ABOUT MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Mount Elgon National Park is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve located along the border between Uganda and Kenya. It was gazetted in 1992 and covers an area of 1,110 square kilometers. The park gets its name from Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano which first erupted more than 24 million years ago. Mt Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain, far exceeding Kilimanjaro’s current 5,895m. Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4,321m, relegating it to the 4th highest peak in East Africa and 8th in the continent. The main tribes living in the Ugandan side of the park are the Sabiny and Bagisu. These tribes rely on subsistence farming. The Bagisu have specialized in the growing of Arabica coffee which does well in the fertile soils on the lower slopes of the mountains.
CLIMATE IN MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
The climate in Mt. Elgon national park is moist to moderate dry. Annual rainfall is over 1,270 millimeters. The dry seasons run from June to August and from December to March, although it can rain at any time.
This mountain is an enormous watershed and its slopes support a rich diversity of altitudinal vegetation areas that range from the lush Montana, the mixed bamboo-belt forest to the intriguing high open moorland, dotted with the really uncommon worldly plant species such as the large lobelia plus the groundsel plants unusual to Africa. The thick shrubs and luminous wild eternal flowers are another major attraction to enjoy here.
WILDLIFE AND BIRDS OF MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Mount Elgon National Park is home to a plethora of wildlife. The lower slopes of Mount Elgon is home to Elephants, Buffaloes and a variety of Antelopes. The dense montane forest contains primates such as the black-and-white colobus Monkeys and the Blue Monkey. The park is also home to over 300 species of bird, including the endangered lammergeier.
- Exploring the caves – Explore some of the numerous caves on the slopes of the mountain. The three most visited caves are Chepnyali, Mackingeny and Kitum. These caves attract park mammals like elephants and antelopes that come to lick salt from the walls.
- Bird Watching – Birds can be spotted in several places including the thick shrubs of the park, the Cheptui falls and at the Forest Exploration centre in Kapwai. The park is home to many bird species including the endangered Jackson’s Francolin and lammergeyer which are only found in Mount Elgon national park.
- Hiking/Nature Walk – The heavy rains and fertile soils in Mount Elgon National Park support the growth of thick forest and other vegetation that make nature walks extremely fulfilling.
- Game viewing – Mountain Elgon national park is a great place for game viewing. Game drives takes tourists to the best wildlife locations here. Among the animals to look out for are the hyenas, leopards and duikers.
- Camping: Mountain Elgon National Park and the surrounding are suitable for camping but no camping near the caldera. The park authorities have set up camping bases along the mountain climbing trails for those hiking to the top of the mountain.
- Visiting waterfalls – The rivers that flow from the top of the mountain pass though the cliffs forming beautiful waterfalls. The Sipi falls are the most attractive waterfalls in the area. These beautiful falls are located just outside the park boundary before the Forest Exploration Centre. Therefore reaching the falls requires hiking through local village homes and farmlands.
- Sport Fishing – Mount Elgon and Sipi Falls are known for having mountain/rainbow trout. The fishing activity starts in the morning. Guides are available to take anglers to the best fishing spots.
- Mountain biking – The Uganda Wildlife Authority opened mountain biking trails in year 2012. The entire Mountain Elgon Region including Mbale and Kapchorwa has good biking routes.
- Cultural Experience – Experience the local culture of the different tribes that live at the foothills on Mount Elgon. Their unique way of life also acts as a tourist attraction.
There are several attractions which tourists encounter on their visit to this park and they include the following;
- Caves – This is one of the stunning attractions found in Mt. Elgon national park. It was formed by moving lava and erosion of soft volcanic deposits. The most famous cave is Kapkwai caves.
- Mount Elgon – This is the major tourist attraction in the park where different tourist activities take place such as hiking and mountain climbing.
- Wildlife – The park boasts a diverse of animal species such as small Antelopes, Duikers, Ribs, Waterbuck, Defassa, bush pigs, Civet, Serval Cat, Aardvark, forest hogs as well as forest Monkeys like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkey among others.
- Birdlife – The park is also a bird watchers paradise and home to over 300 species of bird, including the endangered lammergeier.
- Mountain Caldera – The crater Calder covers more than 40 kilometers at the summit and is actually the largest known natural crater.
- Culture – Mt Elgon is home to two tribes, the Bagisu and the Sabiny. The Bagisu, also known as the Bamasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba and refer to the mountain by this name.
ACCOMMODATION IN MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK
There are accommodation facilities within and outside the park. Most of the hotels offer a combination of luxurious, mid-range and budget rooms. You can also find these luxurious hotels facilities in Mbale town, Kapchorwa town and the Sipi Falls area. The accommodation facilities include; Kapkawi Forest cottages, Mbale resort hotel, Mount Elgon hotel and spa and Kayegi hotel among others.