Mount Elgon National Park- the Mountain with the World’s Largest Caldera
Mountain Elgon has for so many years is one of the underappreciated attractions in Uganda hence many visitors shun the idea of making a trip to this mountain as part of their grand Uganda safari. However, for those few who have made this park as one of their destinations to visit during their Uganda tour, they have been fascinated by what this park has to offer when it comes to the diversity of attractions and activities to be done while on A Uganda safari tour to this incredible mountain. As we finalize our 11 part series of Uganda’s safari destination you should visit in 2020-2021, we would like to give you an insight into the this underappreciated but yet spectacular national park
Where is Mountain Elgon National Park found/ located?
A Uganda safari to Mt Elgon National Park takes on a 256km or a 5-hour drive from Kampala city the capital of Uganda in the eastern district of Mbale. The park is bordered by Kenya in the east, Kapchorwa district in the north, Kumi and Soroti districts in the west and Lake Victoria in the southwest. The park covers most of the mountain Elgon which spans over a distance of 180km in diameter. Mt. Elgon national park covers a distance of 1,276sqkm in total both in Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda, the park covers 1,110sqkm while in Kenya it covers169sqkm
How was mount Elgon formed?
Formed by tectonic uplift, mt Elgon is an extinct shield volcano with crater lakes high above in its ranges, its believed to be about 24 million years old making it East Africa’s oldest extinct volcano.
Who was the first European explorer to see Mount Elgon?
Joseph Thomason a Scottish explorer was the first European explorer to visit Mount Elgon in 1883. Thomason only visited the southern side of this mountain but he didn’t not ascend to explore its upperparts. It was Fredrick Jackson Ernest Gedge who were the first Europeans to climb mount Elgon and explored the Caldera on top of this mountain from North to South.
What is the local name of Mount Elgon?
The Bagisu who are some of the local people who stay on the lower slopes of this mountain refers to mt. Elgon as “mt. Masaaba” and according to the Bagisu, Masaaba is believed to be their founding father.
What are the weather conditions in Mt. Elgon National Park?
As you prepare for your Uganda hiking tour here, you have to understand that Elgon experiences a variation in temperature given its variation in height. The areas below 2000m above sea level experience temperatures between 25-30oC, areas between 2000m-3000m above sea level have their temperature in the range of 15-20oC, areas between 3000m-4000m have their temperatures varying between 0-10oC. This essentially means that if you’re considering what to pack on A Uganda safari tour to this park, you will need clothes that will keep you warm in the upper part of the mountain which is cold and also a raincoat jacket in case it decides to rain while you’re here. Sunglasses shouldn’t miss among the list of items to pack to protect your eyes from the incessant tropical savanna heat, sunscreen, and insect repellent should also make it to this park list. If you’re an ardent birder, a good pair of binoculars will always come in hand as this park is home to over 300 bird species hence you may need to zoom and get a clear sight of several of these birds which might be far away from your eyesight.
Does Mount Elgon have snow?
No, Mount Elgon as of today, doesn’t have snow on its peaks although this mountain used to have snow on its highest peak of Wagagai a long time ago due to changes in the climate as a result of global warming, it has lost its snow cover. However, if your interest is to see snow in Uganda, you can have your desire granted due to the presence of Mountain Rwenzori, sighting snow is a reality in Uganda and if you take 7-8 days during your Uganda wildlife tour or Uganda gorilla safari to engage yourself in a stunning Uganda hiking tour to the summit point of this mountain, I assure you, you will be in for a snow treat in Uganda given that this mountain raises up to a staggering 5109m above sea level.
What is the highest peak of mountain Elgon?
The highest peak of Mountain Elgon is called Wagagai and this raises up to an astounding 4321m above sea level making it the fourth-highest point on the African continent behind Tanzania’s Mountain Kilimanjaro and Kenya’s Mount Kenya Mountain Rwenzori in Uganda respectively.
Does Uganda have other mountains apart from Elgon?
Yes, Uganda has many other mountains besides Elgon and these include Mountain Moroto found in the Eastern end of Uganda on the borderline with Kenya. Mount Rwenzori in Western Uganda along the Uganda Congo borderline. Deep in the Southwestern corner of Uganda lies another chain of mountain ranges called the Mgahinga ranges. These mountain ranges are part of the larger Virunga ranges which consist of 8 ranges that are shared by three countries of Uganda Rwanda and Congo. This, therefore, means if you don’t want to spend many days hiking to the summit of Elgon during your visit to Uganda, you still have quite a number of different mountains you can possibly hike other mountains around the country.
Can I trek mountain Elgon?
Yes, you can ably trek the Elgon mountain and if you wish to go all the to the top of this mountain, you will need to hike for 4-7 days to get there and return. A hike to the top of this mountain can be achieved following any of the following trails Sasa trail, Piswa trail, and Sipi trail. However, you can also enjoy shorter hikes in this mountain that take on 1-3 days hiking adventure on this mountain
What are the attractions to see in Mount Elgon National Park?
Elgon National Park is gifted with rich biodiversity that is evidenced by the existence of numerous flora and fauna species
What fauna attractions are found in Elgon National Park?
Elgon is home to numerous mammal species and these include African civets, the pygmy flying squirrel, several primate species such as the De brazza monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and other animals include the serval cats, spotted hyenas, forest elephants, and forest buffaloes, duikers and leopards but these are rarely sighted.
Besides animals, a visit to Mount Elgon National park puts you on a cultural encounter with 2 tribes of people that live on the slopes of this mountain and these include the Bagisu and the Sabiny. The Bagisu people are commonly known for their cultural practice of male circumcision which is an initiation ceremony that ushers boys into manhood while the Sabiny are infamous for their female genital mutilation
It’s considered unjust when you talk of attractions in Mount Elgon and you don’t speak of the Sipi falls. These falls are considered as some of the most waterfalls in the world given their unique flow. These falls are subdivided into 3 phases which flow at different phases and heights. The biggest of these three is 100 meters in height. As draw closer to the falls during your hike here, you will be welcomed with a thunderous roar of these falls and when you finally get to them, they will take your breath away as you see thousands of gallons of water plummeting over 100 meters below into an abyss like a cave. If you don’t mind getting yourself wet, you can move inside the caves and get behind this big wall of water falling past you. Take as many photos as you can to have this moment captured forever. From here, hike to the top of this falls where you will spectacular views of the Elgon ranges.
What Bird species can be seen in Mount Elgon Park?
Elgon national park is an incredible destination visit while on A Uganda birding safari simply because this park is has got over 300 bird species in its backyard. Some of the bird species that have made this park a stunning Uganda birding tour destination include Moorland francolin, mustached green tinker bird, Jackson francolin, Black-collared Apalis, Black-shouldered kite, Tacazze sunbird and the endangered Lammergeyer bird and many others.
How do I get to Mount Elgon National Park?
Depending on how much time you have and how long you want to stay in Elgon National Park during your Uganda safari, you can decide to fly or to drive to Elgon Park. However, flights to Soroti airstrip are very few hence you might need to contact your travel agent to check if you can get a flight to that side of Uganda. If you choose to drive to Sipi where this mountain is found, I can guarantee that you won’t regret this choice because it’s a very fascinating 6-7 hour drive to get this park. As you embark on this 256km journey expect to have several stops such as one at the Najjembe local market and this which gives you an opportunity to take your taste buds on a culinary journey as you taste some Uganda’s purely organic tropical fruits that will tantalize your taste buds due to their absolute sweetness. Other things that may come your way is Uganda’s very own KFC version of chicken and this will be a roasted chicken skewered on sticks and if you aren’t a fussy feeder, this is your moment to have a taste of this fire-grilled finger lingering goodness. You will drive through the tea and sugarcane plantations that from afar may seem like an expansive football field. Your next stop will be in Jinja town where you will have an opportunity to enjoy a soothing boat cruise to the source of the Nile river the longest river on the planet and see the point where this river begins its remarkable 6650km journey all the way to the Mediterranean seaboard in Egypt. You will have your lunch break here then embark on the reminder of your journey to Mount Elgon in Kapchorwa.
What activities are done in Elgon National Park?
Mt Elgon National Park is rich with a wide range of biodiversity including wild mammals, birds, and the Bagisu people that are found on the lower slopes of the mountain. This, therefore, makes this park a very unique place to visit as you can engage in quite a number of activities such as an epic hiking adventure to the top of the mountain, cultural encounters, birding, nature hikes, and primate tracking. Abseiling and fishing
What are the safari lodges/ accommodations that are found in Elgon National Park?
Elgon Park has got a wide range of safari lodges that are located within or on the fringes of this incredible conservation area. These lodges range from luxury to mid-range and budget types.
luxury safari lodges in Rwenzori include:-
Sipi River Lodge
Midrange lodges here include:-
Mbale Resort Hotel
Sipi River Lodge
Budget safari Lodges include:-
Kapkwai Forest Camp
This brings us to the end of our series on Uganda safari destinations to visit in 2020-2021
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On top of an epic Uganda safari adventure to many of these savanna parks, you have an opportunity to encounter mountain gorillas. Yes, a Uganda gorilla tour experience is very possible when you visit gorilla trekking Uganda destinations Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. A Uganda gorilla safari to any of these parks gives you an opportunity to meet any of the 19 gorilla families that have been habituated to give you nothing but the ultimate Uganda gorilla tours experience, you can ever think of.
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