At an elevation of 4321 meters above sea level, the extinct Mount Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in the East African region and sits at the Uganda-Kenya border. Mount Elgon has the largest caldera extending for 40 kilometers and is surrounded by rocky peaks.
Mount Elgon National Park is one of the most interesting yet rarely visited National Parks in Uganda covering an area of 1279 square kilometers. It was gazetted in 1992 and is governed by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Wildlife species in Mount Elgon National Park
The vast mountain ranges of Elgon are a wonderful watershed area that supports different ecosystems that are habitats to abundant wildlife species that can be visited by tourists during Uganda safaris. Common mammals to spot within Mount Elgon National Park are Defassa waterbuck, the black and white colobus monkeys, elephants, spotted hyenas, Oribis, buffaloes, red-tailed monkeys, duikers, blue monkeys and many others.
Bird life within and around Mount Elgon National Park
This Mountainous National Park is a haven to over 300 species of birds but the popular ones include the eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Jackson’s francolin, African Reed Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Brown Woodland Warblers, black collared Apalis, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Tacazze sunbirds, the endangered Lammergeier and Hartlaub’s turaco among others.
Other attractions within and around Mount Elgon National Park
Wildlife and birds are not the only attractions you will enjoy within Mount Elgon National Park but others such as;
Mount Elgon National Park is also a home to numerous Caves with the popularly visited ones being Mackingeny, Kitum and Chepnyali Caves that can be hiked to.
The Sipi falls are the most beautiful and popular waterfalls explored during visit to Mount Elgon National Park. Sipi is made up of three breathtaking waterfalls
Hot springs. There are some less-known hot springs within the former volcano’s Crater with hot water that bubble to temperatures of up to 48 Celsius degrees.
Culture of the people
Communities around Mount Elgon National Park have the richest Culture with the Bagishu being popular for their public circumcision ceremony known as “Imbalu” and attractions tourists from around the country and beyond.
Mountain climbing is the major activity conducted within Mount Elgon National Park. There are several hiking trails that lead tourists to the Caldera of Mount Elgon. These trails are the Suam trail, Piswa trail lasting 7 days, Sasa Trail lasting 4 days and the Sipi Trail that lasts 7 days. These trails pass through and lead to the peaks, bamboo forest, Jackson’s peak, Suam River and Gorge among others.
Guided rock climbing is offered through the 14 designated routes in and around Mount Elgon National Park (Sipi falls areas) but required physical fitness and strong heartedness. The easier route is about 15 meters while the most difficult is over 35 meters.
Your visit to Mount Elgon National Park is likely to involve an interactive cultural encounter to some communities where coffee tours, cultural dances, food preparation demonstrations, nature walks and many other cultural activities are offered to your amazement. If visited during the right year, tourists get the chance to witness the public male circumcision exercise commonly known as “Imbalu”.
Mount Elgon National Park is a secluded avifauna hotspot, making birding one of the must-do activities by tourists who visit it. The most sought-after bird species here are Grey cuckoo shrike, Tacazze sunbirds, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Black-throated wattle-eye, Eastern bronze-napped pigeon, Dusky-turtle doves, Jackson’s francolin and many others.
Mountain biking here is usually conducted around the nearby Sipi falls areas and within communities offering an extraordinary way of spotting the wildlife and birds of the area in addition to the experiencing the cultures of the people.
Trout fishing in Uganda is only conducted within Mount Elgon area and is usually conducted from the Sipi falls on the famous River Sipi. With your license and equipment in hand, you will venture into the unexplored road to catch your biggest Mountain trout.
Other activities that await tourists to Mount Elgon National Park are the tour to Nyero Rock Paintings and Caves as well as the Abayuda Jews of Uganda who practice Jewish Conservation Tradition among others.
Where to stay
The commonest and best luxury accommodation facilities in and around Mount Elgon National Park are Mount Elgon Hotel, Mbale Resort Hotel and Sipi River Lodge. For the midrange travelers, facilities such as Lacam Lodge, Wash and Wills Country Home Mbale, Mount Elgon Hotel and Spa, Wimpey Hotel, Masha Hotel, Noah’s Ark Hotel Mount Elgon View Hotel as well as Kayegi Hotel exist for your comfort while the budget travelers are catered for within the Moses Campsite, Suam Guesthouse, Kapkwai Forest Cottages, Crow’s Nest Rest Camp, Rose’s Last Chance and Kapkwata Guesthouse among others.
Best time to visit Mount Elgon National Park
The perfect time to visit Mount Elgon National Park is the dry season-June, July, August, September, December, January and February because during this time trails are relatively drier and less slippery to climb or hike.
How to get to Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon national Park is about 235 kilometers/4 hours’ drive east of Kampala, Uganda’s Capital City and to reach there, you will start your journey from Kampala and pass through the Towns of Jinja, Iganga, Mbale and arrive to Kapchorwa then finally to Mount Elgon National Park.