Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park is located on the border between Uganda and Kenya, it protects Mount Elgon, a 4321m extinct volcano and is 1145 km2
One of East Africa’s oldest natural formations, Mount Elgon initially erupted some 20 million years ago. The route up the mountain goes through peculiar altitudinal vegetation zones that are only found on the tallest mountains in Eastern Africa. When traveling through the arid Karamoja to or from Kidepo Valley National Park, Mount Elgon’s cool slopes and dramatic, waterfall-strewn cliffs provide for the perfect getaway. Eastern Uganda’s Mount Elgon, standing at 4321 meters high, is home to the 1,145 km2 Mount Elgon National Park.
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston is partially set in the park. The book also takes place in Kitum Cave. The famous book “King Solomon’s Mines” by Henry Rider Haggard may have been influenced by the Mt. Elgon Caves. Wikipedia
The border with Kenya bisects the mountain and national parks in both countries to protect the flora and fauna on the higher contours. This transboundary conservation area has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve. A massive, extinct volcano, 80km in diameter, Mount Elgon once stood far higher than Kilimanjaro’s current 5900m.
Its height was reduced when an unusually violent eruption emptied the volcano’s magma reservoir and the cone, no longer supported by underlying molten rock, collapsed inwards. Even so, Mount Elgon still rises 3000m above the hot dusty plains of Karamoja to provide a cool respite for humans and a refuge for flora and fauna.
A vital local water catchment is also represented by the protected woodland. Different levels of ambition are catered for in the mountain’s tourist activities. Visitors can take day or half-day excursions in the forest on the lower border of the park, go on lengthy, at least 3-day climbs to the peaks, or simply unwind in resorts with views of lovely waterfalls at Sipi, which is just outside the park.
Wildlife in Mount Elgon National Park
Although they are rarely observed, large mammals like elephants and buffalo can be found in the forests of Mount Elgon. Over 300 species of birds, including the endangered lammergeyer Chubb’s cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Goshawk, African blue flycatcher, black collared Apalis, Jacksons Francolin, and Tacazze sunbird can be found in Mount Elgon National Park.
THE LOCAL PEOPLE
The Bagisu and the Sabiny are two tribes that live atop Mount Elgon. The colorful Imbalu ritual, which takes place every two years and marks the circumcision of boys as they are introduced into manhood by the Bagisu people who inhabit Mount Elgon’s southern and western slopes, is well-known. Mount Elgon is referred to as Masaba by the Bagisu, also known as the Bamasaba, who believe it to be a representation of their founding father.
WHEN TO VISIT
Mount Elgon can be climbed all year round through the dry seasons between June-August and December-March are most enjoyable.
UWA provides budget accommodation facilities at the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwai. Comfortable budget and mid-range resorts are found at Sipi town, 13km from Kapkwai while Mbale town offers a wide choice of hotels.