The Mount Elgon National Park is named after Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano that first erupted more than 24 million years ago and is located on the Kenyan-Ugandan border. With a peak elevation of 4,321 meters, Mount Elgon is the eighth-highest mountain in Africa and has the biggest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world. The Ugandan section of the park occupies 1,110 km2 of its 1,279 km2 total surface area, while the smaller Kenyan section occupies 169 km2.
Wildlife at Mount Elgon National Park.
Numerous animals live in Mount Elgon National Park. Elephants, buffalo, and a variety of tiny antelope live on Mount Elgon’s lower slopes. Primates like the blue monkey and the black and white colobus monkey can be found in the deep highland forest. More than 300 different bird species, including the lammergeyer and the Tacazze sunbird, may be found in the park.
Local Culture at Mount Elgon National Park.
The Sabiny and the Bagisu are two tribes that reside in Mount Elgon National Park. The Bagisu speak Lugisu, a Lumasaba dialect, and the Sabiny speak Sebei, a Nilotic language. The Bagisu refer to the mountain as Mount Elgon because they think it represents their founding father, Masaba. Both tribes engage in subsistence agriculture.
Tourist activities at Mount Elgon national park/ things to do
One of Mount Elgon’s main draws is its network of hiking trails. Unlike other climbs in East Africa, Mount Elgon’s routes are open all year long and don’t require specialized climbing gear. Compared to other hiking paths in East Africa, Mount Elgon’s hiking trails are less crowded, allowing you to fully appreciate the area’s breathtaking beauty. There are three primary hiking trails on Mount Elgon, and they range in length and difficulty.
The Sasa Trek is the shortest but most difficult trail, taking four days to complete. This is the traditional path to Wagagai, the 4,321-meter peak of Mount Elgon. At a height of 1,250 meters, the trail’s beginning is near the town of Budadiri in Uganda’s Eastern Region. The first day comprises a challenging 1,650m ascent. The trail next enters a forest, leading to the ladder-climbable Mudangi Cliffs. The next activity is a 2.5-hour stroll through a lovely bamboo forest. You will walk more leisurely on Day 2 and arrive in Wagagai on Day 3.
The Piswa Trail is a longer, less taxing option than the Sasa Trail. In 7 days, you’ll travel around 49 kilometers. At a height of 2,190 meters, the trail’s beginning is at the Kapkwata settlement on the mountain’s northern flank. The trail is renowned for its breathtaking vistas of Kenya’s Kapeguria and Nandi Hills and Uganda’s Karamoja Plains.
The Sipi Trek is the longest trail, stretching 56 kilometres over four to six days. A few kilometers from Sipi Falls, at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, the trail begins. The portion through Tatum Cave, known for its prehistoric cave paintings, is one of its highlights.
Day Hikes: The Forest Exploration Center features three shorter paths that range in length from 3 to 7 kilometers. These pathways are ideal for novice hikers and tourists who wish to enjoy Mount Elgon’s breathtaking beauty and abundant animals quickly.
The mountains biking
In 2012, the Uganda Wildlife Authority opened mountain biking trails. In order to hire bicycles, go to Sipi River Lodge. One 12-hour trek connects Sipi Trading Centre at an elevation of 1,775m to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa.
Over 300 different bird species can be found in Mount Elgon National Park, which has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Bird lovers should keep an eye out for endangered species like the Lammergeier. Additionally, keep an eye out for the African goshawk, the cinnamon-chested bee eater, and the African blue fly-catcher.
Game drives and wildlife viewing
The Mount Elgon National Park is a fantastic location to see wildlife. To get visitors to the ideal spot to watch the animals, game drives are scheduled. The hyena, leopard, and duiker are among the creatures to watch out for. Numerous primates, including blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys, and buffalo, can be found in the park.
Camping is permitted at Mountain Elgon National Park and the surrounding area. For those who choose to hike to the summit of the mountain, the park officials have established camping bases along the mountain climbing pathways. Camping is not permitted close to the caldera. Travelers must carry a fuel-efficient camp stove, sleeping bags, tents, raincoats, and warm clothing. The park office in Mbale town is where you can rent tents and sleeping bags.
Rivers that emerge from the mountain’s summit run over cliffs to create stunning cascades. The area’s most beautiful waterfalls are the Sipi Falls. Just before the Forest Exploration Centre is where these lovely falls may be found. Hiking through the local farmlands and hamlet residences is necessary to reach the falls. There are high-quality hotels and lodges in the locations near the falls. Other waterfalls besides the Sipi Falls may be found in Bulago, Chebonet, Sisyi, and Wanale.
Mountain/rainbow trout are known to inhabit Sipi Falls and Mount Elgon. Anglers are fascinated by these fish because of their stunning coloring and fascinating behavior when captured. The fish are captured and returned to the water in the Sipi region. The activity must begin in the morning for the greatest likelihood of success. Anglers must have their own fishing license and equipment. Lunch and water are additional carrying essentials.
One of the well-liked activities that can be planned outside Mount Elgon National Park is rock climbing. Rock climbing is especially feasible near Sipi Falls. In the Sipi region, a rise of roughly 35 meters is the most difficult. The closest town, Tororo, has a stunning rock right next to the town center, so hikers can easily drive there. Tororo Rock requires roughly three hours to climb. Beautiful views of the town below, the villages, and Mount Elgon are the reward for climbing to the top.
When Should You Visit Mount Elgon National Park?
Even though Mount Elgon is reachable all year round, we advise going between the drier months of June to August and November to March. If you go there in November or December, you can view its lovely wildflowers in bloom. In contrast, Mount Elgon’s trails are slicker during the rainier seasons, which can make hiking more difficult. You will always be surrounded by magnificent vistas when you visit.
Accessing /Getting to Mount Elgon National Park
Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park about 230 kilometers separate Mount Elgon from Kampala city. The tarmac roads are well-paved, but on the Kampala to Jinja expressway, traffic congestion is a concern. The journey from Kampala to Mbale town via the towns of Jinja and Iganga takes 4 to 5 hours. The opportunity to pause and visit spectacular locations, such as the source of the Nile River and Mabira Forest, is provided by traveling by road.
One needs to drive to the park headquarters outside of Mbale town or proceed directly to the closest mountain climbing starting site in Budadiri from Mbale town. Visitors can rent a car or take public transportation to go to the park, but it is more convenient to make travel arrangements with a reputable tour operator.
Visitors who prefer shorter flights have the option of scheduling one from Entebbe International Airport to Soroti Airfield near Mount Elgon. To get to Kapchorwa or Mbale town, one would have to drive for around an hour from the airfield.
Accommodations/Where to Stay at Mount Elgon National Park
It is possible to reserve lodging options both inside and outside the park. The majority of hotels provide a mix of opulent, moderately priced, and inexpensive rooms. The Sipi Falls region, Kapchorwa town, and Mbale town are where you will find the opulent hotel amenities. Some of accommodations in Mount Elgon national park includes;
Mount Elgon Hotel and Spa
This budget hotel, which is situated in Mbale’s suburbs, was once a colonial structure that was converted in the 1950s. The Mount Elgon Hotel offers junior rooms, superior rooms, and executive suites as its three different lodging options. The Executive Suites have housed various VIP guests, including politicians and members of royal families.
You can choose to relax at the spa, the mini-gym, or the restaurant after a strenuous day of hiking. Even better, you may reserve a custom drinking experience that includes a cocktail and wine tasting.
This inexpensive lodging, which is located at Mount Elgon National Park’s entrance, was initially constructed as a base for students traveling to the dense forest. Travelers have a choice of four cottages or four station tents, both of which are functional but comfortable accommodations.
Hotel Mbale Resort
This upscale hotel is situated next to Mount Elgon, 2 kilometers from the heart of Mbale. One can enjoy breathtaking views of Wanale Hill and Mount Elgon from any of the 94 hotel rooms. The hotel includes a sizable parking lot and lovely gardens with palm trees. A restaurant, a sizable pool, a bar, a gym, and a sauna are also available.
Along Masaba Road is where you can find the Kayegi Hotel, which has moderately priced accommodations. The accommodations and services are of high quality despite the reasonable cost. Government and non-government organizations frequently host retreats, seminars, and workshops at the hotel. The hotel features 25 self-contained resident rooms, each of which is surrounded by lovely grounds. A spacious parking lot, a bar, a restaurant, conference rooms, and free wireless internet are all present.