Mount Elgon is an extinct volcanic mountain with the largest surface area in the world (50km by 80km) and a caldera with a diameter of about 8 km. The highest peak is Wagagai, 4.321 m. It lies at the border with Kenya. The National Park is 1.145 kms in extension. The local people, Bagisu used to call the mount Masaba, while Elgon is named after the Anglicization of the Maasai El Kony. The best time to visit Mount Elgon is May and September, November and December. Its mountainous terrain introduces variety to an otherwise monotonous regional landscape. Its cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitudes provides a refuge for flora and fauna.
Animal Species in the Park
While ascending Mount Elgon, there are four different forest zones: the lush montane forest, the mixed bamboo belt, the heath and the spectacular moorland hyrachs, which contains rare species like the giant Lobelia Elgonensis and clusters of groundsels which are unique to Africa. At least 300 species of birds are recorded, including Jackson’s francolin, guinea fowls, sunbirds and turacos. The checklist for mammals includes at least 24 species.
Tourist Activities in Park
Mount Elgon hiking: There are several trekking trails around Mount Elgon, all open to everybody as this is not a difficult mountain to climb (Sasa, Sipi and Piswa trials). The full trekking circuit to the peaks takes 5 to 6 days to complete. The nature walks allows you to see flora and fauna, the enormous caves, gorges and hot springs. One day hikes are possible from the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkway. Particularly fascinating is the hike from Sipi trading centre to the Sipi Falls, a series of four pretty waterfalls culminating in a 99m drop at an altitude of 1.775 m, along the river Sipi, which originates from Mount Elgon.
Accessibility of the Park
Mount Elgon National Park lies 235km east of Uganda’s capital city. A tarmac road runs through Jinja to Mbale town at the western base of Mount Elgon, before climbing to Kapchorwa on the mountain’s north-western flank. Tarmac road lead off the Mbale-Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.
The park has quite good number of lodge that provide good services to clients and these include the Mbale resort hotel, Lacam lodge, Sipi river lodge and more.