Mountain Elgon National Park
Mountain Elgon National Park is situated in the Eastern part of Uganda traverseing the Uganda and Kenya border 140 kilometres (87 mi) North East of Lake Victoria covering an area of 1,279 square kilometres (494 sq mi) i.e 1,110 km2 (430 sq mi) in Uganda and 169 km2 (65 sq mi) in Kenya.
The Park obtained its name from the prominent Mountain Elgon an extinct shield volcano with Wagagai Peak being the highest point on the Mountain. It is also a water catchment area for the Nzoia River that flows to Lake Victoria and Turkwel River referred to Suam River in Uganda that flows to Lake Turkana.
Climate of Mountain Elgon
Mountain Elgon comprises of moist to moderate dry climate with annual rainfall amounts over 1,270 millimetres (50 in) with the dry season in the months of from June to August and from December to March. Due to the location close to the equator, it can rain anytime.
Mountain Elgon has different vegetation types ranging from montane forest to open moorland studded with the giant lobelia and groundsel plants and this varies with altitude.
The Slopes are covered with olive Olea hochstetteri and Aningueria adolfi-friedericii wet montane forest whereas the higher altitudes have olive and Podocarpus gracilior forest then Podocarpus and bamboo Arundinaria alpina zone.
While elevating further, you find the Hagenia abyssinica zone, then moorland with heaths Erica arborea and Philippia trimera, tussock grasses such as Agrostis gracilifolia and Festuca pilgeri, herbs such as Alchemilla, Helichrysum, Lobelia, and the giant groundsels Senecio barbatipes and Senecio elgonensis.
At Mountain Elgon National Park, you watch various wildlife animals like Elephants, Buffalo, small antelope, Duicker, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey and red-tailed monkey.
Birders around the world should visit Mountain Elgon National Park as the park inhabits various species of birds like the Jackson’s spurfowl, eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco, Tacazze sunbird and the endangered lammergeyer. Various species of butterfly also await you.
Safari Activities to do at Mountain Elgon National Park
Mountain Climbing is the most prominent safari activity carried out in the park and this leads you to the highest peak (Wagagai Peak). To get here, follow different trails which include;
- Sasa trail; the shortest but steepest route to the peak taking hikers about 4 days through bamboo forest and the Jackson’s pool.
- Sipi trail; takes 4 to 6 days starting at the forest exploration center at Kapkwai to tutum cave.
- Piswa trail; is a 7 day round trip starting at a village off Kapkwata to podocarps forest. However, hikers can also mix the different trails, ascending by Sipi trail and descending along Sasa trail hence experiencing and exploring various other features of the mountain.
Nature and Hiking walks
Mountain Elgon National Park is very ideal for travellers interested in enjoying Nature and Hiking Walks as these are guided by skilled ranger guides who transfer you through green vegetation, local communities.
The walks start from 2 hours to full days. Some of the walks include; a full Day Hike through Budadiri to Mudange Cliffs referred to as the Walls of Death. En-route, you watch the Black-and-white Colobus monkeys and Baboons.
Abseling is a very adventurous safari activity carried out along the Sipi Falls and includes moving down the cliffs of Sipi Falls at a drop of 100m facing the ridge next to a pool of water from one of the sipi falls. Along the drop enjoy views of the green scenery, birds. Take a dip in the pool then ascend back up to the top of the hill.
Rock Climbing is an exciting activity to carry out around the Park and this takes place at Sipi with 14 Climbs requiring you to use Rock Scaling Techniques. The Toughest Climb is 35m whereas the easiest is 15 m.
Birders from all over the world should transfer to Mountain Elgon National Park to watch various species of birds that can be watched along the Kapkwai forest exploration center to the Chebonet river and the birds you watch include; the white-chinned Prinia, Luhders and Doherty’s Bush-shrikes, Chubb’s Cisticola, African Goshawk, African Blue Flycatcher and Baglafetcht weaver.
Mountain Elgon National Park is a very appropriate for anglers from all over looking to enjoy sports fishing along the 3rd waterfall fall of the Sipi Falls. You transfer with a skilled ranger guide and when you reach the waterfall engage in sports fishing for the Rainbow sprout. You either carry your own fishing equipment or hire this from Sipi River Lodge.
Mountain Biking at Mountain Elgon is very exciting and involves riding on bikes along various routes. All Biking Routes start from the Sipi Trading Center to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa with en-route views of the Karamoja Plains and various waterfalls.
Caving is also a very prominent safari activity carried out around Mountain Elgon for there are various caves that were left by moving lava when the mountain was formed many years ago. The most prominent of all caves is the Kapkwai cave and Khauka cave on Wanale Ridge.