Mount Elgon National Park is located in Mbale district, in the Eastern part of Uganda along the Kenya- Uganda border. The park derives its name from Mount Elgon that was named after It ranked the 8th highest mountain in Africa and it has the largest volcano base in the world with a size of 4000 square kilometers. The cool heights of the mountain offer a higher altitude providing a refuge for the flora and fauna.
It was established in 1993 when the government of Uganda gazetted an area covering 1121 square kilometers as a national park. The park was established majorly to conserve and protect the wildlife and vegetation. The park is located 235 kilometers away from Kampala City.
Mountain Elgon is a home to two tribes, the Sabinyo and the Bagisu. The mountain has 5 major peaks and the highest one is wagagai. The lower slopes of the mountain are covered with tropical montane forests.
The Park is a home to several species of wildlife. And the slopes are also comprised of various caves left by moving lava and erosion of soft volcanic deposits that erupted years back. The river Sipi is found on mountain Elgon which forms the spectacular Sipi falls.
What to see in Mountain Elgon National Park
Mountain Elgon has one of the highest peaks in Africa. Hiking mountain Elgon takes between 4 to 6 days depending on your level of fitness and pace. The unique part about hiking the mountain is reaching its highest peak called Wagagai while spotting the largest caldera on the land.
The park has different species of animals such as elephants, small antelopes, buffalo, blue monkeys, white colobus monkeys etc. These animals attract big numbers of tourists to the park.
Mountain Elgon National Park harbors about 300 species of birds making it a haven for bird researchers and watchers. Some of the birds found in the park include; chinspot Batis, African Goshawk, White-chinned Prinia, African blue fly catcher etc.
The Tutum Cave Hot springs which are believed to have healing powers and are located inside a cave with in Mount Elgon National Park premises.
The peaks and the caldera.
Nkokonjeru bridge and wanale hill. This is a distinguishing finger of the forest. The ridge provides ground to travelers interested in paragliding over Mbaale town.
The park acts as a home to the Bagisu people who reside on the mountain’s slopes. These people share their traditional stories and cultural dances and beliefs with the visitors giving them an opportunity to experience a different culture.
Mountain Elgon National Park has several caves which have interesting history and can be visited by the tourists. Caves in the park include; the Kitum Cave, the Ngwarisha & Kapkwai caves and Mude cave.
What to do in Mountain Elgon National Park
Game drive and wildlife viewing
Game drives are arranged to take the tourists to the best location to see animals and some of the animals that can be sighted are Leopards, hyenas, and several primates like monkeys.
This activity involves spotting birds in different places, the park is a home for many birds like crowned hornbills, white-chinned Prinia, and many more.
Forest and nature walk
This is an exciting experience where tourists encounter kapakwai cave following the ridge view trail while they are viewing points and waterfalls.
This takes place at sipi falls outside Mount Elgon national park, this activity rewards the great view of the fall and the Karamajong plains.
Mountain biking in mount Elgon national park.
This activity is carried out on a magnificent trail that runs from the Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchwora town.
The park and the surrounding are suitable for anyone interested in camping. The camping is especially for those who are hiking to the mountain which is set up by the park authorities.
This activity takes place in the sipi area where the fish are caught and released back into the water.
Accommodation in Mountain Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park has several accommodation options which cater for both budget, mid-range and luxury visitors by offering standard and executive rooms at affordable prices depending on your pocket/budget. Some of the accommodation options in the park include;
Sipi River lodge offers luxury accommodation and is located in magnificent Sipi Falls. The lodge offers luxurious rooms and en-suits with private bathrooms, a bar and a restaurant serving both local and international foods.
Mount Elgon Hotel is a luxury accommodation option located in Mbaale district in eastern Uganda. The hotel has luxurious rooms that are convenient for business vacations, tourists, families, and romantic couples.
Mbale Resort Hotel is a five-star hotel located in Mbaale city and basically suitable for Luxury travelers. The hotel offers executive rooms which give extra comfort to the visitors.
Kageyi Hotel is a mid-range accommodation located in Mbale senior Quarters. The hotel has a wonderful view of the Wanale Mountain range and it offers comfortable rooms depending on the visitor’s budget.
Noah’s Ark hotel. This is a budgeted accommodation located on the slopes of Mountain Elgon. The hotel offers both standard and luxury rooms to the visitors according to their budgets.
Best time to visit Mountain Elgon National Park
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season which runs from June to August and December to February. During little or no rainfall at all is received. During this period, the weather is so favorable that tourists can move through the park premises and climb the mountain with no hinders.
However, Mount Elgon National Park is open to tourists all year round although some seasons provide a better experience than others.
During the wet season, the park offers a better experience for bird watching and researching. During this season, the area receives big amounts of rain making the park’s vegetation rich hence a better welfare for the animals.
How to get to Mountain Elgon National Park
There are two modes of transport you can use to get to the park and these are; by road and air. Obviously, the fastest way to reach the park is by air/flight although it is a bit more expensive compared to use of road transport. There are several airlines at Entebbe International Airport of Uganda and Kajjansi Airstrip that offer flights to Kisumu Airstrip.
The Journey from Kampala to Mountain Elgon National Park is approximately 227 km by road and takes 9 to 10hrs to reach the park. By road transport, one can use a route from Kampala-Jinja Road through Mbale town to the park.
You can as well choose to go on a self drive or hire a driver to Mountain Elgon National Park from one of our sister car rental company. The visitor should make it a point to book for a scheduled or chattered flight as early as possible in order to secure his/her trip.