Mount Elgon National park

Mount Elgon National Park.

Mount Elgon National Park: Mount Elgon National Park is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve located on the Uganda-Kenya border. The park has a total size of 494 square miles. The park’s largest area 430 square miles is on the Ugandan side of the border. In 1992, the Ugandan part was upgraded from a forest reserve to a national park. Mount Elgon, a notable physical feature in the park, inspired the park’s name. Mount Elgon is a dormant volcano that erupted about 24 million years ago. It is the tallest volcanic peak in East Africa and Africa’s eighth highest mountain.

Mount Elgon features the world’s biggest caldera, which is approximately 60 kilometres long and 40 km broad. This Caldera formed as a consequence of magma being drained from the bottom, causing the cone to collapse. Scientists think that Mount Elgon was formerly Africa’s tallest peak until millions of years of erosion decreased its height significantly.

Mount Elgon’s lush slopes support a diverse range of flora that changes with height. They comprise montane forests in the lower elevations, bamboo forests in the upper elevations, and alpine moorlands towards the peak. Over 400 plant species and 143 bird species have been identified.

Mount Elgon National Park is home to half of Uganda’s butterfly species, including the rare Maathai’s Lonleg dragonfly, which was discovered in 2000. The lower slopes of the highlands are home to a diverse range of species, including black-and-white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, buffalos, elephants, red-tailed monkeys, spotted hyenas, Oribi, Defassa waterbuck, Bushbucks, and lesser antelopes.

The Sabiny and Bagisu are the two primary tribes on the Ugandan side of the park. Subsistence farming is the primary source of income for these tribes. The Bagisu have specialized in the cultivation of Arabica coffee, which thrives in the lush soils of the mountains’ lower slopes. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, in collaboration with Kenyan colleagues, protects and manages the higher slopes of the highlands. The Mountain Elgon National Park headquarters is located in Mbale town on Masaba Road. This is where visitors may get information or get permits for park-related activities. Permits for activities in Mountain Elgon National Park are also issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala.

Attractions in Mount Elgon National Park.

Mountain Elgon National Park, like the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda, is more renowned for mountain climbing and ecological hikes. Aside from the summit, ascending Mount Elgon allows you to explore a vast caldera, caves, cliffs, gorges, hot springs, mesas, and waterfalls. Mount Elgon National Park is home to a thriving population of big species such as elephants, buffaloes, and monkeys. Tourists visit the park for a variety of reasons, including game viewing, nature hikes, bird watching, cave exploring, and camping. Activities may be organized both inside and beyond the park, to areas like as Sipi Falls and Kapchorwa’s wildlife reserves.

Activities offered at Mount Elgon National Park.

Hike Mount Elgon.

Climbing Mount Elgon provides benefits over climbing the Rwenzori Mountains or Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It is less costly, less hard, and has comfortable temperatures even at the peak. The most unusual aspect of ascending Mount Elgon is not reaching the Wagagai top, but rather descending from the mountain to see the world’s biggest caldera.

Mount Elgon may be climbed in 4 to 6 days, depending on the route taken. The Salsa Trail, Pisa Trail, and Sipi Trail are the three primary starting sites. The Salsa path, also known as the Buddukiro trailhead, is a shorter but steeper path. It begins near Mbale town and takes only four days to reach the summit. Despite being the most direct path, it passes through the park’s heaviest bamboo forest.  The Pisa path, also known as the Kapkwata trailhead, is the second. This trek begins in a woodland near Kapkwata and winds through magnificent Podocarpus trees. The third trail is the Sipi Trail which begins from the Kapkwai forest exploration center. It takes between 4 to 6 days to reach the peak through the Sipi trail.

In order to see the best of everything and see more of the mountain features, hikers can ascend via the Sipi Trail and descend using the Salsa trail. More adventurous hikers may start from the Ugandan side and descend at the Kenyan side. Hikers who choose to end their hike in Kenya need paperwork to cross the border.  The migration office in Mbale can help with acquiring the border crossing papers is required by their colleagues in the Kenyan side.

Cave Explorations.

Those who do not like to walk all the way up to the mountain summit can request shorter day treks or explore some of the countless caverns on the mountain’s slopes.  Chepnyali, Mackingeny, and Kitum are the three most frequented caverns. These caverns attract park creatures like as elephants and antelopes, who come to lick the salt off the walls.

There are additional old caverns containing paintings from thousands of years ago, such as those found at Budadiri. The Khauka and Kapkwai caves in Wanale are popular with visitors due to their unique structure and abundance of bats that generate manure from their droppings. The locals and their domestic animals used these caverns for refuge. The Nyero Rock Painting Caves, located outside of Mbale town, are well worth seeing. These caverns were once home to the earliest people who roamed the world. They left their imprint with incredible artworks showing life thousands of years ago.


Bird viewing at Mount Elgon National Park entails spotting species that are not found anywhere else. Birds may be seen in a variety of locations, including the park’s dense bushes, the Cheptui waterfall, and the Forest Exploration Centre in Kapwai. The park is home to the African Blue Fly-catchers, African Goshawk, Baglafecht Weaver, Black and White Casqued, Chin-spot Batis and the Baglafecht Weaver, black collared Apalis, Black-shouldered Kite, Chubb’s Cisticola, Crowned Hornbills, eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush-Shrikes, Golden Winged and Tacazze sunbirds, Hartlaub’s turaco, Mackinon’s Fiscal, Ross’s and Hartlaubs Turacos, White-chinned Prinia. Only Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda is home to the endangered Jackson’s Francolin and lammergeyer.

Visit Sipi Falls.

Rivers flowing from the mountain’s summit pass through rocks, generating spectacular waterfalls. The Sipi falls are the most beautiful in the vicinity. These lovely waterfall may be seen right outside the park’s entrance, before the Forest Exploration Centre. Hiking past local village homes and farmlands is required to reach the falls. The surroundings surrounding the falls feature high-quality hotels and cottages. Other waterfalls may be seen in Bulago, Chebonet, Sisyi, and Wanale, in addition to the Sipi Falls.

When to stay during your visit to Mount Elgon National Park?

Visitors looking for lodging in the national park can stay at Suam Guesthouse, Kapkwai Bandas, Moroto Bandas, Pian-Upe Wilderness Camp and Guest House, as well as other accommodation facilities outside the park such as Masha Hotel, Sipi River Lodge, and Sasa River Camp, among others.

How to get to Mount Elgon National Park?

The distance between Kampala and Mount Elgon National Park is approximately 230 km. The roads are well-paved and asphalt, however traffic congestion is a concern on the Kampala-Jinja route. It takes between 4 and 5 hours to get from Kampala to Mbale through Jinja and Iganga. The road travel provides opportunity to stop and explore wonderful locations such as the Nile’s source and the Mabira forest. From Mbale, travel to the park headquarters outside of town or to the nearest mountain climbing starting point at Budadiri. Visitors can hire a vehicle or use public transport to the park, although booking with a reliable tour operator is more convenient.

Visitors who dislike long car trips can hire a chartered flight from Entebbe International Airport to Soroti airstrip near Mount Elgon. It would take around an hour to drive by road from the airstrip to Mbale town or Kapchorwa.


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