ABOUT THE PARK
This extinct volcano is one of Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 24 million years ago.
Mt Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain, far exceeding Kilimanjaro’s current 5,895m. Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4,321m, relegating it to the 4th highest peak in East Africa and 8th on the continent.
Mt Elgon is home to two tribes, the Bagisu and the Sabiny, with the marginalized Ndorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet.
The Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba and refer to the mountain by this name.
At 4,000km² Mt. Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world. Located on the Uganda-Kenya border it is also the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. Its vast form, 80km in diameter, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, creating an extensive trans-boundary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.
A climb on Mt. Elgon’s deserted moorlands unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains: the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt. Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km² caldera.
The mammalian fauna of Mount Elgon is poorly known. The most common species or at least the most visible to hikers, are blue monkeys and black and white columbus. A small number of Elephants are residents of forests and several montane moorland endemics.
- Bird Watching
Mount Elgon National Park boasts over 300 birds with over 50 Afrotropical highland biome species living here, including the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird and the famous Alpine Chat. The Jackson’s Francolin and Black-collared Apalis are bird species that you will only find in Mt Elgon National Park. Among those limited to just a few mountains in eastern Uganda are the Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze Sunbird. Mount Elgon is also home to the endangered Lammergeyer which can be seen, soaring above the caldera and the Suam Gorge.
- Summit Hikes
There are 3 main trails to hike to the Mountain summit; The Sasa trailhead at Budadiri, Sipi trailhead at Forest Exploration center-Kapkwai and Piswa trailhead at Kapkwata. Mount Elgon is the prime trekking mountain in East Africa and it is a huge volcano with the largest crater of the major peaks in Africa with the caldera being one of the world’s largest.
- Nature Walks
Nature walks in Mount Elgon National Park are an exciting activity experienced via different trails
- Khauka Cave Trail
- Bamboo Trail
The bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave passes through tropical and bamboo forest. Along the trail are many primates, birds and rare trees such as Elgon teak and Elgon olive. The walk to the Chebonet Falls and the walk to the Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail.
- Cave Visits
Mt. Elgon is penetrated by highly-unusual caves. These include the larger caves of Kitum, Ngwarisha, Chepnyalil, and Makingeny. It’s such an amazing stopover. Some other caves are small and link to Kenya however they are too dark to give you a proper direction to get to the border of Kenya.
Mbale, Eastern Uganda