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Mount Elgon National Park

Mountain Elgon National Park lies on the slope of Mt. Elgon, an extinct Volcano in Eastern Uganda along the Uganda Kenya Border. The park covers 1,145 square kilometers, and it acts as a protection to the higher slope of the mountain.

The mountain is the oldest and largest solitary volcanic mountain in the East African Region. Its top measures 80Km in diameter and rise to 3000m above other surrounding plains in the Karamoja region.

Mount Elgon is 4,321m above sea level, and the highest peak is Mt. Wagagai. Eras of erosion have reduced the height of the Elgon peaks, downgrading its position to the 4th highest peak in East Africa.

Mt. Elgon has a 40 km long and 8km wide Caldera at the top, and this is a vast and fantastic spot that everyone would love to encounter on a hike to this impressive mountain.

The higher altitudes and astonishing heights of mountain Elgon are home to various species of flora and fauna. The deserted moorlands, Montane forests and bamboo forests, heathers, and Afromontane lobelias. Several caves like Kapkwa and ridges like Wanale, hot springs, and waterfalls all form a great deal of attraction to this park. 

Some of the common wildlife species in Mt. Elgon National Park include; the rock and tree hyraxes, Defassa waterbucks. Elephants, Buffalos, Bush pigs, Bushbucks, duikers, forest hogs. And cats like Leopards, civet and serval cats, aardvarks and Spotted hyenas. Primates like the Baboons, Vervets, Black-and-white colobus, Red-tailed, De Brazza’s, Blue monkeys, and other mammals like Duikers and Tree squirrels, the most commonly spotted species.

Some of the most commonly encountered bird species among the 300 species recorded in Mt. Elgon include; the Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Lemon Dove, Dusky-Turtle Dove, African Hill Babbler, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Alpine Chat, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Thick-billed Honeyguide, and Grey Cuckoo-Shrike. The Jackson’s Francolin and Black-collared Apalis are exclusively limited to Mount Elgon ranges. The Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze sunbird are qualified to just a few mountains in the Eastern Uganda region.

Hiking mount elgon national park uganda activities

Activities At Mount Elgon National Park

Many activities await you in the park and the surrounding slopes of Mountain Elgon. Forest exploration with many animal and avian species to see the fantastic vegetation along different altitude zones.

Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, Birding, along the loop trail to Cheptui Falls, is one of the best, with chances to spot African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola White-chinned Prinia and African Blue Flycatcher, African Hill Babbler, and many more.

Hiking Mt. Elgon is a rewarding experience; 3 – 7 day hikes will enable you to reach the summits of different peaks. However, the vital objective may not be to reach the highest Wagagai peak at 4321m but to descend into the amazing Caldera.

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls

Hiking the Elgon follows several routes, including;

  • Sasa trail is the shortest and most direct option to the peak; it ascends from Budadiri in Sironko valley and takes 3-4 days. 
  • Sipi trail, which is longer 4-6 days but gentler ascent, 
  • Piswa and Suam route located on the northern side of the mountain 
  • Jackson’s pool, standing beside the Sasa trail. Using all these routes, you traverse through the distinctive vegetation zones, the lowest covered with dense montane forest and regenerating forests, draped with lianas, epiphytes, and lichens; this gives way to the bamboo forest followed by groves of giant heather. The mountainside opens into moorland dotted with outlandish forms of giant lobelias and groundsels as you proceed. This activity provides an excellent opportunity for the hikers to check out vast caves, hot springs, waterfalls, cliffs, and gorges, participate in overnight camping, nature walks, and birding. 

Cultural Walk and Visits: Mountain Elgon has communities surrounding it, namely; the Bamasaba, known as Bagisu; these are the most dominant people in the area. They occupy the western and southern slopes of the mountain. The Sabiny people also know the Sebei living in the north and northwestern slopes of Elgon, occupying Kapchorwa, Kween, and Bukwo. They are well known for their colorful bi-annual Imbalu ceremony, which initiates boys to manhood through circumcision. They do circumcision on both teenage boys and girls to initiate them to adulthood and the Ndorobos, who mainly dwell deep in the forest.

Sipi on the Kapchorwa side is rich in cultural encounters and coffee tour experiences. You will encounter the lifestyle of the traditional duelers on the slope of Mt. Elgon.

Cave exploration, Waterfalls, and nature walk on the Sipi side of the mountain are the most rewarding and relaxing adventures.

Rock climbing and Abseiling; It involves a hike to over three basalt cliffs, each flowing at different altitudes called the “Sipi Falls.” A walk to these dreamy waterfalls comes with a clear view of the Karamoja lowlands, Lake Kyoga from a distance, and coffee plantations in the surrounding areas. Once you are at the top of the most powerful falls, you will have a chance to participate in “Abseiling,” a skill of climbing down steep rocks with affirm fastened device to your harness. Rock climbing and Abseiling take place 7km in Sipi valley, immediately outside the national park. 

Mountain biking; The Sipi area has much to offer mountain bikers, ranging from a casual exploration of the many lovely trails in the vicinity to the challenging Elgon and Sipi River Lodge that hosts this activity.

Mount Elgon National Park

When to Visit Mt Elgon

You can visit Mountain Elgon whole year-round, and the best time to climb the mountain Elgon is during the dry season; usually January – March, June – August, and December. April-May and September to November are wet months, and the park can get extremely cold due to heavy rains, and the slope gets wet and sleeper. However, it is essential to note that the park is in the mountains, hence unpredictable rainfalls. 

How to get to Mountain Elgon

Mountain Elgon national park is approximately 270 kilometers away from Kampala and less than 5 hours’ drive. There are public transport means by bus and matatu from Kampala to Mbale, the nearest town, but these do not reach the park. So it is recommended to use tourist vehicles with an experienced driver guide.

What to Bring

Are you planning a hike to the summit on Mt. Elgon? Walking boots are necessary, yet sturdy shoes are sufficient for general walking.
Mt. Elgon gets cold at the top; warm clothing and a decent sleeping bag, a raincoat, and waterproof trousers are essential.
You need plastic bags to separate wet and dry clothes.
Enough snacks, energy bars, and sweets. Tents, camping mats, and other essential climbing gear.

Accommodation around Mt Elgon

Along UWA’s established hiking trails, there are self-catering well-maintained camping sites.
While at the foothills, there are several accommodation facilities that you can use for pre or post Hiking adventures.

Sipi River Lodge; is in Kapchorwa at the slope of mt Elgon on the backdrop of Kasurur falls. Sipi River Lodge is famously near the three spectacular falls that make the Sipi falls network. The lodge offers five cottages and three bandas to give you the comfort you desire, especially after a hike in the area.

Rafiki lodge Sipi; is a luxurious lodge with family cottages, Banda’s, and honeymoon suites, its located on the cliff of Mountain Elgon, giving perfect views of the Sipi falls. 

Sipi falls resort; is a luxurious lodge built within the park with charming rooms built using local materials. The resort offers self-contained rooms and two luxury cottages to cater to clients who need more luxurious facilities. 

Fred son’s homestay, for those who would prefer to stay with local communities Fredson,  homestay could be your best option in Namisuni at 123 Sipi Street. It’s an elegant homestay with eight open-fronted rooms and an ideal place for families.

Lacam Lodge, Sipi Falls Resort, Sipi Falls Lodge, Sipi Sunset Lodge, and Sipi Valley Resort are other accommodation options.

In Mbale Town, we have Mbale resort Hotel, Mt. Elgon Hotel, Wish and Wills Hotel, New Mt. Elgon view hotel, Crown suites hotel, and many others.

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