The Mountain Elgon National Park.
The Mountain Elgon National Park, Uganda.
Along the border of Uganda and Kenya sits the biggest volcanic base ever; Mountain Elgon which is not only 4,000 square kilometers high but also is the loneliest and oldest volcanic mountain in Uganda and East Africa at large. The mountain is known to be extinct since the over 24 million years ago passed when it first erupted. Mountain Elgon is the 4th highest mountain in the Eastern Africa and with the 2nd highest peak; the Wagagai at 4,321 meters in Uganda. This however is not the climax of your tour to the Elgon but after you get the experience of the 40 square kilometer plunge of caldera which is enclosed by the rocky peaks, you will have achieved the purpose of your visit.
The Elgon Mountain harbors more than 300 bird species inclusive of the rare and endangered Lammergeyer. This alone gives the park a status of being the perfect birding paradise to many birders. There are numerous activities that one can engage in when here at the Elgon Mountains and these among some of the many include the following;
The African Blue Flycatchers, the African Goshawks, the Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush Shrikes, the Chubb’s Cisticola, the Baglafecht Weaver, the White Chinned Prina, the Mackinon’s Fiscal and the Chin spot Batis can all be found here especially in the secondary forest with a very thick scrub near the camp and next to the River Chebonet. Other bird kinds frequently here are the Ross’s and Hartlaubs Turacos, the Crowned Hornbills, the Golden Winged and Tacazze Sunbirds, the Black and White Casqued not forgetting the Jackson’s Francolin which can only be found here and not any other place in the country.
• The Flora and Fauna encounters.
Sights of thick montane woodlands with the belts of bamboo swarming with bird life waiting to be discovered are what you will probably see as you ascend the slopes of the Mountain Elgon. Among the common species of plants found here are the Groundsels and the Giant Lobelia while the animals include primates like the Blue Monkeys and the Black and White Colobus Monkeys. Other animals here are the hyenas, buffaloes, duikers and the elusive leopards which specifically will be seen by those that are sharp eyed.
• Hikes and Nature Walks.
There are 3 trails during the day that are as long as 3 to 7 kilometers offered at the Forest Exploration Center. This gives one the chance of seeing the uniqueness of the Mountain Elgon Park in such very little time. The 4th trail that reaches the huge Tutum Cave was open and available for those interested and it is only 11 kilometers if you are coming from the center.
Some other trails that lead you to the peak are the Salsa Trail also called the Buddukiro and the Pisa trail which is also locally referred to as the Kapkwata trailhead. The latter lets you explore and view the wildlife much more excellently while the former is very accessible if you are coming from Mbale. It also gives you direct access to the peaks. A hike that gives you full coverage of all the peaks lasts 4 to 5 days.
There are only 5 available campsites that are found next to the trekking circuits. These are strategically located even though they are a little primitive. When inside the Mountain Elgon National Park, visitors are prohibited from camping in the caldera. You however are required to carry items like a warm jacket, a fuel efficient stove and rain gear. Items like sleeping bags and or tents are available for hire in Mbale at the park’s office.
Some other attractions around and just outside the park that you can get to visit are the breathtaking Sipi Falls only 66 kilometers away from Mbale.