Mount Elgon Nation Park,Uganda Safari tour to Mount Elgon Nation Park,mountain climbing safaris in Uganda
Mount Elgon National Park Spreading to over 1,121km2 of land, Mount Elgon National Park lies with in the eastern side of Uganda close to Kenyan boarder 255km from Kampala which is the country’s capital city. Mount Elgon which was once the tallest in Africa before it was eroded to being the fourth tallest in East Africa rises up to 4,321m above sea level and is the oldest and largest single standing volcano in East Africa having last erupted approximately 24 million years ago. The Elgon Mountain has got the largest intact mountain caldera in the whole world which stretches up to 42km2 and the largest volcanic base in the world which extends to 4,000km2. Mount Elgon National Park has gone through various protected area statuses before gaining its current stand. It was first established in 1929 as a forest reserve and then as a crown forest and central forest reserve in 1940 and 1951 respectively. In 1993, the protected area was elevated a national park status. It was degazetted in 1983 to settle the landless communities that had encroached on it thus losing 6,000ha and at the time of its gazettion as a national park in 1993, more 1500ha had been encroached upon.Mount Elgon National Park is surrounded by the Bagisu and Sabiny and the Ndorobo people who live in the forest of Benet. The Bagisu have got great cultural attachment to Mount Elgon which is referred to as Mount Masaba in the local dialect of which they believe that their founding father – Masaba originated from. Mount Elgon is water shed forming the source of so many rivers and streams which are intercepted by basalt cliffs which have positioned themselves as impermeable leading to formation of a range of water falls. The park also has beautiful species of flora along with other unique geological features like caves, gorges, cliffs, hot springs among other features.
Attractions Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is named as the largest and oldest volcano in East Africa that is free standing. The once tallest Africa was reduced by forces of denudation to being the fourth in East Africa rising to 4,321m. This rich history makes Mount Elgon famous and worthy of encountering while on Uganda safaris. The top of Mount Elgon is crowned by a caldera that stretches to 42km2 long and 8km wide making it the largest mountain caldera in the world. Mount Elgon has various peaks with Wagagai being the highest rising up to 4,321m above sea level followed by Sudek (4,303m), Koitobos (4,222m) and Mubiyi (4,210m). The eastern side of the caldera there stands a deep gorge called Suam with a hot spring while in the North West there lies Simu gorge that was formed as a result of cutting of caldera waters across volcanic ash that deemed weak and agglomerate walls. This mountainous landscape makes it thrilling to encounter on Uganda safaris.
Vegetation in Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon has got different vegetation zones that occupy different altitude levels. The lower mountain slopes are covered with a regenerating dense forest marked with vine-like lianas, epiphytes and lichens while the floor contains a variety of ferns, orchids and flowering plants. Common tree species encountered in the tropical montane forest (1,500-2,500m) are olive Oleahochstetteri, Elgon teak, prunus africanas, podocarpus, cedar, Cordia, allophyllus tombea, Neoboutania and Aningueriaadolfi-friedericii. Mixed bamboo at 2,500-3,000m depicts the change of zone where it amalgamates into open woodland conquered by hagenia abyssinica and African rosewood intermingled with hypericum. The heath zone (3,000- 3500m) is marked by giant heather interposed with grassy swards of blonde tussock grass dotted with pink and white everlasting flowers (ericriceum brownie and jonstonii), blue delphiniums, flame-colored gladioli, and red hot pokers. The moorland or Afro-alpine zone (3,500-4,321m) is marked Erica tree, senecio elgonensis, giant lobelias with hairy leaves and plumes of tiny blue flowers, ladies’ mantle tussocks (archimilla elgonesis) and pink and white everlasting flowers while the top of the mountain is marked by rare Afro-montane species like giant forms of lobelia and groundsel. These vegetation ranges are an attraction to Uganda safari undertakers.
Wildlife in Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park contains a range of fauna species including; elephants, defassa water buck, spotted hyena, buffaloes, oribi, leopard and bushbuck. These species due to nature of the landscape, they are not frequently seen. The most encountered species include; black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey and tree squirrel duiker.
Birds in Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park contains 296 species of birds of which 40 is restricted to Mount Elgon thus providing birders with rewarding birding opportunities. These birds include among others; Jackson’s francolin, moustached green tinker bird, black collared apalis, bronze-naped pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco and tacazze sunbird and endangered Lammergeyer.
Local people and cultural tours in Mount Elgon National Park
The various tribal groups that surround the park including the Bagisu, Sabiny and Ndorobos have got impressive cultural traditions, customs and practices. For example the Imbalu cultural ceremony which is a significant event among the Bagisu where male gender is initiated into manhood. The locals consider Mount Elgon locally known as Masaba to be the origin of their founding father Masaba. The traditional Malewa cuisine that is extracted from the Bamboo sots is also thrilling to encounter while on safaris in Uganda. The Sabiny have got their traditional practice of female genital Mutilation where they will tell you stories about it. The Ndorobo community is famed for its bull fighting experience.
Situated along the Kapchorwa road, Sipi falls flows down from 100m cliff. It originates from the sequence of massive basalt cliffs which intercepts the course of the flowing streams creating splendid waterfalls. Sipi falls is among the three water falls that are found in the area including 69m Simba falls and the 87m Ngasire waterfall. The surface connection to Sipi falls from Mbale is about 1 hour. The area also has a range of other water falls including; Sisiyi, Bulago, Chebonet and Wanale which combine to derive rewarding scenic views to Uganda safari undertakers.
Tourist activities in Mount Elgon National Park
Birding in Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park has got 296 species of birds of which 40 of these are limited to Mount Elgon area thus worthy encountering on Uganda safaris. The birding encounters commences at Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre and the Loop trails that push to Cheptui falls offers impressive birding encounters including species like; African Blue Fly-catcher, Chubb’s Cisticola, African Goshawk, Dohertys, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Baglafecht Weaver, White-chinned Prinia, Luhders Bush-shrikes, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinker bird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Black-collared Apalis and Black Kite Olive- and Bronze-naped pigeons.
Cultural encounters in Mount Elgon National Park
This enables you to encounter the life of the locals that surround the park. The Bagisu and Sabiny farming communities and the Ndorobos pastoralists. The Imbalu (Circumcision) ceremony among the Bagisu is very thrilling along with their famous Kadodi dance and the malewa cuisine. The Ndorobos have got interesting bull fighting encounter. A visit to local coffee plantations is also very interesting.
Mountain climbing in Mount Elgon National Park
The Mount Elgon encounter differs by trails and these include;
The Sipi trail. The 7 days Sipi trail starts at the Forest Exploration Center Kapkwai located a few Kilometers north of Sipi falls. The trail exposes you to the serene Tutum cave covered by the forested slopes of Mount Elgon
Sasa trail. The 4 days Sasa trail starts at Budadiri and offers a direct route to the summit of Mount Elgon. It includes a 1,600m of steep ascend on the starting day. The Sasa trail traverses the Bamboo zone and passes by the splendid Jackson’s pool on the way to Wagagai peak.
Piswa trail in Mount Elgon National Park. The 7 days Piswa trail starts at Kapkwata which is 30km from Kapchorwa and ascends to Wagagai peak 4,321m. Piswa trail starts at a raised elevation and follows a gradual hike up to the mountain caldera. The trail exposes you to Podocarpus forest with counts of wildlife.
Suam trail in Mount Elgon National Park. This is very long compared to other trails and is less utilized. It commences at the village of suam close to the Kenyan boarder and goes along River Suam up to the hot springs on the east side of caldera.
Mountain biking in Mount Elgon National Park
The Mountain biking adventure commences at Sipi River lodge where bikes are got from and travellers on Uganda safaris cycle through Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town. The encounter opens you to water fall sights and magical views of Karamoja. The Mountain biking encounter tends to last 1.5 hours.
Nature walks in Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National park presents rewarding Nature walks. One of the trail starts from Budadiri up to the famous Mudange cliffs or the wall of death lasting a whole day. The Mudange cliffs are impressive natural features with a horrific element with sharp edges beyond which you definitely risk your dear life. You have chances of spotting blue monkeys, baboons, black and white colobus dwelling in the tropical forests along this trek. There is also Sipi falls walk which is community led activity and it can be organized for a few hours or to a full day depending on your time. There is also the famous sun rise trek conducted in Kapchorwa which commences at 6am and runs for 20 minutes. The trek leads you to the hills of Tewei to explore the sun dawning across the plains of Karamoja.
Accommodation in Mount Elgon National Park:Suam Guest House
It is operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority and offers self-catering services.
Kapkwata Guest House. It has three main rooms with a sleeping capacity for seven people and offers kitchen services, but visitors have to bring their own food supplies or provide money to buy on arrival.
There is dormitory accommodation and self-contained wooden cottages at the Forest Exploration Center Kapkwai. Meals are available on request.
This has 23 rooms, located in a serene residential area 1 km from Kapchorwa town center in direction of Sipi. It has both Single and double rooms self-contained with TV though non self-contained rooms are also available. Room rates include breakfast. It also has a good restaurant and bar.
Noah’s Ark Hotel.
This hotel has a range of guest rooms including single and double rooms both self-contained and non-self-contained, Executive rooms and Suites. It located close to the town center of Kapchorwa from the main road with secure parking, DSTV services and busy restaurant worth of stay while on Safaris in Uganda.
Savannah guest house.
It is located on 3-5 Kasumbein Road, London Bridge/Kapchorwa Suam Road, Kapchorwa providing overnight stay services including bar and restaurant.
Sipi falls area.
Sipi River Lodge. The lodge is located in the out skirts of Sipi trading center on the road inclining towards Kapchorwa. It provides a multiplicity of accommodation elegances with close proximity to the main house. The main house contains a dining room with a log fire, trendy bar, relaxed reading lounge and airy veranda while internet access is available to guests on prime Uganda Safari-tour with own laptops. Accommodation cottages include;
Kapsurur and Aniet Cottage. These are luxury cottages with private, spacious and elegant design with scenic views of the falls. They have en-suite bathroom with a double shower, king sized double bed, second twin bed, lounge and veranda.
Chepkui Cottage. The cottage contains en-suite flushing toilet and power shower, a master bedroom with giant double bed and a separate lounge with sofas, day bed and a bunk bed. It has a maximum capacity of five guests and is suitable for families, couples or large groups.
Others include; the Chepkui Cottage Annex, Piswa and Sasa Bandas, and Suam Bunkhouse.
Crow’s nest campsite.
It is stunningly located at an elevation of 1770m on the gradients of Mount Elgon. It presents enormous sights of the three Sipi water falls. It has cottages, cabins and camping facilities. They also prepare meals for travelers on Safari in Uganda.
Sipi Falls Resort.
The resort provides overnight stay in 5 cozy thatched cottages with private facilities as well as gorgeous sights of the gorgeous Sipi Falls and the Karamajong plains. The resort has a modern restaurant and bar.
It is located near Sipi overlooking Sipi falls and it has descent accommodation in traditional African huts. It has no electricity, no bar and no meals provided. Food can be accessed in the nearby trading Centre.
Twilight Sipi Campsite.
It is located near the crow’s nest providing accommodation in Dormitory with 12 beds, shared Banda, with 10 beds, twin Banda and self-contained Banda. It has restaurant and bar and the accommodation rates exclude breakfast.
Lacam is a local Sabiny word literally meaning a cliff thus showing that Lacam lodge is situated on a cliff which is 1 km from Sipi trading center towards Kapchorwa. The lodge has cottages that are crafted out of domestic timber and grass thatch from the adjacent plains. Each cottage has enough space with two double beds, large verandas and en-suite shower with toilet. The lodge also has nice bar and restaurant preparing up to four course meals. It also has self-contained Bandas, shared facility Bandas and Catering camping services Uganda Safaris undertakers.
Rose’s Last Chance.
Rose’s Last Chance is located opposite Mount Elgon visitors’ information Centre at 1250 meters ASL. It has seven single and double bedrooms plus a dormitory accommodation for up to 20 people. Self-tenting overnight stay is provided at a campsite equipped with showers and flush toilets. Hot water also available upon request while a variety of camping gear is accessible for hire. Restaurant and bar also available.
Mbale is the largest town in the region thus contains a variety of accommodation ranging from luxury, mid-range and budget to the visiting travelers on Uganda Safari. Some of these include;
Mbale Resort Hotel.
It is a deluxe five star hotel located at the Centre of Mbale town containing 94 hotel rooms and suites. A cross section of the rooms have balconies overlooking the scenic environs of Wanale ridge on Mt. Elgon helping the traveler invigorate his Uganda Safari memories during the stay. The hotel rooms features a satellite TV, high speed Wi-Fi, room service, mini bar, coffee and tea making facilities, dresser and easy chair, room telephone, air conditioning, hair driers, bath robes and slippers. The resort has 3 restaurants and 2 bars of international standard. It also contains modern swimming pool, health club and fitness center.
Mount Elgon Hotel.
It is located in Mbale town opposite Mt Elgon National Park Offices offering superb traveler accommodation while on Uganda Safari that includes; standard rooms, superior rooms, executive rooms and junior suites with all rooms containing Satellite TV, free Wi-Fi access, and complimentary access to swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi. It has modern bar and restaurant. The hotel has got room service that runs from 6:30am to mid night, daily housekeeping, and concierge, laundry services while the rooms feature satellite TV connection, telephone line, safe deposit box and complimentary Wi-Fi.
How to get there
Mount Elgon National Park can be connected to from the following originating areas;