Mount Elgon National Park (Things to do and see – Accommodation)
Mount Elgon national park is found in the Eastern Region of Uganda although many travellers go for a hiking adventure to Mountain Rwenzori national park and miss out to explore Mount Elgon on a Uganda safari. The mountain lies on the Uganda and Kenya boarders and offers spectacular hiking opportunities on a 4 day sasa trail. It is an extinct volcanic mountain with the largest surface area in the world and the highest peak being Wagagai, which is at 4,321 metres above sea level. The complete hiking circuit to the peak takes five days either from Sasa or Sipi trails. Birds Nest Safaris can organise your trip departing and returning to Sipi Falls. Sipi Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Uganda. There are three waterfall levels, two are small and the main one is at 95 metres high and attracts majority of the visitors who go for locally guided walks to the falls. Most lodges in the Sipi area have great views of these water falls. Travellers easily connect to Mount Elgon from Sipi Falls and can also combine a wildlife safari to PianeUpe wildlife reserve and or Kidepo Valley National park with a cultural visit to the Manyatas; (traditional homesteads of the Karamajog).
To hike Mount Elgon, a traveller doesn’t need special hiking gear and or skills to get to the highest peaks and it is possible to also go for guided community and forest walks. A traveller can choose to go for a 1 day hike or 5 days hike.
There are different trails one can choose to go for that offer beautiful sights and sounds of the flora, hot springs, elephants, small antelopes, lakes, caves and water falls and not to forget the abundant birdlife. We offer a bird watching Uganda safari which can be customized to include a bird watching tour to Mount Elgon which is home to about 300 bird species that include the endangered Lammergeyer (Gypaetus barbatus)
Geography and climate of Mt. Elgon National Park
The climate at Mt. Elgon National park is moist to moderate dry. Annually, the mountain receives rainfall of over 1,270mm.
June to August and December to March are dry months although it can rain at any time of the year. April to October are the wettest months. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 23° and 15 °C respectively.
Maathai’slongleg, which is an endangered dragonfly was discovered in the park in 2005 and named after Nobel Prize winner Wangari Mathaai.
Important to note is that half of Uganda’s butterfly species have been found in the Mt. Elgon region
Flora and Fauna of Mount Elgon National park:
The Mountain has dense montane forests and mixed bamboo forests that support birds and bird watching. There are also the heath and moorland zones that have rare endemic plant species such as the Giant Lobelia and groundsels. The Flora and Fauna of Mount Elgon also supports primates such at the blue monkey and the black and white colobus monkeys and countless birds such as the Tacazze sunbird, Ross’s and HartlaubsTuraco, Black-and-white-casqued and crowned hornbills, Golden sunbird, Lammergeier, which is endangered and the Jackson’s Francolin. Look out for duiker, hyena, leopard and buffalo and you hike through
Guide porters and rangers Mount Elgon National Park:
The guides that will take you through the mountain hikes are trained, knowledgeable, certified in natural, cultural, emergency first aid and communication.
Porters will give you moral support and will help carry up to 18kg of your hiking and camping gear, as well as prepare your meals as you hike up and down the mountain. These porters are affordable and we highly recommend that you hire one since you are also contributing directly to the locals. The cost package covers the porter’s, guide and park entry fees. During the climbs, you will also be with a ranger guide for safety reasons especially from animals
Top things to do in Mt Elgon National park- Uganda adventure safaris (Activities inside Mount Elgon National Park)
Day hikes in Mount Elgon National park. A visitor can go for day hikes from Budadiri or in the Mount Elgon Forest Exploration Centre. The center has 3 day hikes of about 3 and 7 km and offer visitors great chance to experience Mount Elgon and its plant and wildlife in a short time. There is also a new and 4th trail to Tutum cave which has also been opened. It is 11km from the exploration centre. This trail has vegetation that supports black and white colobus monkeys and different types of birds found in the region
Mountain hiking on Mount Elgon: Mount Elgon has two main starting points that get to the highest summit of the mountain. There is the Sasa trail that can easily be accessible from Mbale. The sasa trail passes through the biggest area of the bamboo zone. With this trail, however, comes a very steep and rugged hike of about 1600m on the first day. The less steep climb is via the Pisa trail which starts from Kapkwata. With this route, you will discover Podocarpus forest, which is also a bird watchers haven. To get to the highest peak, it takes 4-5 days to complete the full circuit. We have 2 packages that can take visitors to the peak in those days. We recommend that you visit the park in the drier months of June-August and December-March, however, it is possible to trek the mountain even during the wet months.
Birding watching safaris: There are about 300 bird species in Mount Elgon National park, which makes it an idea place for bird watching. The forest area a long the Chebonet River supports many birds like the Chubb’s Cisticola, Mackinon’s Fiscal, African Goshawk, African Blue Fly catcher, White chinned Prinia, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush Shrikes, Chin spot Batis and Baglafecht weaver. We have bird watching safaris which can be tailor made to including birds of Mount Elgon National park.
Game viewing: The Mountain supports primates and mammals giving visitor an opportunity for game watching. Expect to see see which include forest monkeys that include the black and white colobus and blue monkeys, elephant, buffalo and small antelopes that include the duikers.
Activities outside Mount Elgon National park
Sipi Falls hikes: Visitors can visit Sipi Falls at the foot of Mount Elgon. It is about 66km from Mbale town to the beautiful Sipi Falls. There are different trails visitor goes through to get to the falls passing through local communities and their farms. There are local guides who can take you to the three waterfalls of Sipi.
Abseiling and rock climbing at Sipi Falls: This is the only place in Uganda where you can go for abseiling down the 100m Sipi Falls. It is safe and some of the equipment used was imported. The activity doesn’t require special training and it is perfect for the adrenaline junkie. Visitors can also go for rock climbing
Caves: There are a number of large caves here that are worth a visit. Some of the caves especially the one near the trail head at Budadiri has painting
Viewing cave paintings near the trailhead at Budadiri
Accommodation in Mount Elgon National park:
Mount Elgon National Park has basic accommodations available
Kapakwata Guest House and Exploration centre at Kapkwai: Visitors who wish to stay at this guest house should make prior reservations through Mount Elgon National park visitors’ office in Mbale town. The accommodation is small and visitors should bring their own food or money to buy food upon arrival as they prepare for the park’s activities. A kitchen is available too. However, you do not have to go through the hustle and let Bird’s Nest Safaris organize everything.
Camping: Mount Elgon National Park has 5 basic campsites that are located strategically a long the hiking circuits. You can only camp at campsites designated by the national park. All camping equipments must be brought by you and some like the tents and sleeping bags can be hired from the park office in Mbale.
What to Bring to Mount Elgon National park
Below is the list of some of the things we recommend that visitors bring for their activities in Mount Elgon.
- Sleeping bag
- Warm clothing
- Sturdy hiking shoes
- Flash light
- Bottled mineral water
- Rain gear
- First aid kit
- Enough food supplies
How to get there to Mount Elgon National park
Road transport: From Entebbe and Kampala on Jinja road, it takes about 6 hours to Mbale and about 1 hour to the Elgon. This depends on the thickness of the traffic on Jinja road high way. The road is very good too and paved all the way.
If you are interested in hiking Mount Elgon, contact us and we will make it happen.