Mount Elgon National Park is located in the Northeast part of Lake Victoria magically bisected by the Uganda-Kenya boarder. This park which was named after Mount Elgon; an extinct shield volcano lies by 1110 square kilometres in Uganda and 169 square kilometres in Kenya. It is however worth noting that the best part of the park lies in Uganda; Wagagai – mount Elgon peak lies entirely in Uganda, the hot springs, the Sipi Falls, gorges, calderas, cliffs, caves, rock paintings and an abundant variety of flora and fauna. Mount Elgon National Park is a wonder!
The alluring attributes of Mt. Elgon
Mount Elgon 'Once Africa’s highest mountain'
Mount Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in East Africa and has the second highest peak in Uganda – Wagagai. Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano lying on the boarder of Uganda and Kenya. The mountain is believed to have the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world. And it is also believed that the Mount Elgon was once the tallest mountain in the whole of Africa until it erupted. The mountain and its surroundings are a home to four tribes; the Bagisu, Masai, Sapiinjak and Ogiek. It is also a habitat to a diversity of flora and fauna. A trek to Mount Elgon will give you a chance to interact with the locals and hear the tales of the ancient Elgon first-hand.
The 40 km crater caldera stationed on the top of the extinct Mount Elgon volcano is the source of the bewildering hot springs. The springs which bubble up to 4800c are the scars left by the violent volcanic eruptions that occurred over 24 million years ago. The hot springs are an amazing attraction that draws multitudes of curious tourists.
Located on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park, the Sipi Falls are a series of three waterfalls. The falls are a soothing and calming sight. The gentle breeze and the beautiful noise made by the aggressive waters create a memorable experience. A visit to the falls will create lasting memories of your safari to the Pearl of Africa.
Mount Elgon Caves
A safari tour to Mount Elgon National Park will give you chance to encounter the enchanting caves which are believed to have been the habitat of the first people – during the stone age. One of the intriguing things about these caves is their salted walls. It has been proved that animals; elephants and buffalos visit the caves in the night to lick and savour the natural salt buried in the cave walls. Some of the caves are; Kitum, Mackingeny, and Chepnyali, all available for exploration by curious tourists.
Ancient cave paintings
The other peculiar attraction in Mount Elgon National Park is the ancient cave paintings found near the trailhead at Budadiri. The bold and ‘resilient’ painting are souvenirs passed on to this age from the ancient stone age – when the early man was beginning to craft civilisation. The sight of the paintings is bewildering and astonishing.
Adventure & Activities
Mountain climbing is one of the exciting adventures that make Mount Elgon National Park the ideal safari destination for enthusiastic adventurers. A hike to the peak of Mount Elgon is a thrilling adventure which can take as many as 6 days depending on the trail/route you choose to take. On your hike up or down the volcano, you will encounter nature’s great wildlife; plant and animal species, with some endemic to the Elgon region.
The park has numerous birding spots which you are able to identify with the aid of an experienced and informed guide. Among the bird species to spot is; the cinnamon bee-eater, white-chinned Prinia, mackinnon’s fiscal, African blue flycatcher, Chinspot batis, tacazze sunbird, hartloub’s turaco, bronze-napped pigeons, moustached tinker bird, African goshawk, chubb’s cisticola, black kite and black-collard apalis. With over 300 bird species, the park is a haven for a bird lover.
Hiking and nature walks
The vast Mount Elgon National Park has a good number of places to go for a great walk or hike. In the company of an informed guide, you can take the mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai cave, or you can walk to the Chebonet falls. You could also hike to Tatum cave or hike to the Mudagi cliffs in Budadiri. You could also be daring enough to hike to Jackson’s summit and Wagagai peak. You will be able see many birds, primates, mammals and rare tree species like the Elgon Olive, on your way to and from the various attractions.
One of the best spots for fishing is right above the highest of the 3 Sipi waterfalls. The sport is a good pass-time for enthusiastic anglers. You find most of battling for a chance to catch the rainbow trout - most famous for its alluring colours and fighting ability. The excitement at Mount Elgon National Park is endless.
Deliberate visits to the nearby villages grants you a chance to encounter the indigenous locals. Among the probable areas to go is the Budadiri community where you can have guided walks to the coffee plantations and see how to plant, grind and store coffee – coffee is the backbone of the economy in Elgon region. You are also able to see how the day-to-day modest yet tranquillity life of the Elgon people; you could take part in the weaving, food preparation, sip at the famous ‘malewa’ bamboo shots and listen to the folklore recited by the village drama groups.