Mountain Elgon National Park-Hiking Tours in Uganda
Covering a large surface area i.e (50km by 80km) as compared to that of any volcano in the world, Mt. Elgon is situated in the eastern part of Uganda along the border with Kenya and an extinct volcano that initially erupted more than 24 million years ago.
The Mountain ranks the fourth highest mountain in Eastern Africa with the second-highest peak (Wagagi Peak – 4321 metres ) in Uganda and includes the largest volcanic foundation all over the world. It consists of a crater at the top that occupies approximately 40 kms with many rugged peaks around it. Mountain Elgon National Park has thick forest vegetation that acts as a habitat to more than 300 species of birds and wildlife like the rare Lammergeyer.
Other wildlife species include the candid antelopes, monkeys, Elephants, buffalos which inhabit the slopes of the Mountain. Climbing the isolated moorlands of the Mountain exposes the magnificent wilderness without taking on a summit oriented approach as done amongst the other mountains. After climbing high up to the Wagagai peak shouldnot be one’s final destination since descending into the huge beautiful caldera is more exceptional due to its lively features.
Activities at Mountain Elgon National Park
Birding at Mountain Elgon National Park is such an exceptional experience due to a variety of different species of birds that make the whole activity worthwhile. There is also another secondary forest located near the camp along the Chebonet River with bird species like the African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catchers, Chin-spot Batis, Mackinon’s Fiscal, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bush-Shrikes and Baglafecht Weaver. One can also encounter superb birding opportunities when they are at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre situated in the inferior forest and thick shrub next to the round trail to Cheptui Falls.
Our Top Safari Tours
Here, you will spot birds like the African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Flycatcher, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders Bush-shrikes, Baglafecht Weaver, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Olive and Bronze naped pigeons, Black Kite and Black collared Apalis.
When at Mountain Elgon National Park, you will encounter the local people in the area like the Bagisu and Sabiny. Here, you will discover how and where good Arabica coffee comes from for it is grown along the sides of the mountain. This is also referred to as Sipi / Bugisu by the farmers who have made a legacy when it comes to growing and producing premium washed Arabica coffee both in Uganda and Kenya.
You will be led by the Sipi Widows’ Group which will show you around while on a guided trail throughout the coffee plantains where they will inform you about how it is planted, grinded, picked, washed and stored. You will also be introduced to the Sabiny community group who will teach you a lot like traditional weaving, preparing African cuisines, cooking and tasting local dishes etc. You will also visit the women’s hand craft shop situated in the trading center where you will grab and take some crafted materials with you after the safari. Profits gained from this are used to maintain the coffee trees along the mountain, eradicate people about the risks of circumcising women and paying school dues for orphans.
You can also involve yourself on the Budadiri Community walks in Budadiri where you will encounter guided coffee tours, community nature walks and cultural dances from the local people along with accommodation if you need any. If you love nature, you can involve yourself on any of the three trails which include the full day Namugabwe trail which goes via the BaMasaba community land and banana plantains towards the chronological cave of bones, the Dirigana loop trail that proceeds to t he Dirigsana Falls towards the Gabushana cave through local markets and then to the Walls of Death. One can also embark on a three day walk to Sipi Falls where they will discover the traditions and customs of the two neighboring tribes.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Hiking and Nature walks at Mt. Elgon are an activity no one should miss out on since while on this; you will encounter a variety of wildlife species like the birds, primates, rare tree species, etc. Walks that lead past the caves, waterfalls, sightings while taking overnights over the inclines of the mountains can be provided to. You can embark on a 7km (4hr) trail over the mountain through the tropical bamboo forest to Kapkwai cave where you will spot various primates and birds flying in rare species of trees for example the Elgon olive and Elgon teak.
You will also walk to the Chebonet Falls which will take you about 5km then proceed to the Tutum cave in about 11km and here you will have an overnight in the tent near the cave. While in Wanale, you can also visit the Khauka cave a distance that will take you about 3-4hrs or proceed to experience beautiful sightings via the Nabuyoga loop and these include the Wagagai peak and Jackson’s summit. You can also take on short day hikes that involve going to the Mudagi cliffs, Sasa River camp and Drigana lower falls which are very good for nature walks, bird watching and overnight camping.
Mountain/ Volcano Climbing
Climbing Mt. Elgon is an activity every traveler enjoys due to the fact that it has various tourist attractions with placid climate and lower altitude. It does not require one to have special equipment/ technical experience climb to the top of this mountain. There are various trails one can follow so as to reach the top and among these is the Sasa trail which is the shortest.
This is quite challenging to use since it requires you to transfer through the community areas while discovering the various attributes of the BaMasaba community along with their cultures and customs in a period of 4 days. This begins at Budadiri town at an altitude of 1,250m with the most challenging climb of more than 1,600m taking about 24 hours to be done.
You can also follow the Sipi trail which will take about 4-6 days i.e 56km and the trip begins at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre in 2,050m. This is a lengthy trail that involves moving via the north western part of the mountain and the Tutum cave to access the caldera and the Wagagai peak. This trail begins calmly despite the fact that it gets challenging on day 3 after the Kajeri camp.
Alternatively, you can also take on the Piswa trail which takes 7 days (49km) and this is the most lengthy and gentle trail for it begins from the village of Kapkwata in the northern part of the Mountain. As you move along this trail, you will spot wildlife, the Karamoja plains in Uganda, Nandi and Kapeguria hills in Kenya, hot springs etc.
Mountain biking at Mt. Elgon national Park starts at the Sipi trading centre then proceeds to Chema hill situated in the town of Kapchorwa. This takes 1.5 hours and while trailing, you will have clear views of various magnificent waterfalls along with the Karamoja plains. Bikes/cycles can be rented to make the entire activity flexible and fun.
While at Mt. Elgon, involve yourself on a nature walk to spot the various tourist attractions like the Sipi Falls, the Walls of Death and the traversing sunrise along the Karamoja plains on the African continent. These walks are very peaceful and usually take place outside the park including day hikes that start from Budadiri towards the Mudange cliffs which are referred to as the walls of Death situated in the thick tropical rain forest along the borders of the park and inhabit primates like the black and white Colobus monkeys, blue monkeys as well as the baboons which wander around even via your tracks. You can also walk to the Sipi falls with the help of a guide from the local community in a few hours. While on this trail, you will have tremendous sightings of the terrain, vegetation and some wildlife.
Rock climbing at Mt. Elgon National Park takes place outside the park at Sipi and involves taking 14 various routes along different levels of rock. To do this appropriately, one should have good balancing methods to enable them carry out the activity effectively without any inconveniences. The simplest climb is about 15m where as the hardest is takes 35m and these include beautiful sightings of the Falls and the Karamoja plains. The climbing gear can be rented at the Sipi Falls Tourist Guides Association.
Sport fishing at Mountain Elgon National Park is carried out over the highest of the three waterfalls at Sipi and provides an exceptional experience for all visitors (anglers) that come to explore them. It is quite a challenging activity though very motivating since it increases your curiosity and determination to go further till the top.
While here, you will clash with the beautiful fierce rainbow trout that has stunning colors and is usually pointing straight and down into the water i.e, the biggest weighs about 3kgs. Fishing is carried out in specific allocated areas and anglers are advised to carry their own fishing gear as well as a permit from Sipi River Lodge in order to fish.