This magnificent Park is situated in Eastern Uganda on the Uganda-Kenya Border. Mount Elgon has a base of 400,000 hectares (4000 square kilometers) making it the most enormous Volcanic base in the world. It is about 80 kms in diameter and stands at more than 9843 feet above the nearby plains. The mountain has a cool environment and spectacular heights offers breathing space from the hot plains below with the higher elevations providing shelter for flora and fauna. This spectacular Mountain is the fourth highest mountain in East Africa and the 7th highest mountain in Africa with its highest summit being Wagagai at 14,177 feet).
The magnificent Mount Elgon National Park National Park was gazzeted in 1992 and is a haven to more than 24 species of mammals and 300 bird species. This National park spans at 1279 square kilometers, with the side of Uganda enjoying the larger part at 1110 square kilometers while the Kenyan part shares only 169 square kilometers.
Different vegetation types can be supported on this National Park and the types depend on the altitude of the area. The foothills are dominated by Aningueria adolfi-friedericii wet montane forest and olive Olea hochstetteri. This is followed by olive and the Podocarpus gracilior forest. The Bamboo forest then follows this vegetation. As the altitude changes, the vegetation type also changes.
Tourist attractions and activities in Mount Elgon National park
Tourists who visit this National Park are likely to encounter one of the 24 recorded species of mammals including Bushbucks, Elephants, Defassa waterbucks, Black and white colobus monkeys, Giant Forest Hogs, Forest monkeys, Leopards and Buffaloes among others
There are over 300 species of birds in this National Park. They include the endangered Lammergeyer, Jackson’s Francolin, Baglafecht weaver, Baglafecht weaver, White casqued Hornbills, Crowned Hornbills, Hartlaubs Turacco, Dragonfly (Maathai’s longleg), Tacazze sunbirds, Golden winged sunbirds, and Chin spot Batis among others. The secondary forest and dense scrub along River Chebonet near the Camp is famous for the White-chinned prinia, African blue flycatchers. Luhder’s Bush-shrikes, Mackinon’s Fiuscal and African Goshawk among others.
There are several attractions outside Mount Elgon National Park and they include the breathtaking Sipi Falls that is situated around 66kms from Mbale town, on the way to the Forest Exploration Center and Kapkwata.
Some of the tourists activities that take place in Mount Elgon National Park include mountain climbing (there are two major trailheads that usher tourists to the mountain peaks and they include Buddukiro trailhead and Salsa trail). Camping is also another important activity that tourists can engage in because there are 5 main campsites and are all situated at strategic points along the trekking trails. Tourists are not allowed to camp within the Caldera. Other activities include hiking, primate walks, mountain biking, Abseiling (conducted at one of the cliffs of the Sipi Falls), game drives, cave exploration (to Kitum, Mackingeny and Chepnyali caves), Guided walks, birding, visit to the of springs and community visits (Mount Elgon is home to the Bagishu, Ndorobo and the Sabyiny).
Where to Stay While at Mount Elgon National Park
Several simple but comfortable accommodation facilities exist within and around the Park and they include Forest Exploration Center bandas (Kapkwai), Kapkuro Bandas, Kapkwata Rest House (along Piswa trail), Suam Guesthouse, Sipi River Lodge, Sasa River Camp along the Sasa trail, Mount Elgon Lodge, Masha Hotel and Noah’s Ark Hotel among others.
How to access Mount Elgon National Park.
This Park is just 235 kms/3-5 hours drive from Kampala town. Drive through the tarmac road from Kampala to Mbale through Jinja town. After reaching Mbale, route/trailheads can be used to access the Park and they include Budadiri Trail (only 20kms from Mbale and tourists can even access it using public transport).
In conclusion, Mount Elgon national park is another important destination in Uganda and is famous for its magnificent mountain elgon and several wildlife and bird species. Tourists interested in mountain climbing should add this spectacular destination on their bucket list and will never regret it.