Activities Within Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park is found within Eastern Uganda (at the border with Kenya), near the Town of Mbale and covers an area of 1145 square kilometers. This Park was named after Mount Elgon, an extinct Volcanic Mountain that stands at an elevation of 4321 meters above sea level.
Mount Elgon has four magnificent peaks that include Wagagai (the highest at 4321 meters), Kiongo at 4303 meters above sea level, Mubiyi (standing at 4210 meters) and the Jackson’s peak (at 4165 meters). Additionally, have you heard about Imbalu Public Circumcision? If yes, then this area is the home of the Bagishu people known for that hilarious practice.
Much as the spectacular scenery of the Mount Elgon is the main attraction of this National Park, there are also a number of wildlife species found within the area and they include Buffaloes, elephants, antelopes such as Defassa waterbucks, duikers and bushbuck and several forest primates in addition to over 300 species of birds including 40 species that are restricted to the Mount Elgon only and nowhere else in Uganda. Other interesting attractions that capture the attention of tourists include beautiful Caves and Rock Paintings as well as the nearby Sipi Falls that will blow your mind. Below are some of the fascinating tourist activities while on your holidays to Uganda in Mount Elgon National Park.
Nature walks or Hiking
There are several areas that offer opportunities for nature walks but the full-day hike from Budadiri to Mudange Cliffs (also the walls of Death) at the National border of the Park offers unforgettable experiences. The area is found within the lush Tropical forest where several primates like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and olive baboons can be sighted along the way.
This activity is conducted above the highest of the three Sipi waterfalls (outside the Park) and offers anglers with interesting challenges as they battle with the rainbow trout (largest being 3 kilograms) due to its stunning coloration and fighting ability. Sport fishing is confined to some specific gazetted areas but prior booking is not required and interested tourists are advised to carry their own equipments much as a permit has to be acquired (from Sipi River Lodge).
Cultural tours around Mount Elgon National Park lead tourists to the Sipi Widows’ Group to discover about how the coffee we relish is grown, learn about the lifestyle of the Sabiny people (one of the main tribes occupying areas of the mountain), learn about some of their local cuisines and participate in basket weaving. Also, a visit to the Budadiri Community rewards tourists with cultural dances, guided coffee tours, comfortable accommodation and community tours where tourists also get the chance to discover how local food is prepared.
Mount Elgon National Park has a well developed biking trail that runs from Sipi Trading Center to the popular Chema Hill in Kapchorwa and lasts about one and a half hours, offering participants with the riveting views of the breathtaking waterfalls and the vast Karamoja Plains. Interested tourists can always hire Bikes from Sipi River Lodge.
Mount Elgon National Park offers one of the matchless birding opportunities in the country and perfect spots are around Kapkwai Forest Exploration Center especially within the secondary forest and dense shrub along the loop trails stretching over the Cheptui Falls. This area offers sights and sounds of Black-collared Apalis, Chinspot Batis, Luhders Bush-shrikes, White-chinned Prinia, Tacazze Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys Bush-shrikes, African Blue Fly-catcher, Hartloub’s Turaco, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Chubb’s Cisticola, Black Kite, African Goshawk, Baglafecht Weaver, Mustached Tinkerbird, Bronze-napped pigeons and many others.
Climbing to the three Peaks of Mount Elgon
Mountain climbing is conducted through a number of trails that include the Sasa Trail (shortest route to the Peaks) and passes through community land to experience Bamasaba Culture, the Sipi Trail (longest trail) that lasts 4-6 days and starts from Kapkwai Forest Exploration Center and the Piswa Trail lasting 7 days and is long but the most gentle of all the trails. It begins from Kapkwata village on the northern side of Mount Elgon and passes through the soft wood plantation to the Podocarpus forest.
This should not be mistaken for mountain/volcano climbing and is conducted outside the Park, at Sipi Falls area with over 14 climbs available and all require tourists to be physically fit but the more challenging is the 35 meter climb and the easiest being just 15 meters. Climbing equipments are hired from the Sipi Falls Tourist Guides Association.
Other activities you can enjoy when you visit Mount Elgon national Park include Camping, visiting the Abayudaya Jews in Uganda and finally exploring the beautiful Sipi Falls.