Nestled in Eastern Uganda, Mount Elgon National Park is bisected into two by the Uganda and Kenya border thus creating 2 protected areas. The Ugandan Mount Elgon NP is 140km northeast of Lake Victoria with land area coverage of about 1110 sq.km. The Kenyan Elgon NP is 169 sq.km and it was established in 1968 while the Ugandan section was founded in 1992.
Mt. Elgon is where the park takes its name. This is an extinct shield volcano lying along the Uganda and Kenya border. It experienced the first eruption 20 million years back and holds the world’s vastest unbroken caldera measuring 40 sq.km. Mt. Elgon once featured as the highest mountain on the African continent although its height was affected by erosion. Its peak Wagagai peak rises at an altitude of 4321 meters and it is East Africa’s fourth highest mountain.
Mount Elgon features the biggest base on the planet earth measuring 3840sq.km. This is also East Africa’s biggest solitary volcanic mountain lying in the extreme Eastern Uganda.
Mount Elgon National Park (MENP) lies at the border between Uganda and Kenya, East Africa. Its strategic location within Mt. Elgon makes it a significant water catchment for the Nzoia River. This river feeds Lake Victoria and on Kenyan side, it is water catchment for the Turkwel River that empties its water into Lake Turkana.
4 peaks are on Elgon Mountain including Wagagai (4321m), Mubiyi (4210m), Kiongo peak (4303m), and Jackson’s summit (4165m). At the base area, there are Bagisu and the Sabiny communities. On a Uganda safari to Mt. Elgon NP, visitors can also visit the Sipi Falls. Mount Elgon National Park is a recognized UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.
Wild animals & birds
Mt. Elgon NP shelters wild animals such as duikers, spotted hyenas, Defassa waterbucks, squirrels, elephants, black and white colobus monkeys. Over 299 bird species reside in this park and include tacazze sunbird, black-shouldered kite, Jackson’s francolins, black-collared apalis, moustached green tinker bird, why’s weaver bird, moorland francolins, white-starred forest robin, Eastern bronze-napped pigeon, black-shouldered kite, lammergeyer, hunter’s cisticolas, alpine chat, marsh widowbird, Hartlaub’s turacos, red-throated wryneck, and more.
Safari tour activities to do in Mt. Elgon National Park
Hiking / Mountain Climbing
Mount Elgon offers less strenuous mountaineering adventures and breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. Conquering the Wagagai peak of Mt. Elgon is possible on the designated trails, especially the Sasa trail which provides the shortest hikes to the summits of this volcano. This is a 4-day trek trail through the bamboo forest and Jackson’s pool.
The Sipi trail requires 4 to 6 days and hikes begin at Kapkwai-Tutum cave. The Piswa trail a 7-day trek via Kapkwata-podocarps forest. At an altitude of over 2500 meters, you will experience altitude sickness and fitness levels matter a lot.
Abseiling is carried out on one of the Sipi Falls cliffs. At 100 meter altitude, guests abseil overviewing the ridge next to a pool of water while also enjoying the breathtaking sceneries.
Bird watching tours
Elgon Mountain National Park is an important birding destination in Uganda, home to over 299 bird species. The birds to explore in this park include the white-starred forest robin, moustached green tinkers, Jackson’s francolins, moorland francolins, hunter’s cisticolas, black-shouldered kite, black-collared apalis, eastern bronze napped pigeon and more.
Trout fishing is an exception sport fishing experience that is enjoyable on Uganda tours in Eastern Uganda. Engaging in trout fishing requires participants to have their own gear and a permit can be obtained at the Sipi River Lodge.
Rock climbing is a remarkable outdoor adventure enjoyable on Uganda safaris to Mount Elgon National Park. This adventure is carried out outside the park at Sipi and you need rock-scaling techniques to conquer the 14 climbs. The toughest climb to face is 35m and the simplest is 15 meters.
Hiking to the Sipi Falls is a special outdoor experience. It allows hikers to conquer the triple waterfalls that make up the Sipi waterfalls and they exist in varying altitudes ranging from 100 meters, 87m and 69m. some tourists who are in Uganda on gorilla safaris prefer to start with the visit to this area to view these falls
Hiking/nature walking is one of the many on-foot-walk adventures to expect to engage in Mt. Elgon NP. Embark on a guided nature walk or hiking with an experienced guide. Explore the Budadiri to Mudange cliffs and you wind through the forest, primates such as baboons, black and white colobus monkeys are a must-see.
Biking and cave exploration
Mount Elgon and Kapchorwa offer excellent biking experiences. The biking tour begins right from the Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa. It comes with breathtaking views of the Karamoja plains, waterfalls and surrounding homesteads. At the slopes, there are several caves to be explored and caving expeditions are perfectly done in Chepnyali, Kitum and Mackingeny. Other areas of interest for caving expeditions include Khauka, Kapkwai where huge bat populations can be sighted.
Agro tourism & cultural visits
Adjacent to the park, there is coffee farming practiced by local communities. On a guided walk, you will explore the nearby coffee farms, learn more about coffee growing till the stage it is made a final product for consumption.
When to visit
Access to Mount Elgon N/Park for a holiday can be done at any month of the year although the dry months are the best. If hiking/mountaineering is your thing, then consider visiting Elgon NP around June, July, August or December, January to February.
Accommodation-lodges/camps to stay
The accommodation options for visitor stay exist in and the nearby Mbale city including budget, midrange and luxury. They include Kayegi hotel, Mbale resort hotel, Noah’s Ark hotel, Kapkwai forest cottages, Sipi River Lodge, Mount Elgon View Hotel, Masha Hotel and others.
Driving from Kampala along the Eastern circuit offers easy access to Mount Elgon N/Park. Navigate via the Kampala-Jinja-Mbale route; enjoy the scenic views of sugarcane and tea plantations, the source of the Nile in Jinja, etc. Driving time from Kampala to Elgon N/Park takes between 5 and 6 hours.