Mount Elgon National Park, Located in Eastern region of the country and Straddling the Ugandan border with Kenya at 4,000km², Mt. Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world as well as the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. The width of this spectacular mountain is close to 80km whereas it rises more than 3,000m high. The slopes of mountain Elgon are would be sighted easily but they buried under a blanket of mist and drizzle most of the time. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna including among others rock and tree hyraxes, elephants, buffalos, Defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hog, bush pig, leopard, civet and serval cats, serval cats, spotted hyena; aardvark and several rodent species. However, these animals are rarely observed in the forest setting. Most commonly seen creatures are the black-and-white colobus; baboons; red tailed, vervet, De Brazza’s and blue monkeys; duiker and tree squirrel.
The park harbors close to 300 bird species including the endangered Lammergeyer, about 40 Elgon restricted range bird species including the Jackson’s Francolin and Black-collared Apalis. Among those limited to just a few mountains in eastern Uganda are the Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze Sunbird. 56 of the 87 Afrotropical highland biome species live here, notably the Moorland Francolin, Mustached Green Tinkerbird and Alpine Chat. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, creating an extensive trans-boundary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve also a water source for the Lake Victoria basin
A climb on Mt. Elgon’s deserted moorlands entails magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains: the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt. Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km² caldera.
Mt. Elgon is an intoxicating alternative to the more strenuous hikes in the rest of East Africa. Its trouble free access year round, less congested with quite a good number of attractions, with a compassionate climate and bottommost elevation makes it the best hiking alternative to a flock of visitors. Climbing the peaks requires no special equipment and or even technical experience. There are several trekking trails around Mount Elgon, all open to everybody as this is not a difficult mountain to climb Sasa trail being the shortest but toughest route to the peaks, traversing the community land and allowing you to explore Ba Masaba farming settlements and culture. The round trip takes 4 days and starts at Budadiri town at an elevation of 1,250m. Sipi trail takes a duration of 4-6 days with 56km round trip and starts at 2,050m at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre. Piswa trail is a 7 days’ hike, and 49km long and the gentlest trail starting at the village of Kapkwata on the north side of the mountain, it traverses the soft wood plantation to the Podocarpus forest. It is notable for its rich wildlife and spectacular views of the Karamoja plains in Uganda and the Nandi and Kapeguria hills in Kenya as well as passing via the hot springs on the way to the caldera and the peaks.
Rock climbing takes place outside the park at Sipi. There are 14 climbs requiring various levels of rock scaling techniques, and all equipment can be hired from the Sipi Falls Tourist Guides Association. The toughest is a 35m climb while the easiest is 15m. Both command a picturesque view of the main falls and the Karamoja plains.
Mountain Elgon offers exclusive and excellent birding opportunities most especially around Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centrein particular in the secondary forest and thick shrub along the loop trails extended to cover Cheptui Falls. It supports the African Goshawk; Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catcher, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders Bush-shrikes, Baglafecht Weaver, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Olive- and Bronze-naped pigeons, Black Kite and Black-collared Apalis. This is a true birder’s paradise that should not be missed when on a birding safari to Uganda or even Africa.
Enjoy views of Sipi Falls, the Walls of Death and the African sunrise across the Karamoja plains on these trouble free walks are placed just outside Mt Elgon National Park and conducted by guides from the local community can organize walks of a few hours up to a full day around local viewpoints. In Kapchorwa, a 20-minute Sunrise Trek at 6am from Noah’s Ark Hotel leads to the nearby Tewei Hill to watch dawn spreading across the vast Karamoja plains at the base of the mountain.
Mount Elgon provides a 7km, 4hrs hike mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave passes through tropical and bamboo forest. Along the trail are many primates, birds and rare trees such as Elgon teak and Elgon olive. The 5km walk to the Chebonet Falls and 3km walk to the Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail. There is also an 11km hike to the Tutum Cave, with the option of camping overnight beside the cave.
A full-day nature hike leads from Budadiri to the Mudange cliffs, known as the Walls of Death, at the boundary of the national park. These cliffs are located in the tropical forest, and blue monkeys, black-and-white colobus and baboons are likely to cross your tracks.
Discover and explore your coffee; Grown on the shambas of Mt Elgon, Arabica coffee also named Sipi or Bugisu coffee by the local farmers possessing a prominent reputation for producing some of the finest washed Arabica in Uganda. The Sipi Widows’ Group will take you on a guided walk through the coffee plantation demonstrating how to plant, pick, grind, store and wash the coffee.
You will also learn about life of the Sabiny in the homestead visit as you meet local residents, and participate in traditional weaving. Learn about African cuisine through the preparation, cooking and tasting of local dishes.
The mountain biking trail runs from Sipi trading centre to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa town. It takes around 1.5 hours and avails stunning and astonishing views of various waterfalls and the Karamoja plains. Bikes can be hired from Sipi River Lodge.
Mount Elgon National Park lies 235km east of Kampala. A tarmac road runs through Jinja home to the source of the river Nile, meandering through Iganga to Mbale town at the western base of Mount Elgon, before ascending to Kapchorwa on the mountain’s north-western flank. Dirt roads lead off the Mbale-Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.
Mountain Elgon national park is delighted with quite a good number of lodging choices that provide good services to clients in and around the towns adjacent to it. Theseinclude; Mbale resort hotel, Mountain Elgon Hotel, Sipi falls lodge, Lacam lodge, Sipiriver lodge, Saum guest house, Kapkwata guest house, Mash hotel, Noah’s ark hotel, Savannah guest house, to mention but a few.