Mount Elgon National Park's main visit attraction is Mount Elgon; an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya, north of Kisumu and west of Kitale. The mountain's highest point, named "Wagagai", is located entirely within Uganda.
Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its vast form, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in diameter, rises 3,070 metres (10,070 ft) above the surrounding plains. Its cooler heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below, and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.
Mount Elgon National Park is a national park 140 kilometres (87 mi) northeast of Lake Victoria. The park covers an area of 1,279 square kilometres (494 sq mi) and is bisected by the border of Kenya and Uganda. The Ugandan part of the park covers 1,110 km2 (430 sq mi) while the Kenyan part covers 169 km2 (65 sq mi). The Kenyan part of the park was gazetted in 1968, the Ugandan part in 1992.
Mount Elgon National Park’s vegetation is banded into broad zones whose characteristics are dictated by altitude and rainfall. The lower mountain slopes are covered with dense forest and regenerating forests, hung with vine-like lianas, epiphytes and lichens. The floor is covered with a carpet of ferns, orchids and flowering plants. Common tree species encountered in the tropical montane forest (1,500-2,500m asl) are olive Oleahochstetteri, prunus africanas, Elgon teak, podocarpus, cedar, Cordia, Neoboutania, allophyllus tombea and Aningueriaadolfi-friedericii.
The zone changes to mixed bamboo at 2,500-3,000m. The bamboo merges into open woodland dominated by hagenia abyssinica and African rosewood interspersed with hypericum – a giant form of St. John’s wort.
The heath zone (3,000-,3500m) is characterized by giant heather interspersed with grassy swards of blonde tussock grass dotted with pink and white everlasting flowers (ericriceum brownie and jonstonii) , flame-coloured gladioli, blue delphiniums and red hot pokers.
The moorland or Afro-alpine zone (3,500-4,321m) contains senecio elgonensis, Erica tree, giant lobelias with hairy leaves and plumes of tiny blue flowers, ladies’ mantle tussocks (archimilla elgonesis) and pink and white everlasting flowers. The summit of the mountain is vegetated by rare Afro-montane species that include giant forms of lobelia and groundsel.
Together with the fauna and flora, the park has a variety of scenery; this includes cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, calderas, hot springs, and the mountain peaks. The most popular areas are the four explorable, vast caves where frequent night visitors such as elephants and buffaloes come to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls. Kitum cave, with overhanging crystalline walls, enters 200 m into the side of Mt. Elgon.
At the Endebess Bluff there a panoramic view of the areas' escarpments, gorges, mesas, and rivers. The highest peak of Mt. Elgon on the Kenya side, Koitoboss, measures 13,852 ft (4,155 m), and is easily reached by hikers in about two hours from the road's end. Activities include
Mount Elgon Caves:
Jackson’s Pool and Jackson’s Peak:
The peaks and the caldera:
Nkokenjeru Ridge and Wanale:
Mount Elgon National Park supports a variety of wildlife including rock and tree hyraxes, elephant, buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hog, bush pig, leopard, civet and serval cats, serval cats, spotted hyena; aardvark and several rodent species. However these animals are rarely observed in the forest setting. More commonly seen creatures are the black-and-white colobus; baboons; red tailed, vervet, De Brazza’s and blue monkeys; duiker and tree squirrel.
Mount Elgon Natioanl Park is home to 300 birds including 40 restricted range species. 56 of the 87 Afrotropical highland biome species live here, notably the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird and Alpine Chat. Birds whose Ugandan range is limited to Mount Elgon include the Jackson's Francolin and Black-collared Apalis. Among those limited to just a few mountains in eastern Uganda are the Black-shouldered Kite and Tacazze Sunbird. Mount Elgon is one of the few places in Uganda where the endangered Lammergeyer can be seen, soaring above the caldera and Suam Gorge.
Mountain/Volcano Climbing in Mt. Elgon:
Many travellers 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 lower elevation, and requires no special equipment or technical experience. Many travellers find Mt. Elgon an exciting alternative to the more strenuous climbs in East Africa. It is easier to access throughout the year, less congested and has many of the same attractions, with a milder climate and lower elevation. Climbing the peaks requires no special equipment or technical experience.
Birding in Mt. Elgon:
Excellent birding opportunities exist around Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, in particular in the secondary forest and thick shrub along the loop trail to Cheptui Falls. It supports the African Goshawk; Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia and African Blue Flycatcher among others.
Hiking/Nature Walks in Mt. Elgon:
Lucky hikers in Mt Elgon will enjoy being amongst the parks primates, birds and rare tree species. Trails lead past caves, viewpoints and waterfalls, with the option of camping overnight on the mountain slopes.
The 7km (four-hour) mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave passes through tropical and bamboo forest. Along the trail are many primates, birds and rare trees such as Elgon teak and Elgon olive. The 5km walk to the Chebonet Falls and 3km walk to the Kapkwai caves follow the ridge view trail. There is also an 11km hike to the Tutum Cave, with the option of camping overnight beside the cave.
Cultural Encounters in Mt. Elgon:
Find out where your coffee comes from! Grown on the mountain side of Mt Elgon is Arabica coffee - also named Sipi or Bugisu by the farmers - who have a reputation for producing some of the finest washed Arabica in Kenya and Uganda.
Mountain Biking in Mt. Elgon:
Mountain biking trails run from Sipi trading centre to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town. It should take 1.5 hours and provides views of various waterfalls. A mountain biking trail runs from Sipi trading centre to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa town. It should take 1.5 hours and provides views of various waterfalls and the Karamoja plains. Bikes can be hired from Sipi River Lodge.
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