MOUNTAIN ELGON NATIONAL PARK.
Mountain Elgon is 4000km squared bordering Uganda and Kenya. Mountain Elgon has the largest volcanic base in Africa. It is one of the oldest physical features Uganda has, first erupting approximately 24 million years ago. The mountain is an extensive trans-boundary conservation area declared by the UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. It was once the highest mountain in Africa but has been reducing due to eruption and erosion that made it reduce to 4,321m and became the 4th highest in East Africa. Mountain Elgon national park harbors over 300 bird species inclusive of the lammergeyer which is endemic to the area, its home to the colobus monkeys, black and white monkeys, spotted hyena, deffassa waterbucks, buffaloes, oribi, elephants among others. One of the famous activities done at mountain Elgon national park is hiking to the caldera which has the mountain’s peak Wagagai at 4321m. Other places you can hike to are; Mubiyi which is at 4210m, Sudek at 4303m and Koitobos at 4222m.
What to do while in Mountain Elgon national park.
The mountain covers approximately a third of the park and it the main attraction. Mountain Elgon is the 8th highest in Africa with four peaks which include; Wagagai the tallest at 14,177 ft, Sudek at 4,302 ft, Koitobos at 13852ft, Mubiyi 13,816 ft and Masaba at 13,652ft. It can be hiked for four to seven days depending on your fitness and energy.
This is one of the activities tourists love to engage in while in the park. Be prepared for this activity, make sure you have no heart diseases, physically fit with no hypertensions. There are different trails you can take to explore the scenic views of the mountain. Some trails are short and can take you a few days to reach the peak, while others are long and take many days. The shortest trail is called Sasa but has the steepest route, hiking using this trail will take you four days to reach the peak, it takes you through the bamboo forest and the Jackson’s pool which found in the low land at 4165m, it’s a natural pool occupied with less water. You can use the Sipi trail which takes four to six days to hike. This trail starts from Kapkwai which has the forest exploration centre the Tutum cave. The longest trail is the Piswa route which takes seven days and more to reach the peak, the hike starts from Kapkwata podocarps forest.
Local porters are available to help you carry your luggage, water, they help in cooking and setting up campsites. Be prepared and ready to get hypothermia and other sicknesses caused by change in the altitude, above 2500m. This can affect anyone regardless of your mountain climbing experience, fitness and age.
This takes place at Sipi and requires rock-scaling techniques. The easiest route you can use is 15m and toughest which is 35m long.
This is an activity of descending a rock face near a vertical surface using a double rope coiled round your body and fixed at a high point. This is where you drop down 100m overlooking the ridge near a pool from Sipi falls. This activity is done down one of the cliffs of Sipi falls. You will be exposed to the beautiful sceneries as you abseil down to rocks. Many visitors choose to go for a short swim and splash themselves with the falls water before coming back to the top of the cliff.
Bird watch in mountain Elgon national park.
The park has over 200 bird species having unique birds you will never find anywhere else. Bird watching in the park takes place in Kapkwai forest exploration center, which goes up to Chebonet river. Expect to see birds like the Baglafetcht weaver, African blue flycatcher, African goshawk, Chubb’s cisticola, doherty’s bush shrikes, luhders, white-chinned prinia among others. The endemic birds in this region include; moorland francolin, red throated wryneck, lammergeier vultures, marsh widowbird.
What to pack for your birding experience in Uganda?
The park has the famous Sipi falls which came as a result of mountain rivers diving over cliffs, on the western and southern parts of mountain Elgon. The falls are found outside the park with the lowest falls the flows over 100m followed by Simba falls which flow at 69m and Ngasire falls.
Mountain slopes has coffee shambas planted by the locals. Guides will take you to these coffee shambas, you will see how the locals plant the coffee, pick it, grinding and the whole process coffee goes through up to when you get in on your coffee table. Arabic coffee locally called Bugishu coffee is the most planted in this region.
Mountain Elgon national park is home to two tribes on the side of Uganda. These are the Sabiny and the Bagishu also known as Bamasaba. The Bagishu people have an interesting culture, they leave in Mbale town near the park. The most interesting cultural practice of the Bagishu is the annual circumcision ceremony locally called Mbalu. The ceremony is conducted while performing the dance called Mbalu, this is performed as they escort the youths that are going to be circumcised. What is unique about this circumcision is because it is done using a knife with no anesthetics administered, they have to stand still with no sign of fear to prove their manhood.
Mountain Elgon is located in an area with a wonder full terrain for biking. Biking starts from Sipi city trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa. While biking, you will be exposed to the beautiful views of the Karamoja plains and different water falls.
The mountain has different caves that came as a result of lava. Caves found here include the Khauka cave that is located on Wanale ridge and the Kapkwai cave. Currently the caves are used as camps.
Flora and fauna.
Mountain Elgon is home to different rare flora and fauna which grows according to the change of the altitude. The slopes have plants that range from open moorland vegetation which has plants like the lobelia to the montane vegetation. These plants have beautiful flowers that make the area more attractive.
How to reach mountain Elgon national park.
The park is approximately 235km from Kampala city center. You can use a tarmac road through jinja from Kampala via mbale to kapchorwa. Chartered flights are also available from kajjansi to Soroti air strip.
Location of mount Elgon national park
Mountain Elgon national park is located in Eastern Uganda on the border of Uganda and Kenya north of Kisumu and west of Kitale. The park is situated in the districts of Bukwo, Kween, kapchorwa, Bugishu, Sironko, Bududa, Mbale, Manafwa Bulambuli and Sebei.
What to wear and pack while preparing to visit Mountain Elgon National Park.
A tour to mountain Elgon national park will reward you with great memories that will stay with you forever, to capture these moments, don’t forget to come with a camera, enough storage and good lenses, comfortable safari clothes not brightly colored, bright colors scare away animals, pack long sleeved shirts to protect your skin from being scratched by tree branches or thorns, don’t forget your scarfs and trousers. Protecting your skin from sun the is more important, don’t forget your sunscreen, a cap or a hat and sun glasses. Come along with durable water proof boots that are sturdy enough to support you on slippery trails. If you are coming for bird watching, don’t forget to come with a pair of binoculars and a birder’s guide book and if you are coming for mountain climbing, don’t forget to book with ENGAGI SAFARIS
Accommodations in mountain Elgon national park.
Accommodations range from luxury to budget accommodations
Mountain Elgon spa and hotel. This is located approximately 2km from the town center along Masaba road. The hotel amenities include; a swimming pool and a terrace, specialty coffee, conference hall, spa, mini golf and a hotel shuttle.
Sipi river lodge. Lodge is located along kapchorwa road. They have different cottages like the chepkui cottage that is good for families with a maximum of five pax occupancy, the Aniet cottage and the Kapsurur cottage.
Kayegi hotel. This is located on plot 45B Masaba road approximately 1km from the post office building. The hotel has great views of the country side.
Wash and wills Country home mbale. This is located on the Maluku Estate overlooking mountain Elgon.
Masha hotel. This is located at the western end of kapchorwa town. It offers excellent budget accommodations. They have conference facilities.
Noar’s Ark hotels and safari. This is located at the slopes of mountain Elgon toward the peak, it is overlooking the mbale town, Teso plains and Karamoja.
Wimpey hotel. The hotel has 29 rooms, they provide basic meals.
Mountain Elgon view hotel. It is located across Kumi road. It has amenities like bar, internet, restaurant.
For the best mountain Elgon tour experience, book your package with ENGAGA SAFARIS.