Mount Elgon National Park
Mt. Elgon is a dormant volcano that exploded around 20 million years ago. It boasts the world’s biggest complete Caldera, spanning 40km2. It was originally Africa’s tallest peak, but erosion lowered its height to 4321m, making it the fourth highest in East Africa. Mt Elgon has the world’s biggest base at 3840km2. It is also East Africa’s biggest isolated volcanic peak, located in Eastern Uganda near the Kenyan border. Mt Elgon National Park spans 1145 square kilometers.
The national park has been designated as a UNESCO Man and Nature Reserve. Mountain trekking to the caldera is the primary tourist attraction, with the highest peaks being Wagagai at 4321m, Sudek at 4303m, Koitobos at 4222m, and Mubiyi at 4210m.
Mount Elgon National Park is teeming with animals. Elephants, buffalo, and a variety of tiny antelope live on Mount Elgon’s lower slopes. Primates such as the black-and-white colobus monkey and the blue monkey can be found in the deep highland forest. The park also has around 300 bird species, including the Tacazze sunbird and the lammergeier.
Defassa waterbuck, Elephants, Oribi, Bushbucks, Buffaloes, and Spotted Hyena, as well as black-and-white monkeys and Colobus monkeys, are mostly present on the lower elevations but are rarely observed in the forest environment.
Mt Elgon National Park is home to 296 bird species and 40 Ugandan species with restricted ranges, such the black collared Apalis, Jackson’s Francolin, Lammergeyer, Black-shouldered Kite, and Tacazze sunbird. Mt Elgon should go on your bucket list if you want to see rare birds and magnificent landscapes.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority built mountain bike paths in 2012. Sipi River Lodge offers bike rentals. A one-and-a-half-hour trek leads from Sipi Trading Centre at an elevation of 1,775m to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa.
First of Mount Elgon’s main draws are its hiking routes. Unlike other climbs in East Africa, Mount Elgon’s routes are open all year and do not require any particular climbing gear.
The hiking routes on Mount Elgon are less crowded than other hiking trails in East Africa, letting you appreciate the spectacular view without interruptions. The three primary hiking paths on Mount Elgon differ in distance and complexity.
- The hiking trails
The Sasa Trail is the shorter but most difficult trail, lasting four days complete trip. This is the traditional path up Mount Elgon’s 4,321m peak, Wagagai. The path begins at an elevation of 1,250 meters in the town of Budadiri in Uganda’s Eastern Region. The first day begins with a 1,650m rise. The trail then enters the forest, leading to the Mudangi Cliffs, which are reached via ladders. Then there’s a 2.5-hour trek through a beautiful bamboo forest. Day 2 is a milder hike, while Day 3 brings you to Wagagai.
The Piswa Trail is indeed a longer (but less challenging) alternative to the Sasa Trail. Over the course of seven days, you will travel approximately 49 kilometers. The path begins at an elevation of 2,190 meters near the settlement of Kapkwata on the mountain’s north flank. The trail is well-known for its spectacular scenery of the Karamoja Plains in Uganda and the Kapeguria and Nandi Hills in Kenya.
The Sipi Path: The longest trail is 56 kilometers long and requires 4-6 days to complete. The walk starts at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, which is located just a few kilometers from Sipi Falls. The portion via Tatum Cave, noted for its ancient cave paintings, is one of its attractions.
Day Hikes: The Forest Exploration Centre has created three shorter paths ranging in length from 3 to 7 kilometers. These routes are ideal for inexperienced hikers and visitors who wish to enjoy Mount Elgon’s stunning beauty and animals in a short amount of time.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 bird species and has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Bird aficionados should keep an eye out for threatened animals such as the lammergeier.
Keep an eye out for the African blue fly-catcher, African goshawk, and cinnamon-chested bee eater.
Birding watching at Mt Elgon National Park can provide you with several endemic species. The most frequent path is one in the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Center that extends down the Chebonet River. The white-chinned Prinia, Luhders and Doherty’s Bush-shrikes, Chubb’s Cisticola, African Goshawk, African Blue Flycatcher, and Baglafetcht weaver are all common here.
This exhilarating activity takes place on one of the Sipi Falls’ cliffs. You descend 100 meters, passing close to a pool of water from one of the Sipi falls. As you abseil down the rock, take a swim in the pool prior to actually going back up the cliff to the top of the hill to take in the diverse landscape.
Sport fishing is available at the maximum height of the Sipi Falls, which will keep you entertained while a few residents accompany you. Those fascinated in rainbow trout will find it a nice challenge. Bring your own equipment and get a permission from Sipi River Lodge.
Mt Elgon’s slopes, like other mountains, include caverns left by flowing lava once the peak was constructed many years ago. On Wanale Ridge, the most accessible are Kapkwai cave and Khauka cave. Hikers used the caverns for refuge, and they are now used as camp sites.
Mt Elgon’s beautiful and verdant terrain produces the greatest coffee in Uganda. Take a guided stroll through the coffee shambas on the slopes of Mt Elgon to learn about the full coffee process. You will visit shambas and households to observe coffee planting, harvesting, processing, storing, and washing. The Arabic coffee served here is also referred to as Sipi or Bugisu coffee.
Rock climbing is yet another enjoyable sport outside of Mt Elgon National Park. This takes place at Sipi and includes 14 climbs using rock-scaling methods. The hardest climb is 35m, while the easiest is 15m – anybody really intrigued in rock climbing should probably attempt it.
The distance between Kampala and Mount Elgon National Park is approximately 235 kilometers.
The first stage is on a paved road from Jinja to Mbale, a city in Uganda’s Eastern Region. The route then ascends to Kapchorwa, located on Mount Elgon’s northwestern flank.
The second portion of the trek takes you on unpaved roads off the Mbale-Kapchorwa route to the numerous trailheads.
Sipi River Lodge
Casa Sipi River Lodge
Mount elgon hotel and spa