At 4,000sq km, Mt Elgon National Park has the largest volcanic base in the world. Located on the Uganda - Kenya border it is also the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. its vast form, 80 km in diameter rises more than 300m above the sorrounding plains. The mountains coolest heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for the flora.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffalos also live on the mountain side. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, creating an extensive trans-bordary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.
A climb on Mt Elgon's deserted moorlands unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains; the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321 m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the 40 km caldera.
Activities in Mt Elgon
Birding: There are excellent birding opportunities around Kapkwai Forest exploration centre, in particular the secondary forest and thich shrub along the loop trail to Cheptui Falls. It supports the African Goshawk, Chubb's Cisticola, white-chinned Prinia and Africa Blue Fly catcher among others.
Hiking and nature walks: You will enjoy being amongst the parks primates, birds and rare tree species. Trails lead past caves, view points and waterfalls, with the option of camping overnight on the mountain slopes.
Nature Walks: Enjoy views of Sipi Falls, the walls of death and the African sunrise accross the Karamoja plains on these peaceful walks just outside the national park.
Mountain climbing: Many people find Mt Elgon an exciting alternative to the more strenuous climbs in East Africa. it has many of the same attractions, with a milder climate and a lower elevation, and requires no special equipment or technical experience.
The Sasa trail is the shortest but toughest route to the peaks. The round trip takes about 4 days and starts from Budadiri town at an elevation of 1,250m. The toughest climb of 1,600m is completed on the first day, before crossing the park's largest area of bamboo forest and passing Jackson's pool on the way to Wagagai Peak.
The Sipi Trail takes 4 to 6 days - 56km round trip. Starts at 2,050 m at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration centre. It is the longest trail to the peaks, passing through the northwestern mountainside through Tutum Cave to enter the Caldera and reach Wagagai Peak. The trail begins gently, but becomes tougher on the third day from Kajeri Camp.
The Piswa Trail takes seven days - 49 km round trip. It is a long and the most gentle trail. Starting at the village of Kapkwata on the north side of mountain, it traverses the soft wood plantation of Podocarpus forest. It is notable for its rich wildlife and spectacular views of the Karamoja Plains in Uganda and the Nandi and Kapeguria hills in Kenya. The Piswa Trail also passes the hot springs on the way to the caldera peaks.