Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park in eastern Uganda was named after the 4321 meters-tall extinct Mount Elgon nestled on the Uganda-Kenya border.
Extending for approximately 1121 square kilometers, Mount Elgon National Park is the fourth largest park in Uganda and with a volcanic base of 4000 square kilometers, the Mountain is believed to have the largest volcanic base in the whole World.
Mountain Elgon National Park was gazetted in 1992 although the Mountain is still a home to two unique tribes-the Bamasaba and the Sabiny who is known for the exciting Imbalu traditional-public circumcision ceremony.
Flora and Fauna of Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park is popular for its unique mountain biodiversity ranging from the montane forest on the lowlands to the high open moorland with groundsel and giant lobelia on the high altitude areas.
It’s therefore obvious that change in altitude influences change on vegetation as well. The different plant species in Mount Elgon National Park are Elgon olive trees, podocarpus gracilior, pillar wood cassipourea, giant podocarpus and many others.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to several interesting wildlife species that include Defassa waterbucks, elephants, buffaloes, duikers, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, spotted hyenas, squirrels, red-tailed monkeys, and many others.
When you talk birding, Mount Elgon National Park is a birding paradise with over 300 outstanding species of birds including;
the endangered Lammergeyer, Jackson’s spurfowl, Tacazze sunbirds, eastern-bronze-naped pigeon, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, red-throated wryneck, White-browed Crombec, Jackson francolin, Northern anteater chat, Bronze-naped pigeon, mountain yellow warblers, Little Rock thrush, and many others.
Tourist activities to enjoy in Mount Elgon National Park
Mountain climbing is the main, if not sole reason why most tourists visit Mount Elgon National Park and several trails were designated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
These trails lead hikers/climbers to the different peaks of the Mountain and they include Pisa, Sasa and Sipi Trails, each lasting different hours and presenting different challenges.
Nature walks from different parts of the Elgon Mountain including Budadiri lead to some of the magnificent attractions of the Mountain that include Mudange cliffs dubbed the walls of death, Tower Hill and many other wonderful sites.
There are a number of mountain biking trails running from the Sipi Trading Center to different parts of the Mountain including the Town of Kapchorwa lasting from one hour to two hours and rewarding bikers with the vires of the spectacular waterfalls as well as the vast Kapchorwa plains.
Mount Elgon National Park offers wonderful birding opportunities leading to the secondary forest, Kapkwai Exploration Center as well as the thick shrub with sights and sounds of Tacazze sunbirds, African Goshawk, Moustached Tinkerbird, African blue flycatcher, black kites, Chinspot Batis, Black-collared Apalis, Cinnamon bee-eater, and White-chinned Prinia among others.
Cultural tours around Mount Elgon National Park involve coffee tours, farming demonstrations, and basket weaving demonstrations among others.
A visit to Budadiri Community walks and Sipi Widows Group guarantees tourists learning how to prepare the traditional cuisine of the region (Malewa), witness the Imbalu ceremony if visited at the eight season, coffee farm tours, basket weaving, being entertained in traditional dances and folklore among others.
Rock climbing around Mount Elgon National Park is one of the toughest and physically demanding activities in the area with over 14 routes/trails between 15 and 35m.
Other rare yet interesting tourist activities in Mount Elgon National Park are trout fishing, visiting the Abayuda Jews of Uganda, touring Nyero Rock Paintings and many others.
Where to stay Mountain Elgon National Park
The accommodation facilities in and around Mount Elgon National Park are Kayegi hotel, Mount Elgon View Hotel, Mbale Resort Hotel, Masha Hotel, Rose’s Last Chance, Noah’s Ark Hotel, Sipi River Lodge, Twilight Campsite, Sipi Falls Resort, Lacam Lodge, Mount Elgon Hotel and Spa, Crow’s Nest Rest Camp, Kapkwata Guesthouse, Wash and Will’s Country Home, Suam Guesthouse, Sasa River Camp, Savannah Guesthouse and many others.
Best time to visit Mount Elgon
Mount Elgon National Park is open for tourism all year round although the most ideal time for visiting is the dry season-June to September and December to February, the reason being the road to and within the Park are relatively drier hence making movement easier.
The wet months are associated with muddy and slippery trails that make most tourist activities difficult.
How to get there
Mountain Elgon National Park in Eastern Uganda is about 235 kilometers East of Kampala and can be accessed through the Kampala-Jinja-Iganga-Mbale-Kapchorwa road leading to the different trailheads.