Mountain Elgon is situated in the prominent Mountain Elgon National Park covering an area of 1145 km2 East of Uganda near Mbale Town.
The Mountain is an extinct Volcano and one of Uganda’s ancient physical features elevating to about 4,321 meters stretching across the border of Uganda and Kenya with Wagagai peak being the highest point on the Mountain.
The Mountain is a watershed of many different rivers i.e River Sipi which proceeds forming the prominent Sipi Falls which comprises of three different waterfalls i.e Waterfall 1, Waterfall 2 and Waterfall 3. These are very appropriate for anglers around the world who transfer here to fish the rare Rainbow Sprout.
For birders around the world and are looking for exceptional birding encounters, the park offers unique exciting birding experiences and various birds can be seen around Kapkwai Forest Exploration centre then the loop trail to Cheptui Falls and birds like the African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Flycatcher, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders Bush-shrikes, Baglafecht Weaver, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Olive- and Bronze-naped pigeons, Black Kite and Black-collared Apalis etc.
If you are a vivid photographer and birder, visit the park to have exceptional experiences while tracking the beautiful bird species around the world.
The Savannah Elephants of Mt. Elgon
Mt. Elgon National Park is located along the border of Uganda about 100 kms north of Lake Victoria and western Kenya.
It is also referred to as an “Elephant den” due to the fact that it inhabits a large number of elephants i.e 100 individuals which are prominent around the caves despite the fact that the numbers reduced due to increased poaching for ivory around the 1980s and 90s.
They get salt hungry since their plant diet does not provide them with enough minerals like sodium so they go deep into the natural caves in the sides of the mountain to lick salt.
They then exhume the mineral rich rock with their tusks breaking off coarse chunks and eating the salt as a vital diet increment. These elephants are referred to as Savannah elephants also known as the Loxodonta Africana Africana.
The beautiful terrain of the area includes rocky slopes, shrubs, forest trees, legendary volcanic caves with lots of salt and many elephants.
This has enabled the elephants to live longer from one generation to another. Kitgum cave is the most prominent among caves that have been visited by the elephants which has led to their continuous expansion over the years.
These elephants are the only elephants that go salt mining in the dark caves around the entire world so conserving and protecting these is a priority so that they don’t run into extinction.
The Kitgum cave is referred to as the ‘Place of Ceremonies’ in Masai due to the fact that it is frequently visited and extends about 160m into the mountain.
Wildlife animals as well as primates and these include; colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, leopard, giant forest hog, bushbuck, eland, buffalo, duiker, golden cat etc.
Mountain Elgon Hike
Mountain Elgon is estimated to be at least 24 million years old hence being the oldest volcano in East Africa. The mountain is an extinct shield volcano situated along the eastern and western border of Uganda and Kenya in the north of Kisumu and west of Kitale.
Culture Close to Mountain Elgon National Park
There are various cultures of people around the tremendous Mountain Elgon National Park and these have different tribes, traditions, norms and customs. These appear similar to the Masai people in Kenya. These belong to different tribes as stated below.
The Bagisu people also referred to as the Bamasaba inhabit the western and southern slopes of Mount Elgon also called Mount Masaba. The slopes of the mountain are in a hand fingers structure due to the narrow and steep valleys that traverse along.
These are prominently recognized for their unique norm of Imbalu circumcision which takes place after every two years in August.
These claim that this place originally belongs to them for their ancestors Mundu and Sera came out a hole in the tremendous Mountain Elgon also known as the Masaba.
These were considered to belong to the Maasai tribe in Kenya which was not true for they have small tribes i.e the Kony, Sapei, Pok and the Bungomek where they belong.
Combined together, these form the Saboat tribe. The Saboat people have similar cultural practices with the Kalenjin people mainly the Nandi and these have used the slopes of the tremendous Mountain to the fullest by taking on activities like agriculture, cattle keeping.
The caves are very important to these people for they have been used by cattle which get there for salt and also acted as refuge in times of inter-tribal conflict and bad weather. The salt from the caves was also used for preserving food and trapping elephants which were usually hunted.
The Teso people are believed to have migrated from the Karamajong region and theses regard the area around the Mountain very important hence being a prominent tribe along the Mountain. These have influenced their close neighbours i.e the Luo, Pokot, Kalenjin etc.
The Sabiny people are famously known for various cultures and customs but the most prominent practice is the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) where they cut off the clitoris of the ladies/ women to reduce their sensitivity and sexuality (libido).
However, these are also prominent hunters, agriculturalists and hardworking people for the days when Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are gone due to the fact that this cultural practice has faded out after eradication was passed so as to introduce these people to civilization.
Mountain Elgon National Park comprises of four major caves also referred to as lava tubes that are available for hiking and exploring and these include the Kitum, Chepnyalil, Mackingeny and Rongai caves.
Kitum Cave is found in the tremendous Mt Elgon National Park along the border of Kenya and Tanzania. This became very prominent around the 1980s when two European visitors contracted the Marburg virus. Various animals get here to feed on the sodium rich salts although; elephants are the most common animal here.
The cave is a non-solutional cave formed in pyroclastic (volcanic) rocks expanding approximately 200 metres (700 ft) into the slopes of the tremendous Mountain Elgon close to the border of Kenya and Uganda.
The cave walls are very rich in salt so wildlife animals have transferred to this place in search for salt for centuries. For the elephants in specific, use their tusks to break off pieces of the cave wall to chew and swallow.
The other animals that also visit the cave oftenly include the bushbuck, buffalo and hyenas. There is also bat guano deeper in the cave from fruit-eating and insectivorous bats and a deep crevasse into which young elephants fall and lose their lives.
Mackingeny Cave is the most beautiful of the caves with settlements of vast fruit bats and candid horseshoe bats towards the back.
On your trail, you will spot the spectacular waterfalls flowing across the entrance. Carry the appropriate foot wear so as not to get any inconveniences while trailing along the various routes.
Nature Walks at Mt. Elgon National Park
There are various trails at Mountain Elgon National Park and these proceed through the various caves, viewpoints and waterfalls.
The Sasa river trail is the most prominent here despite the fact that is the shortest trail to take and toughest for it requires physical fitness as well as determination.
It is located on the western part of the mountain though with various routes i.e the Piswa trail on the Northern side and Sipi trail on the North western side.
It begins from Budadiri for a period of 4-5 days and ends here as well. It starts at Budadiri center where you will find the Uganda Wildlife Authority for briefing. You will be driven for a distance of 6 km from Buddadiri (1250m ASL) to the trail head at Bumasola (1711m ASL).
You will transfer through communities in a distance of 3 km then later on, you will move further into the sky in a distance of 2 km then later on, you will reach the wall of death and the 300m high Mudange cliffs which used to be climbed using ropes something that has changed today fro they have been replaced with metals to enhance easy movement.
As you proceed further, the thicker the tropical forest will get. After some time, you will reach the Sasa River camp where you will leave later to get to the Mude cave camp.
After leaving the Mude Cave Camp, the trail that leads to the Wagagai summit leads you to the unique Jackson’s summit and table.
On your way, you will find the trail that goes to the hot springs and you will proceed straight towards the summit then later, you will find the shallow Jackson’s pool.
After sometime, you will reach the tremendous summit with a sign post marking the top and while here, you will have beautiful views of the caldera, hills and valleys.
Trails and Caves of Mt. Elgon National Park
There are other trails like the Mude cave Camp trail to the hot springs, the 7km (four-hour) mountain bamboo trail to Kapkwai Cave and this proceeds through tropical and bamboo forest where you will have a chance to spot many different primates, birds and rare trees like the Elgon teak and Elgon olive.
The 5km walk to the Chebonet Falls and the 3km walk to the Kapkwai caves and here you will pass through the ridge view trail.
There is also an 11km hike to the kitum Cave which is the most prominent cave among all. Around Wanale, a visit to Khauka Cave takes 3-4 hours with an option to transfer through Nabuyoga loop where you will spot the Jackson’s Summit and the famous Wagagai peak.
Alternatively, take on short day hikes in Budadiri and include the Mudagi Cliffs, Sasa River Camp and Drigana lower falls which are perfect for birding, nature walks and camping in the night.
Mbale Resort Hotel
Mbale Resort Hotel is a luxury hotel situated in Mbale town offering cosy accommodation to all travelers around the world.
Situated close to the majestic Mountain Elgon, Mbale Resort Hotel is the place to stay for all travelers looking for luxury accommodation while on safari vacation at Mt. Elgon National Park
Sipi River Lodge is situated in the Sipi Falls area extending to a distance of about 17 acres of personal land including the 80 meter Kapsurur Falls, vast green gardens and different caves. These are allocated into various units i.e the Kapsurur and Aniet Cottage at the Lodge.
There are also two initial cosy cottages that have been constructed and these are spacious and elegant, offer beautiful views of the waterfalls have en-suite bathrooms with double showers, king sized double beds, extra twin bed and a lounge area.
Mount Elgon Hotel & Spa is situated in the vast beautiful town of Mbale offering mid-range accommodation to all travellers on safari vacation.
It only requires one 4 hours to drive from Entebbe airport to this destination and is very appropriate to those looking for a serene place to stay at while on vacation holiday in Uganda.
Staying at this hotel provides extraordinary opportunities to discover the mysteries of the majestic Mountain Elgon, spot the large coffee plantation, the Wanale Hills as well as the Sipi Falls.
Masha Hotel is a mid-range hotel situated along the borders of Kapchorwa offering accommodation to all kinds of travelers worldwide that visit and transfer to Mountain Elgon National Park on safari vacation.
There are 23 different rooms available to provide accommodation and these are differentiated into singles and doubles. Some are self-contained where as others are not.