Mount Elgon National Park is located in the eastern part of Uganda stretching to an area of 1145 square kilometers, it is named after the extinct volcano mountain Elgon whose existence is linked to the tectonic activity situated at 4321m high above sea level its highest peak being Wagagai. Mountain Elgon national park was created in 1968 and gazette in 1993 declaring it a UNESCO world heritage site, the highland areas protect a large number of flora and fauna and the lower areas showcase falls including the famous Sipi Falls a must-see to the Elgon area, it is a potential area for hiking favouring mostly budget travellers. It is an important water catchment area with rivers shading their water into Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana.
It is occupied by two indigenous tribes the Bagisu and the Kalenjin, the Bagisu refer the mountain to the home of their first founder Masaba, deriving the Name for the mountain locally as Masaba. The mountain seems to have been well known by the Arab travellers that moved during the 19th century the first person to document its existence was Henry Morton Stanley.
The national park originates the series of the beautiful Sipi Falls, flowing right from the forest to form magnificent attractive waterfalls, there are well-established trails, for example, the Sipi trail, the Sasa trail that can enable you to reach the bottom of the waterfall. The mountain was once the tallest in Africa, however, due to eruption and erosion it ceased its position, the mountain has the largest foot base in Africa being occupied by people, its caldera being the widest compared to other volcanic mountains in Uganda, hiking the mountain is not so popular but peaking as tourists are interested in mountaineering, it is best explored on foot.
The vegetative cover on Mount Elgon National Park is similar to the other east African mountains, the forest supports an afro-montane forest, montane forest, bamboo, and alpine vegetation studded with giant lobelia and groundsel, the mammals are poorly known however a few are habitats including elephants, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, waterbucks, oribi, duikers, primates like the black and white colobus monkeys and the blue monkeys could be spotted here, it boasts with a big number of over 300 species of birds 12 of which have not been listed in another Ugandan park, birds like the African reed warbler, little rush warbler, yellow-bellied hylicota, African hill babbler, thick-billed honeyguide, Jackson’s francolin, moorland francolin, mustache green tinker bird, hunter’s cisticola, alpine chat, marsh widow bird, and the red-throated wryneck.
Hiking mountain Elgon will lead you to amazing different vegetative covers and hikes can be done throughout the year but best during the dry seasons, these can be organized through the Uganda wildlife authority or park staff, several hiking routes are present the most popular is has been a four day trip from budadiri to Wgagai following the sasatrail, a six-day trip following the Budadiri Kapkwata through Wagagi hot springs. Trips can be organized to hike the mountain Elgon with advice from the park staff on which best trail to take, other activities include guided nature walks visiting the local community.
The two ethnic groups live on the foot base of mountain Elgon national park each of which has distinctive cultural norms and traditions The Bagisu have a rich cultural background having yearly circumcision ceremonies every year divisible by two as known to the traditionalists, they perform this ritual as a way of transforming the teenagers into adulthood, they will show you different uses of the forest, the food that is collected from the forest to mention their staple food “Malewa” gotten from bamboo shoots. The Kalenjin are the only ethnic group in Uganda in the early traditional days they used to practice female mitigation as a way of initiating girls to adulthood not until the president of Uganda banned the activity because of side effects on the girl child.The exploration center is an attractive destination for hikers and excursionists who don’t have to stay for a night at the Elgon, the center was originally designed as a student hostel point but made a tourism base it offers a good opportunity to see associated monkeys and birds.
The national park is approximately 6 hours drive from Kampala the capital of Uganda by road, they have well maintained the route to the national the park is well situated that one can have a stopover in Jinja at the source of the Nile.