountain, which are the Bagishu and the Sabiny.
Mount Elgon is one of the oldest physical features found in Uganda; it first erupted 20 million years ago. The mountain was once the highest mountain in Africa, far exceeding the current Mount Kilimanjaro, which stands at 5900 meters. However, its height was reduced after severe soil erosion to 4,321 meters, making it the 4th highest mountain in East Africa and the 8th in Africa.
The extinct volcano is one of the oldest physical features due to its eruption. Due to the eruption, Mount Elgon has the largest base in the world; it’s a massive form of about 80km in diameter, raising over 3000 meters above sea level.
Wildlife in Mountain Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is home to large mammals, including elephants, buffaloes, and waterbucks, spotted hyenas, duikers, oribi, monkeys, and many others. The mount is also home to over 300 species of birds, including the African goshawk, white-chinned prinia, African blue flycatcher, Chubb’s cisticola, moorland francolin, Marsh widowbird, Alpine chat, Weyn’s weaver, Jackson’s Francolin, black-collared apalis, Red-throated wryneck, Moustached green ticker bird, Hunter’s cisticola, and others.
Attractions and activities in Mount Elgon National Park
Hiking to the Mountain:
Hiking is the major activity done in Mount Elgon National Park. There are four major hiking trails: the Piswa Trail, Suam Trail, Sasa Trail, and Sipi Trail. The hike takes you up to Waggagai Peak, the summit of Mount Elgon, while others take you to Sipi Water Falls. A hike to Mount Elgon takes between 4 and 7 days, depending on the trail you take and the physical fitness of the Client. The hike is gentle and easier to take compared to other mountains.
Mount Elgon National Park is one of the best destinations for bird watching, with over 299 bird species. 12 are endemic birds; these include: Moorland Francolin, Marsh Widowbird, Alpine Chat, Wyn’s weaver, Hunters Cisticola, Black-collared Apalis, Red-throated Wryneck, Jackson’s Francolin, Moustached Green Tinker Bird, and many others. Other common bird species include Lammergerier Vultures, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Eastern bronze-napped Pigeon, Tacazze Sunbird, White-starred Forest Robin, Black-shouldered Kite, and many others.
Hiking Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls is one of the most attractive activities a tourist shouldn’t miss while visiting Mount Elgon National Park. The spectacular Tutum Cave, which is hidden within extensive forest, is what Sipi has to offer. The fall is formed when the River Sipi meets the end of the volcanic rock at the edge of the cave.
Access to Mount Elgon National Park
The park can only be accessed by road, which takes about 5 to 6 hours from Kampala to the east via Jinja and Mbale before reaching Mount Elgon National Park. The route beyond Mbale is surfaced as far as Kapchorwa town on the northwest side of the mountain. Dirty roads lead off this road to the various trailheads.
When to visit the park
Mount Elgon can be visited all year round, though the best time for Hiking is during the dry seasons of June to August, while December up to March are most enjoyable.
Where to stay:
Mount Elgon National Park provides both luxury, midrange, and Budget accommodation facilities. These include the Sunrise Inn, Mbale Resort Hotel, Mount Elgon Hotel, Sipi Falls Resort, Masha Hotel, Kayegi Hotel, Sipi River Lodge, Mount Elgon View Hotel, Suam Guesthouse, and Twilight Campsite, among others.