MOUNT ELGON NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Elgon is a 4,321m high extinct volcano which in prehistoric times stood taller than Kilimanjaro does today. Although the mountain straddles the Kenya border, its loftiest peak, Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best ascended from the Uganda side. It contains the largest intact caldera in the world, a collapsed crater measuring over 40 Km. at the top. Elgon is an important watershed, and its slopes support a rich variety of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane forest to high open moor land studded with the other-worldly giant lobelia and groundsel plants.
Visiting Mount Elgon presents an exciting setting for extended hikes, interesting and unique flora and fauna, magnificent water falls, enormous caves, scenic peaks, gorges and hot springs which bubble up at 48ºC (118ºF). No technical climbing equipment or skills are required, as all major peaks are accessible.
Hiking/trekking is the most popular activity carried out in the park. While ascending Mt. Elgon’s enchanting slopes, one can meet four distinct forest types; the lush montane forest where the Elgon peak is, mixed bamboo belt, the fascinating heath and the spectacular moor land hyrachs which contain stands of some of the rarest and endemic plant species, like the giant Lobelia elgonensis and dotted clusters of peculiar groundsels, which are unique to Africa.
The Sasa trail is the most direct route to the peaks, though steep with a rugged climb of over 1600m on the first day. It passes through the park’s largest area of bamboo forest. The Sipi trail offers the spectacular Tutum cave hidden with extensive forest while the Piswa trail is renowned for the towering podocarps forest, an excellent place for wildlife viewing.
Campsites are located at strategic points along the trekking circuit. A trained ranger will lead the trek and enrich the journey by interpreting the environment and ensuring safety. Local porters make your trip even easier by carrying up to 18 kg of supplies, in addition to collecting water, cooking and preparing the camp.
Bird lovers can enjoy about 300 bird species, including the endangered lammergeyers, the rare Jackson’s Francolin, sunbirds, Turacos and many more. A number of primates inhabit the mountain. Other animals including bushbuck, antelope, civet, wildcat, and the elusive leopard roam below. Bush duiker, hyena, jackal, rock hyrax, buffalo and elephant rove between the forest and moor land. Many of these animals visit the caves for valuable mineral deposits.