Mount Elgon is an extinct volcanic mountain with the largest surface area in the world (50km by 80km) and a caldera with a diameter of about 8 km. The highest peak is Wagagai, 4.321 m. It lies at the border with Kenya. The National Park is 1.145 kms in extension. The local people, Bugisu used to call the mount “Masaba”, while “Elgon” is named after the Anglicization of the Masai “El Kony”. The best time to visit Mount Elgon is May and September, November and December.
While ascending Mount Elgon, there are four different forest zones: the lush montane forest, the mixed bamboo belt, the heath and the spectacular moorland hyrachs, which contains rare species like the giant Lobelia Elgonensis and clusters of groundsels which are unique to Africa. At least 300 species of birds are recorded, including Jackson’s francolin, guinea fowls, sunbirds and Turaco. The checklist for mammals includes at least 24 species.
There are several trekking trails around Mount Elgon, all open to everybody as this is not a difficult mountain to climb (Sasa, Sipi and Piswa trials). The full trekking circuit to the peaks takes 5 to 6 days to complete. The nature walks allows you to see flora and fauna, the enormous caves, gorges and hot springs. One day hikes are possible from the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkway. Particularly fascinating is the hike from Sipi trading centre to the Sipi Falls, a series of four pretty waterfalls culminating in a 99m drop at an altitude of 1.775 m, along the river Sipi, which originates from Mount Elgon.
Mount Elgon National Park lies 235km east of Uganda’s capital city. A tarmac road runs through Jinja to Mbale town at the western base of Mount Elgon, before climbing to Kapchorwa on the mountain’s north-western flank. Tarmac road lead off the Mbale-Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.
There are several accommodation facilities: Mbale resort hotel, Mountain Elgon hotel (Luxury) Sipi falls lodge, Lacam lodge (Mid-range) and budget camping sites