Mount Elgon National park is located within the eastern valley covering an area of 1279 square kilometers 140kilometers northeast of the Lake Victoria basin and at a distance of 235 kilometers from the capital city of Uganda (Kampala). The park is split by the borders of Uganda and Kenya each part of the country covering 1110 and 169 square kilometers respectively. The Kenyan component was gazette in 1968 whereas the one of Uganda was gazette in 1992. The upper slope/part is protected by the boards of Kenya and Uganda's National park creating a full transboundary conservation area that has been declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.
Mount Elgon National park got its name after an extinct shield volcano that bordered Kenya and Uganda. The mountain is one of Uganda's oldest physical features and also the solitary large volcanic mountain in the world its first eruption having occurred around 24 million years ago. For years, mountain Elgon was one of the highest mountains in Africa far exceeding the current 5895m of the peak Mountain Kilimanjaro however, due to the ages of abrasion, the peak of the mountain reduced its height to 4321m ranking it the 4th highest peak in East Africa and 8th on the African continent. Standing at 4000km2, Mountain Elgon has the foremost important volcanic base within the East African geographical area. The Mountain is an important water catchment for the Nzoia River, which flows to Lake Victoria, as well as River Turkwel which is referred to as (Suam River) in Uganda, which flows into Lake Turkana.
A bestride Mountain Elgon’s deserted moorlands unveil a formidable and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains, the ultimate travel goal on reaching the very best of Mountain Elgon is not the fascinating gradient to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the ancestry into the vast 40km² calderas.
The climate is moist to moderate dry. Annual rainfall is over 1,270 millimeters. The dry season spell occurs from June to August and from December to March, however, it can rain at any time of the year.
The vegetation within the National park varies with the altitude. The cool heights of the mountain offer relief from the new plains below, with the upper altitudes providing a sanctuary for flora and fauna. The vegetation varies from montane forest to high open moorland scattered with lobelia and groundsel.
The park is diversely covered with podocarpus, juniper, and Elgon olive trees, pillar wood Cassipourea malosana, elder Sambucus adnata, pure stands of Podocarpus gracilior, and many orchids. The mountain slopes are covered with Aningueria adolfi-friedericii and olive Olea hochstetteri with montane forest. However, this changes to olive and Podocarpusgracilior forests at higher altitudes.
Mountain Elgon is home to two tribes, the Sabuny and the Bagisu. The Bagisu are also known as the Bamasaba, who consider the Mountain to be the picture of their founding father (Masaba) and talk about the mountain by this name.
The amazing flora and fauna within the park create a range of scenery which includes cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, calderas, hot springs, and also the mountain peaks. Activities which are done here include;
Though this takes place outside the park at Sipi.
Mountain biking which runs from Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town, provides views of varied waterfalls
Community visits Take part in a guided walk to the community through the coffee plantation as you enjoy views of sipi falls, the walls of death and the African sunrise across the Karamoja plains all on these peaceful walks just outside mountain Elgon park.
Get to know where your coffee comes as well visiting community empowerment groups guided by the sipi widows’ group demonstrating a way to plant, pick, store, grind, and wash the coffee. Learn about the lifetime of the Sabiny, as you meet local residents, and also participate in traditional activities of weaving, cooking as you find out about African cuisines through the preparation, and tasting of local dishes.
Hiking Many travelers find Mountain Elgon as a thrilling alternative to the more strenuous climbs in East Africa because it has more of the identical attractions, with a milder climate and lower elevation, and requires no special equipment or technical experience for one to climb to the peak of the mountain.
Bird watching/ birding Mount Elgon park is home to a minimum of 144 bird species making it a wonderful destination for any bird lover harboring the endangered bronze-naped pigeon, Jackson's spurfowl, Hartlaub's turaco, the Tacazze sunbird which are of particular interest to the birders because of their restricted range as well as butterfly watching is also a thrilling activity within the park as the park harbors half of Uganda's butterfly species.
Other attractions/activities include
• Vehicle circuits resulting in animal viewing areas, the caves, and the Koitoboss peak. • Self-guided walking trails • Hiking to Endebess Bluff and Koitoboss Peak • Primate watching • Cave explorations • Camping photography