Mountain Elgon national park
Where nature walks, the sipi falls and cultural experiences abound
Mountain Elgon national park derives its name from Elgon the Mountain. This is on the border of Uganda and Kenya. In fact, the mountain has an extinct volcano on top. This erupted more than 24 million years ago. No doubt, it is the largest volcanic base in the world. At 50 km by 80 km, the mountain has the largest surface area of any dead volcano in the world.
Elgon is the second highest mountain in Uganda. The Rwenzori mountains are the highest. The lower slopes are covered in tropical montane forest with extensive bamboo. There are scenic waterfalls, caves, gorges as well as hot springs, . The caldera is on top of the mountain.
Mountain Elgon national park has vast caves. Elephants and buffaloes visit the caves. These animals come to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls. Eastwards, the Kitum cave digs over 200 m into the mountain side.
Climbing Mountain Elgon
There are four specific routes used to hike up the mountain. The Sasa trail is the oldest route to the Wagaigai peak. There is also the Sipi trail. However, this trail begins at the Forest exploration center north west of the park. It is a somewhat longer hike that needs 7 days round trip. On the other hand, the Piswa trail has a gentle ascent. This is indeed the best route for watching wildlife. But the Suam route starts at a higher level from the northern side. However, this needs only five days to reach the top.
Around the national park, there are particularly two main tribes namely the Bagisu and Sabiny.
The Sipi Falls
At the bottom of mountain Elgon, there are the beautiful sipi falls. Moreover, these are 3 level falls with one dropping 95 meters below. There are some nice nature walks. These are conducted on a network of local trails around the sipi falls.
Biodiversity of Elgon
Mountain Elgon national park is home to over 300 species of birds including the endangered lammergeier. Nonetheless, there are tropical highland species like the moorland francolin, tinker bird and alpine chat. Other birds are Jackson’s francolin, black-collared apalis, black shouldered kite and tacazze sunbird. The plant diversity of the park includes; orchids olive trees, giant podocarpus, juniper and Elgon cedar Juniperus procera and pure stands of Podocarpus gracilior. The park has Elephants, buffalo and various small antelopes. There are primates in the park like Black-and-white Colobus and Blue Monkeys. Last but not least, half of Uganda’s butterflies are in Mountain Elgon nationl park,
The size of Mountain Elgon national park: 1,121sq.km
Location of Mountain Elgon national park: Extreme east of Uganda on the border with Kenya
Accessibility of Elgon:
The route from Entebbe through Kampala, Jinja and Mbale to Kapchorwa is 280 kms. Thus you require about 5 hours.
Mountaineering and nature walks are popular. But other activities like bird watching and hiking of the sipi falls ae also favoured. Also, there are community and cultural tours. For example, the Bagisu have the circumcision ceremonies.
Accommodation around the park:
The Sipi river Lodge is of High budget). Apart from this, the Sipi falls resort is of medium budget. Alternatively, the Crow’s nest nearby is available for the low budget.