Mountain Elgon National Park is a park that covers an area of 1,279 square kilometers and bisected by the boarder of Uganda and Kenya. It is located in the eastern region of Uganda in Mbale district, northeast of Lake Victoria. The park was established and gazetted in 1992 and 1968 in Uganda and Kenya respectively.
Identified as the world’s largest caldera, Mount Elgon national park is one of Uganda’s gifted parks with diverse beauty, not found elsewhere in the world. The park’s scenery is filled with caves, cliffs, calderas, mesas, peaks, waterfalls and hot springs, which add beauty to this towering mountain.
Mount Elgon edges are composed of diverse caves, which were formed due to erosive processes and moving lava of the soft volcano deposits. The kapkwai cave and khauka cave on the wanale ridge are the most accessible caves in the park. For an overnight expedition, Tutum cave would be the place to be. In addition, siyo cave and Mude cave is a no miss, during your visit in the park. The historical features were once home to the livestock of the local people who lived on the slopes of Mount Elgon long ago.
The caves on the later days provided manure for the locals, this manure is in form of bat drippings, and the caves are used as resting spots for the climbers and porters when hiking around Mount Elgon national park. Jackson’s pool is also another unique attraction found in Mount Elgon national park. Occupied by the low waters and standing at 4,050m in the low land of the Jackson’s peak, the Jackson’s natural pool was named by the first European to climb Mount Elgon in 1889.
The locals once used Jackson’s peak as a spot to communicate with their ancestors, for this peak had traditional attachment with the people who lived in the area until the recent past.
Beyond the park, on the northern and western slopes of Mount Elgon, rise a series of basalt cliffs, which the mountain river spouts, as waterfalls. A three series waterfall, sipi falls is outside the park on Kapchorwa road. The lowest of the falls pours over a 100m cliff. Simba, the second fall pours 69m. In addition, Ngasire the third waterfall gushes over 87m.
A place where king of the Sabiny, Chemonges Kingo meets his subjects, tewei hill is also of one of the unique beauties that the park boasts of. At the top of tewei hill, you can have a breathtaking view of the three-sipi falls, the wagagai peak and karamajong plains, all at the same time. Sisiyi, chebonet, wanale, and bulago are also among the many waters falls scattered on the mountain slopes.
Besides the beautiful scenery offered by Mount Elgon national park, the park has habituated over 299 bird species, many of which cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. Mount Elgon has both forest and endemic bird species such as; weyns weaver, Jackson’s francolin, marsh widowbird, moorlands francolin, alpine chat, and hunter’s cisticola for these have also been one of the biggest attractions in park.
Mount Elgon national park has a diversity of mammas such as tiny antelopes, leopards, hyenas, forest monkeys, buffaloes and elephants; these have also sourced travelers across the world together with its beautiful vegetation. Mountain Elgon National Park presents a wide variety of activities to a range of tourists that find their way here; these include, birding, nature walks, cultural encounters and hiking, among others.
While in the park, you will have a chance to visit the Budadiri community and the Sipi widow’s women group. There, you will learn about livelihood of these people and different handicrafts that they make to earn a living.
The Budadiri community walk includes Namugabwe cave trail that goes through the banana plantations and Bamasaba community that leads to the Dirigana cave, a historical cave filled with bones. In addition, this trail goes towards the Dirigana falls and past the ‘walls of death’ and the local market.
You will also have a visit the sabiny that are well known for their cultural dance of ‘akadodi’, hunting skills, and the cultural practice of female genital mutilation. The Bagisu and Saboat people among other cultures around national park.
Having a nature walk in Mount Elgon national park is another way to explore the gems of the park; this leads to new discovery of great bird species, spectacular landscapes, waterfalls and the rugged slopes of Mount Elgon.
Birding excursions is another activity that can be engaged in while in Mount Elgon national park. Birds such as Tacazze sunbird, bearded vulture, black shouldered kite among others can be sighted.
Hiking & Rock Climbing
Hiking and rock climbing are thrilling and exciting experiences while in the park. In Mount Elgon national park, use the Piswa trail; this trail is rich in spectacular views of the karamoja plains in Uganda, the Kapeguria hills and Nandi in Kenya and wildlife. The Sipi trail on the other hand takes you through the mountainside of the park and through tutum cave leading to Wagagi peak. The Sasa trail, which is the longest, gives you a chance you explore the Bamasaba culture. Transboundary hikes can be organized across the borders of Uganda and Kenya.
Having accommodation while on your safari is one thing that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Mount Elgon national park has a wide range of accommodation near or within the park, ranging from luxury, mid range and budget. Some of the luxury options include Sipi Falls Lodge, Mount Elgon view hotel and more. Some of the midrange accommodation facilities include Lacam Lodge, Rafiki lodge and Noah’s Ark Lodge where as some of the budget accommodation facilities include UWA Bandas, Rose’s Last chance, Crown’s nest campsite and more.
Mount Elgon National Park can be reached by road, a drive that takes 4 hours from Kampala via Mbale following the eastern route. The experience while in the park is a lifetime adventure that can only be found while on your wildlife safari to Uganda and Mountain Elgon National Park should be a place not to miss visiting.