Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon national park majestically covers an area of 1,279 square kilometers and is bisected by the two bordering countries Uganda and Kenya in the misty hills of the western part and in the eastern region of Uganda. Still, it lies a distance of 140 kilometers northeast of Lake Victoria the largest lake in Africa. Note the park covers with a large piece of land but the biggest part of it, it’s on Uganda’s side that covers 1,110 square while the Kenyan part covers 169 square kilometers. The Mountain’s highest peak in found on Uganda’s side and is called Waggai peak. The national park comprises of a charming volcanic mountain crowned with a vast caldera as well as other features that include glacial tarns, valleys and streams. This national park is managed by both Uganda wildlife Authority and Kenya wildlife Service making it a safe place to visit on your next move in to African safaris.
The park is named after the iconic Mount Elgon as an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya.
Interestingly, Mount Elgon acts as highlight attraction on African safaris, this is because it ranks the 8th highest mountain in Africa. Travelers who visited Mount Elgon national park on their climbing experience adventure find Mount Elgon a less strenuous climb as compared to other mountains due to its milder climate and being at lower elevation which does not require special equipment for the climber.
The park slit down in the middle by the Kenya and Uganda border, more so on Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Nzoria River in Kenya that flows to Lake Victoria and for the Turkwel River then flows into lake Turkana. The water catchment act as water supplies to many regions around.
The vegetation in Mount Elgon national park varies with altitude and characterized by tropical montane forest, open moorland which unveils admirable and rewardable wilderness.
Trekkers during their hikes in Mount Elgon national park get to enjoy with impressive views of cliffs, gorges, caves and stunning waterfalls and end up with memorable experience in life time.
The park’s climate is moist to moderate dry seasons. And it receives annual temperature rainfall of over 1,270 millimeters above the sea level. The dry seasons occurs from June to August and from December to March, although it can rain at any time of the day.
Attractions in Mount Elgon National Park
There are several attractions which can be encountered by the tourists on their visit to the park as include;
Mount Elgon sounds as the oldest volcanic mountain in East Africa with scenic vegetation that adjacent to the caldera. This is the major tourist attraction in the park where different tourist activities can be done such as hiking and mountain climbing. The park is surrounded by the local people who live along the slopes of this mountain known as Masaba in reference to the belief by the Bagisu whom their ancestors came from one of the caves on the slopes of this mountain. Mount Elgon is also a watershed for several rivers which include River Sipi.
This is one of the stunning attractions found within the park and it was formed by moving lava and erosion of soft volcanic deposits and most out reached cave is Kapkwai caves which can be adventured in the park. During those ancient years’ caves acted as shelters for the locals and their livestock. The old cave paintings can be viewed along the walls of the caves. As you can be adventuring the caves, you can as well come across the huge number of bats that lives along the walls of these caves.
This caldera was created as a result of magma being drained from the chamber of the mountain. And it is said to have formed a volcanic cone that later collapsed while forming the depression. This attraction can be rewarded by hikers who hike till the top of the mountain where the caldera in found.
The park boosts with diversity of wildlife species which can be explored during a safari to Mount Elgon national park such as elephants and buffalos which are easily seen on the lower slopes, endangered lammergeyer, small antelopes, duikers, ribs, waterbuck, defassa, bush pigs, civet, serval cat, aardvark, forest hogs as well as forest monkeys like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkey among other.
There are notable species of birds which can be sighted by the birders such species include Jackson’s spurt owl, eastern bronzenaped pigeon, hartlaub’s turaco, tacazze sunbird, moorland francolin, mustached green tinker bird, black collared Apalis, alpine chat mentioned few.
This attraction can be visited by tourists Enroute to Mount Elgon national park since it sits outside at the edge of the national park. At the falls is a starting point for the hikers who hikes up the mountain during their tour to Mount Elgon national park. The views of Mountain are gainful while at Sipi falls area, tourists tend to use Budadiri route which is easiest route. This falls were formed by River Sipi.
This national park is surrounded by different tribes that live at the foothills on Mount Elgon. Their unique way of life also acts as a tourist attraction. These two tribes Bagisu and Sabinyo can be found living along the slopes of Mount Elgon with interesting cultural norms such as circumcision ceremonies like Imbalu for the Bagishu who are also called the ‘’Bamasaba’ ’According to Bagishu beliefs, a person can only become adult after he or she being circumcised and is the culture sign that shows that you’re a man or a woman ‘’adulthood’ ’and such person can be respected in the society. The imbalu ceremony is quite colorful has it can be crowded by paradise of people enjoying their culture dance. This is a worth visit.
Activities in Mount Elgon National Park
Activities to engage in by the tourists during a safari to Mount Elgon national park as follows;
Mount Elgon national park boosts with quite number of unique caves to explore during your trip to the park. Cave viewing can be another option, if you’re likely not to participate in mountain climbing and hiking. Such impressive caves to view along here include Kitum cave, kapkwai cave, khauka caves. Some of these caves are salty on their walls, so it attracts some of the wildlife like elephants to lick the walls as well as bats can be seen along here.
Mountain biking is the best way to discover the scenery of the park such as water falls and park’s plains are rewarding. This biking experience is perfect along here, the biking trails run from the Sipi trading center to nearby town of Kapchorwa and bikes can be hired at the park for this experience.
The park offers different interesting trails which makes it possible to view the thrilled attractions and beautiful scenery of the park. Trails include Sasa trail, Sipi trail and Piswa trail. Another option, to enjoy park’s hiking experience is to use trans-border route which involves crossing to the Kenyan side of Mount Elgon by the company of Kenya Wildlife Service official guides and it provides great views of the park. Sasa trail is the easiest trail during the ascent of the mountain. Walking sticks can be provided at the park.
On your visit to Mount Elgon national park, you can engage in visiting the coffee plantation led by the local people in the region who are coffee farmer. These farmers will teach you on how they harvest ‘’Arabic coffee’’ from the garden and it’s their main cash crop.
Mount Elgon national park offers perfect birding opportunities in different positions such as Kapkwai forest which is a secondary forest with thick shrub and species of birds to be sighted include African blue flycatcher, African goshawk, Chubbs cisticola, white chinned prinia among others.
This is best way of viewing the park’s hidden treasures that allows tourists to see different unique attractions within the park. The park’s vegetation is rewarding and along nature walk primates can be seen such as blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons.
From East of Kampala the main city of Uganda via Kampala –jinja road –Mbale route takes 235 kilometers to access the park.
Where to stay
Mount Elgon national park has got perfect accommodation facilities with en-suite in room amenities such lodges ranges from Luxury safari accommodation, Midrange safari accommodation and Budget safari accommodation all offering safety, comfort and good relaxation to visitors.
Luxury safari accommodation; Mbale Resort
Midrange safari accommodation; Miunt Elgon guest house, Sipi river lodge, Noah’s Ark Hotel.
Budget safari accommodation; Savannah guesthouse, Eastern palace hotel.
Camping sites are available within the park with about 9 campsites which are alternative accommodation. Travelers are advised to carry their relevant coming equipment during their visit to this safari destination.
Come adventure into the terrains of Mount Elgon and get rewarded by thunderous waterfalls and unique cultural ceremony on the earth for an exclusive trans-border safari between Uganda and Kenya ‘’Mount Elgon National Park’’.