MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK
Mount Elgon National Park is one of Uganda’s other site for mountaineering, trekking/ climbing and adventure Uganda safaris. Situated ideally in the eastern part of the country near Mbale and Kapchorwa area and on the western Kenyan border, Mount Elgon at 4000 km2 has the largest volcanic base in the world. Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano and one of the country’s oldest physical features first erupting a million years ago.
At the summit of Mount Elgon and the national park itself, is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera at a size of 40 Sq.km and an 8 Km diameter, formed after a powerful eruption emptied the volcano’s magma reservoir. The cone no longer supported by underlying molten rock collapsed inwards, permanently blocking the vent leaving an open area that was filled by water forming the Caldera.
The higher slopes of Mount Elgon are protected as national parks in the respective countries, creating an extensive trans-boundary conservation area which is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. In Uganda, the Mountain Elgon National Park covers an area of 1,145 Square Kilometers.
Cultural heritage in/ around Mount Elgon National Park
Mountain Elgon is home to three groups of people; the Sabinyi, Ogiek and Bagisu. The latter also commonly known as the Bamasaba, consider Mt. Elgon to be the epitome of their founding father Masaba and they refer to it by his name. The two tribes of the Bagisu and Sabiny occupy the forest margins and both tribes are known to practice circumcision, the famous of the practice being the Imbalu a biannual ceremony of the Bagishu which initiates boys into manhood.
Mount Elgon national park, lies just about 4 hour drive via Jinja to Mbale, in the Eastern part of the country from Kampala city.
Flora in the park
The higher altitude of Mount Elgon national park provides refuge to flora and fauna; its vegetation is banded into broad zones whose features are dictated by altitude and rainfall.
Mountain Elgon’s lower slopes are covered with dense forests and regenerating forests, hung with vine like Lianas, Epiphytes, and Lichens. The floor is spread with a carpet of ferns, orchids and flowering plants. The tropical montane forest are found at an altitude of 1500-2500m above sea-level and common species that will be encountered include; Aningeria adolfi-friedericii, Elgon olive welwitchi, Prunus Africana, Elgon teak, Cordia, and Allophyllus tombea among others.
The zone changes to varied Bamboo at an altitude of 2500-3000m and the Bamboo merges into open woodland dominated by Hagenia Abyssinica and African Rosewood interspersed with Hyperium.
Fauna in the park
Mountain Elgon national park has over 300 species of birds such as the African Goshawk, African Blue Flycatcher, White-chinned Prinia, and the endangered Lammergeyer. Elgon’s diversity is attested to the presence of mammals like forest Elephants, Buffalos and small Antelopes as well as primates like the forest Monkeys.
Other attractions near Mount Elgon
A distinctive finger of forest extending outwards from the main chain of Mount Elgon is the Nkokonjeru ridge at an altitude of 2,347 meters with a 25km long tongue of lava that spread out of the volcano. The ridge climaxes at the terrific Wanale cliffs towering above Mbale town. There are two seasonal falls that make visit to the place magnificent. Just outside the park are the beautiful Sipi Falls located in Kapchorwa.
Mount Elgon National Park lies just about 4hours drive in the Eastern part of the country from Kampala city. A main route leads through Jinja to Mbale at the western base of Elgon. Another alternative but longer route is through Jinja and Tororo to Mbale.
From Mbale, visitors can ascend to Kapchorwa on Mount Elgon’s northwestern side where one can have easy access to the various trailheads.
Things to do in Mount Elgon National Park
- Mountain climbing
- Hiking and rock climbing
- Birdwatching and nature walks
- Mountain biking
- Sport fishing and abseiling around Sipi falls
- Cultural encounters and community walks
Safaris to Mount Elgon National Park