Mount Elgon National Park is one of the formidable attractions that make Uganda the Pearl of Africa. The park covers a surface area of 1,279 square kilometres and is magically bisected through by the Uganda – Kenya border. 169 square kilometres of the park’s surface area is found in Kenya and the bigger 1,110 square kilometres is situated in Uganda. The Kenyan part of the park was gazetted in 1968 while the Ugandan halve was declared a national park in 1992.

The park was named after the legendary Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano which first erupted over 24 million years ago and was once Africa’s highest mountain, higher than even the renowned Mount Kilimanjaro. A climb to Mount Elgon is one of the highlights of a safari tour to Mount Elgon National Park. Unlike most mountains, a climb to Mount Elgon is not inspired by the desire to conquer its summit but is defined by the fascinating descent into its vast 40 square kilometres volcanic Caldera – Mount Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world.

The slopes of Mount Elgon area home to the indigenous Sabiny and Bagisu tribes. The Bagisu are also referred to as BaMasabawho consider Mount Elgon to be the shrine of their founding father – they call the mountain ‘Mount Masaba’ because of their ethnic attachment to it. Mount Elgon National Park is a habitat to over 300 bird species and numerous mammal species.

 

Activities to do in Mount Elgon National Park

Volcano climbing

Ascending to the peaks of mountain Elgon and the descent into its volcanic Caldera are major highlights for a safari tour to Mount Elgon National Park. There are a number of probable routes to take for a successful climb to the mountain peaks; the Sipi trail which is the longest route, Sasa trail which is the shortest yet toughest route and the Piswa trail which is a long yet most gentle trail. Climbers can also opt for the trans-boundary hike where they can ascend to the volcanic Caldera through the Uganda route and then cross the border into Kenya while descending to the floor of the mountain. Depend on the chosen routes, climbers get a chance to encounter varied wildlife species and attractions including the hot springs.

Birding

Birdwatching is one of the exciting safari activities to do during your Uganda safari holiday and wildlife tour to Mount Elgon National Park. The park has a number of birding spots including; thick shrubs, the area around Cheptui falls, and Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre. The bird species to see include but not limited to;Chubb’s Cisticola, African Blue Flycatcher, African Goshawk, White-chinned Prinia, Chinspot Batis, Cinnamon Bee-eater, Tacazza Sunbird, Black kite, Moustaches Tinkerbird, Olive and bronze Napped Pigeons, Black-collared Apalis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal and Doherty’s Bush-shrike.

Hiking and Nature Walks

At the boundary of the park is the famous Mudange cliffs – dabbed the ‘walls of death’ which you reach by undertaking a walk from Budadiri. The hike to the cliffs allow you a chance to encounter baboons, black-and-white Colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, among other primates which inhabit the tropical forest. The other hikes and walks include a walk to the Chebonet Falls, atrial to the Kapkwai caves, a hike to the Tutum Cave, a Visit to Khauka Cave, a hike to Jackson’s summit and Wagagai peak. In Budadiri, there are short day hikes to; Sasa River Camp, Mudagi Cliffs, and Dragana lower falls.

Cave Visits

Engrafted in the walls of Mount Elgon are the peculiar caves which have salty walls. Mammals especially elephants and buffalos frequent the caves especially in the night to lick the salt on the walls. Over the years the caves have been growing to deeper and a visit to them is a thrilling expedition. The other amazing attribute to encounter while at the caves is the fascinating ancient paintings. The bold paintings are said to have existed since the stone age.

Sport fishing

Sports fishing is the other adventure to enjoy during a safari tour to Mount Elgon National Park. The park has areas that have been designated for fishing by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). After acquiring a fishing permit, visitors are able to embark on an exciting fishing excursion. The rainbow trout is the preferred target for most of the anglers because of its beautiful outlook and ‘wrestling’ ability.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is the other thrilling adventure to engage in while on your safari tour in Mount Elgon National Park. There a number of biking trails available, the main one running from Sipi trading centre to Chema Hill in Kapchwora town. The bicycle ride offers a beautiful view of the waterfalls, the pristine forests, wildernesses and plains.

Cultural Encounters

There are a number of significant local groups and communities around the park, and an encounter with them is a chance to discover Uganda’s rich culture, the way of life and means of livelihood. An encounter with the Sipi Widow’s group is a chance to discover where Uganda’s delicious Arabic coffee comes from. Selected group members will take you on a guided walk through the coffee plantations and demonstrate how coffee is planted, picked, grinned and stored.

Tourists also enjoy visits to the Budadiri Community group located in Budadiri. The community has a local performance group which normally entertains visitors with music, cultural dances and folklore which are normally done in the evening at campfires. An encounter with the Bagisu (BaMasaba) and Sabiny – local tribes, make a classic African Safari in Uganda – the Pearl of Africa.

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