Mountain Elgon National Park

Mountain Elgon is situated in the eastern part of Uganda along the border between Uganda and Kenya. The park is just few kilometers away from Mbale town, sits on 430 square miles and the largest part is in Uganda which covers the extinct volcanic mountain. It was gazzetted as a national park in 1992 getting its name from mountain Elgon a prominent physical feature in the park. Mountain Elgon is the second highest mountain in Uganda after mountain Rwenzori and was formed as a result of Vulcanicity. It is among the best hiking destinations in Uganda. Mountain Elgon is ranked among the oldest features Uganda has and is said to have erupted 24 million years ago. It has been affected by severe soil erosion for over decades of years reducing the height to 4,321 meters. It’s now the 4th highest mountain in east Africa after Mt.kilimanjaro of Tanzania.

Location of mountain Elgon National Park

The park is located approximately 235 kilometers away from the capital city of Uganda which is Kampala in the eastern region. You have to drive for 4 to 5 hours through the adventure city “Jinja” passing through the source of the River Nile. It is good and tarmacked road from Kampala city to Kapchorwa. The park has 4 high peaks which are shared are shared among the two east African countries. Its highest peak is called the Wagagai peak which is 4321 meters high and is found in Uganda. In Kenya you can find the kiongo peak at 4303 meters, Jackson’s summit which is 4165 meters high and Mubiyi which stands at 4210 meters high. There are local tribes living around the mountain and are known as the Bagishu and the sabiny of Kenya.

Activities in Mountain Elgon National Park   

Birding

Mountain Elgon is also known as the birders haven since it hosts over 299 bird species recorded. It has 12 endemic bird species and they include Moorland Francolin, Mustached green tinker birds, black-collared Apalis, Jackson’s Francolin, Hunters Cisticola, Wyn’s weaver, Alpine Chat among others. Other common bird species include the Tacazze sunbird, Hartlaub’sturaco, Lammergier vultures, Black-shouldered kite, and White-starred forest robin among the rest.

Hiking

This is the main tourism activity carried out in mountain Elgon National Park. It has 4 hiking trails and they include the following sauma, sipi, sasa and the piswa trails. All these hiking trails take you up to the Wagagai peak and some trails take you up to sipi falls. You have to be physically fit so that to go for hiking. Hiking takes between 4 to 7 days depending on the trail you take.

 

Forest and nature walks

Mountain Elgon receives heavy rains which favors the growth of thick forest plus other vegetation types which make forest and nature walks rewarding. You can visit the caves, encounter a large number of stunning wildlife and encounter countless colorful birds. While passing through the Moor lands in the upper slopes of the mountain, you can view the thrilling scenic landscape plus the undiscovered wilderness.

Game drive

The park is a perfect destination for wildlife viewing and game drive. You can go to the best places and view animals during your game drive safari and the animals include leopards, hyenas, and duikers among the rest. There are also various primates which include the colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, buffaloes mention but a few.

game drive

Attractions in Mountain Elgon National Park

Mt Elgon

Mountain Elgon is the main attraction in this park. It was named after this volcanic mountain which is situated at the center of the park. The mountain covers almost ¾ of the park and is the 4th highest mountain in east Africa and the 8th in Africa. You can get into this park through the Uganda side after getting an entry permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority or from the Kenya side after getting the entry permit from Kenya Wildlife Service. You can hike this mountain for 3 to 5 days depending on the physical fitness of the individual.

Birds

The park has different vegetation which create different habitants for various bird species. It is a home to over 299 bird species with 12 being endemic and cannot be seen elsewhere in other parks. Those which are endemic include the Alpine chat, red-throated wryneck, black-collared Apalis, mustached green tinker bird, Jackson’s Francolin and many others. Other common bird’s species include black shouldered kite, eastern bronze-napped pigeon, hartlaub’s turaco, white-stared forest robin mention but a few.

Flora

Mountain Elgon is gifted with different plant life species. Its slope supports more diversity of altitudinal kind of vegetation which ranges from montane to dotted Moorland vegetation. It has a thick shrub with eye catching flowers which attract more sight viewing visitors to mountain Elgon National Park.

Sipi falls

The sipi falls is among the main tourist attractions in mountain Elgon National Park. Sipi falls were formed when river sipi met with the end of the volcanic rock at the edge of the spectacular tutum cave which is hidden in the middle of the extensive forest. If you visit mountain Elgon minus reaching the sipi falls then you whole safari seems to be incomplete.

Bagishu cultures

The Bagishu people are locally known as the Bamasaba.  They live around the town of Mbale and have their unique culture. The Bamasaba have their circumcision ceremonies which are done every after two years in their region and the dance they dance is locally known as the “Imbalu” and is more spiritual. They dance the mbalu while escorting the youths to the circumcision ground to be circumcised. You can be smeared with ash, dust, soil plus other local herbs and make you dance up to the circumcision ground while naked passing through the towns of Mbale district. After circumcision they refer to you as a full and grown up man in the region where by you can seat with the elders on the same table.

Getting to mountain Elgon National Park

It is approximately 235 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda to mountain Elgon National Park. You can use the tarmac road which passes through Jinja to Mbale city in the eastern part of Uganda, then you proceed to the park through Kapchorwa. The journey by road offers you a great chance to stop and watch amazing places like the source of River Nile and Mabira Forest. You can hire a car or use public means of transport and get to the park but most conveniently is to organize your travel with the travel company. Alternatively you can decide to just fly to the park through the use of chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Soroti airfield then travel for one hour to mountain Elgon National Park.

Accommodation in Mountain Elgon National Park

Here they provide you with a combination of luxurious, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities. The accommodation facilities are found both inside and outside the park. You can locate luxurious facilities at around Mbale town, sipi falls area and in Kapchorwa town. The lodges include Mbale resort hotel, mountain Elgon hotel and spa, Noah’s ark hotel, kayegi hotel among others. All these lodges are affordable with quality rooms and services. They have conference areas, a restaurant, bar and ample parking areas plus free wireless internet.

Best time to visit Mountain Elgon National Park

The park can be visited all year round but mostly in the dry season though some seasons can give you better experiences than the other. You can visit the park in the dry months of June to August and December to march though climbing the mountain is done all year round. There is moist moderate climate during the dry season and it receives an average amount of rainfall of 3000mm annually

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