Mount Elgon, located on the Uganda-Kenya border, is one of East Africa’s oldest and greatest volcanic mountains. Both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Kenya Wildlife Services are in charge of the mountain. Mount Elgon is home to at least 300 bird species, as well as a large number of butterflies, not to mention the huge foliage that you must see to believe.
Mount Elgon is the ninth tallest peak in Africa and has the biggest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world, straddling the Uganda-Kenya boundary 120 kilometers northeast of Lake Victoria.
Mount Elgon is the oldest and greatest volcanic peak in East Africa, having initially erupted around 24 million years ago and last erupted about 10 million years ago. It climbs from a 4,000-square-kilometer base through a succession of gentle slopes broken by high cliffs to a height of 4,321 meters at Wagagai Peak, which is located on the Ugandan side of the mountain.
Elgon’s higher slopes are covered with tropical montane forest, with a huge expanse of Afro-Alpine moorland rising beyond it. This unusual flora also extends across the caldera, a 40-square-kilometer collapsed crater near the summit.
It is protected by national parks in both Uganda and Kenya, forming a large transboundary conservation area that serves as a major water catchment area for the region’s population of several million people.
Apart from those traveling through on their route to or from Kenya, the east of Uganda receives comparatively few visitors compared to the west. Mount Elgon, on the other hand, has moderate slopes up to the crater rim peaks and provides a rewarding trek that does not need professional abilities or equipment. A climb on Elgon’s lonely moorlands, in reality, reveals a stunning and unspoiled nature without the summit-oriented approach found on many summits such as Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya.
This is because the ultimate aim is not to reach the summit of Wagagai Peak, which stands at 4321 meters but to descend into the huge caldera once there.
The volcanic slopes, cliffs, caverns, gorges, and waterfalls, as well as panoramic vistas across the broad plains below, will reward trekkers handsomely. Additionally, while hikers must be moderately athletic, there is less chance of altitude sickness and the expense is substantially cheaper when ascending higher mountains.
Mt Elgon’s Ugandan side is better than the Kenyan side?
Facilities on the Ugandan side are better than on the Kenyan side for organizing a climb (and Wagagai is in Uganda), making this a feasible alternative to climbing the peak from the neighboring nation.
The Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) station in Budadiri, which can organize guides, porters, food, and other services for the climb, is the beginning point of the four-day Sasa Trail, which is the most popular, shortest, and simplest of the three paths that summit Mount Elgon.
Exploring the foothills is a great option for people who don’t want to hike to the summit, and it’s a great hiking location that’s both gorgeous and relatively undiscovered by tourists.
There are caves to visit, as well as the beautiful cascading Sipi Falls; endemic plants include giant lobelia, heather, and groundsel; lucky walkers may spot blue and black-and-white colobus monkeys and rare birds in the forests; and most hikes lead to viewpoints where you can gaze up at Mount Elgon’s craggy peaks.
Best time to climb Mount Elgon
Mount Elgon may be climbed at any time of year, although the routes become slick, sluggish, and tiresome during the heavy rains in April and May. The finest months to visit are June-August and November-March, especially in the spring months of November and December when the wildflowers are in bloom.
A set of four caves: Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil, and Ngwarisha, all of which may be explored, is a major draw. Kitum is the biggest, spanning 200 meters horizontally into the mountain’s center. Its name means Place of Ceremonies in Maasai. Mount Elgon, located on the Kenya-Uganda border, is a volcanic peak that erupted when the earth’s crust exploded, forming the Great Rift Valley. The National Park is one of Kenya’s most beautiful, with extensive expanses of unspoilt woodland that are still wild and pristine.
The 5 major peaks of Mt. Elgon
Wagagai (4,321 meters); Uganda.
Sudek (4,302 meters); Kenya/Uganda border
Koitobos (4,222 meters); Kenya
Mubiyi (4,211 meters); Uganda
Masaba (4,161 meters); Uganda
On the Ugandan side, the path to Wagagai is the most popular and takes at least three days to complete.
However, if you want to properly explore this peak, you need take a 5-day trekking tour.
Elgon Forest Wildlife and Birds
The Park is home to an estimated 400 elephants, buffalo, leopards, the endangered colobus and blue monkeys, huge forest hogs, waterbuck, and a variety of other antelope. A total of 240 bird species have been identified.
The forest is dominated by massive Elgon teak and cedar trees, some of which are over 80 feet tall.
Elephants congregate in the caverns on a regular basis. Long convoys of people travel deep into the caverns every night to graze on the salt deposits. They’ve gained the moniker “subterranean elephants” as a result of this nightly phenomenon.
Wildlife; Elephants, buffalo, tiny antelope, and a variety of forest monkeys live in the park.
Birds; More than 300 bird species have been recoded, including several that aren’t seen anywhere else in Uganda. Ancient cave paintings near the trailhead at Budadiri, as well as beautiful caverns and hot springs within the crater, are among the other attractions.
Mount Elgon Hiking
Mount Elgon is also a great place to go hiking and mountaineering. Hiking does not require any particular equipment, and park administration offers guides. On the Kenyan side, Koitobos is the highest mountain (4,200 m.). It may be accessed by driving across gorgeous moorlands and stopping at the hot springs along the route.
The Nzoia, Suam, Kerio, and Turkwell rivers all flow into Lake Turkana, crisscrossing the park.
The Suam River offers sport fishing opportunities. The Park does not have any cabins, but it does have three campsites and one picnic area. Kitum Cave, Makingeni Cave, and the Elephant Bluff are all accessible through three short nature routes.
Mount Elgon Location
Mount Elgon National Park is a 3 to 4 hour drive from Tanzania’s east border with Kenya, with an area of 1145 square kilometers and a 4,321m extinct volcano that rose taller than Kilimanjaro in prehistoric times. Although the mountain spans the Kenya-Uganda border, its highest summit, Wagagai, is located in Uganda and is best climbed from there.
Mount Elgon is a significant watershed, and its slopes sustain a diverse range of ecological zones, from montane forest to high open moorland dotted with otherworldly enormous lobelia and groundsel plants. The biggest draw for hikers on this often-overlooked and reasonably easy peak is the spectacular panorama.
Hiking, walking, and birdwatching are some of the activities available.
Camping is available in the park, as well as a luxury hotel, a midrange hotel, and a budget lodge outside the park.