Mt Elgon National Park Uganda
Mount Elgon National Park is emerging as the most popular destination in Eastern Uganda for budget trekking, compared to the cost of climbing the Rwenzori Mountains or Mt Kilmanjaro in Tanzania. Established in 1993, Mount Elgon National Park is one of the most recently created of Uganda’s national parks and encompasses the upper regions of Mt Elgon to the Kenyan border. The mountain is said to have one of the largest surface areas of any extinct volcano caves, gorges and waterfalls.
Wagagai is the highest peak (4321m). The views from the highest point across the wide plains are among the most spectacles in Uganda. The upper slopes are clothed in tropical mountain forest, while above this is a vast tract of alpine moorland extends over the caldera, a collapsed crater covering some 40sq km at the top of the mountain.
Flora and Fauna: While ascending Mt Elgon’s enchanting slopes you will meet four-distinct forest types: the lush mountain forest where you will find the Elgon peak, mixed bamboo belt, the fascinating heath and the spectacular moorland hyrachs. The moorland hyrachs contain stands of some of the rarest and endemic plant species, like the giant Lobelia elgonensis and dotted clusters of peculiar groundsels, which are unique to Africa. You will also encounter the dense shrubs and brilliant wild Everlasting flowers that will ad the beauty of the place while you maneuver the place!
Bird lovers will enjoy about 300 bird species including the endangered lammergeiers, the rare Jackson’s francolin, guinea fowls, sunbirds and turacos among others. A number of primates inhabit the mountain, other animals include bushbuck, antelope, civet, wildcat and the elusive leopard roam below. Bush duiker, hyena, jackal, rock hyrax, buffalo and elephant rove between the forest and the moorland.
Many of these animals visit Mt.Elgon’s bat filled caves for their valuable mineral deposits. The mountain also has a cave with God arranged stones in form of a conference room, it is said that during the reign of President Amin Dada, he help a parliament meeting in the cave.
Activities in the Mountain park: Trekking, Tourism on Mt Elgon is still relatively underdeveloped, so visitors need to be resourceful, patient, self sufficient and not expect well-worn paths such as those found on Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro. However, it is also possible to hike for days without seeing another tourist, an impossible dream on Mt Kilimanjaro. The best time to climb the mountain is from December to March, but the seasons are unpredictable and it can rain at any time.
How one can get there and away? There are regular, if infrequent, taxis to Budadiri fro Mbale (Ushs 5000, for one hour). There is no regular transport to the forest Exploration center, but minibuses between Sipi and Kapchorwa pass the sign posted turn-off, from where it is a 6 km walk to the center. Between Mbale and Kampala there are frequent minibuses (Ush 10,000 for three hours)
Sipi Falls; Sipi falls is truly a beautiful sight, and it’s well worth making the effort to get here. The falls are about 55km North of Mbale, in the foothills of Mt Elgon and not far from the town of Kapchorwa . Not only are the falls spectacular, so too are the views of Mt Elgon above them, and the wide plains of eastern and northern Uganda disappearing into the distance below. It is worth spending a night or two in this peaceful and pretty place.
How to get there and away: Minibuses run between Mbale and Sipi falls daily( Ush 4000, one hour). The road is now one of the best in Uganda constructed by a Bosnian company and complete with safety railings and drainage channels.
Accommodations that can be found here: Executive accommodation in the park is offered at forest cottages at Kapkwai. Available are four wooden Bandas. They are naturally air conditioned, have warm and cold showers and fitted with lighting system. The forest Exploration center is also another place to stay if one is to use the Sipi falls trail for trekking Mt Elgon.