If you are heading to Eastern Uganda then Mount Elgon National Park shouldn’t miss out in your bucket list. The park offers refuge to Mount Elgon an extinct volcano that stretches up to 4321 meters high with Wagagai peak being its highest peak. This volcano first exploded about 24 million years ago and in prehistoric times stood taller than the Kilimanjaro Mountain. It covers an area of about 4000 square kilometers and features the biggest volcanic base in the world. Mount Elgon National Park is situated in eastern Uganda just at border with Kenya. It also offers refuge to more than 300 bird species that include among others the endangered lammergeyers; small antelope families, elephants, buffaloes, forest monkeys and many more. Its floral and faunal species range from the lush Montana, mixed bamboo belt forest to vast moorland, studded with the rarest and endemic plant species such as the giant lobelia and groundsel plants peculiar to Africa as well as thick shrubs and brilliant wild everlasting flowers. The park is mainly surrounded by the Bagisu and Sabiny who largely subsistence farmers.
What to do in Mount Elgon National Park
For hikers or mountain climbers on Uganda safari, Mount Elgon National Park should be a must to visit for you during your next vacation in Africa. Hiking adventures in this park take you through its magnificent sceneries, the surrounding areas of Mount Elgon that reward hikers with views of several forest monkeys and small antelope families as well as elephants and buffaloes. You can as well hike to the magnificent Sipi falls that reward visitors with breathtaking views of its 3 remarkable waterfalls and surrounding areas.
The park offers refuge to about 300 distinct birdlife that are worth exploring while on birding safari, most of these are never found anywhere in Uganda.
Trekking to the Sipi falls
For trekkers, there are about 3 major trailheads that take you through Mount Elgon peaks and the Sipi falls. These include the Sasa trailhead, the Sipi trailhead forest exploration centre-Kapkwai to Piswa trailhead. The Sasa trailhead takes trekkers via the park’s biggest area of bamboo forest and this also features as the direct route to the peaks but it comes with steep slopes of about 1600 meters at its starting point and it can also be reached from Mbale. The Sipi trailhead rewards visitors with exploration of its stunning Tutum cave that is hidden within the extensive forest while the Piswa trail features mainly the Podocarpus forest which rewards visitors with exceptional views of wildlife.
There are about nine (9) campsites within Mount Elgon most of which are situated strategically at the trekking routes. Camping adventures are only conducted in designated campsites and visitors are encouraged to come with their own camping gear.
Day light hikes
This mainly rewards visitors with the most incredible forest exploration and comes with enjoyable cool mist at Che-bonet falls, the Kapkwai cave and the talking tree and stunning scenery views. On Mount Elgon stretch, there is Wanale trail loop site that comes with vertical cliffs of ridge and many waterfalls which reward visitors with spectacular scenic views. You can as well spot out the petrified wood in the Khauka caves while catching a glimpse at the panoramic views of plain areas in eastern Uganda.
There is also 3-11 kilometer hike that offers visitors opportunity to discover most of park’s rare montane forest, plants, wildlife and many more. For this experience, you will need good walking shoes and rain jacket and extra batteries for your torch,
Best time to visit Mount Elgon National Park
This park can be visited at anytime of the year but better to pay a visit during the dry season that starts from June to August and December to February.
Accommodation facilities in Mount Elgon National Park
The notable accommodations in Mount Elgon National Park include Mount Elgon Hotel, Country Home, Mbale Resort Hotel and Sunrise Inn-these are mainly found around Mbale town. At the Sipi falls area, there are camping wooden bandas while at Suam and Kapkwata there are guesthouses and at the Forest Exploration Center there are dormitory style rooms especially at Kapkwai.
In conclusion, Mount Elgon National Park is one of the best national parks in Uganda with remarkable tourist attractions that are worth exploring by visitors on safari to eastern Uganda. If you are planning for your vacation to Kidepo Valley National Park, or Murchison Falls National Park, never miss to include Mount Elgon National Park in your bucket list.