What to do in Mt. Elgon National Park, Safari Uganda

Mount-elgon-climbMt. Elgon national park gets its name from the fact that Mt Elgon is located within that gazette piece of land. Mt. Elgon is volcanic in nature and its known for having the largest volcanic base compared any other in the whole world. It is the oldest and also biggest isolated volcanic mountain in East Africa, situated along the border on Uganda and Kenya therefore shared by both nations and can be visited during our exciting Safaris in Uganda. This mountain has a diameter of 80km and rises as high as more than 3,000m above its surrounding plains.

Its cool heights provide a breather for the hot plains at the lower levels. At the higher altitudes, you can find the fresh and healthy flora and fauna. This is why the higher slopes of this mountain are under the protection of the national parks in both countries thereby forming a large trans-boundary conservation quarter and it was sometime back was identified as a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.

What to do in Mountain Elgon National Park

This place attracts a huge number of tourists both the locals and the internationals who are interested in one or more activities done in this park which include;

Mountain climbing

Mountain climbers, you will have an amazing time because climbing Mt. Elgon’s very deserted moorlands exposes you to that really superb and uncluttered wilderness. Usually every mountain climbers’ ultimate goal is to reach Wagagai peak at the very top of this mountain. Wagagai lies at 4321m and then descends into that really wide caldera which covers about 40km².

There are different trails that you can follow and the choice often depends on the amount of time you have. There is the Sasa trail which is the toughest trail but at the same time the shortest as it requires only 4 days to get to the Wagagai. It takes you through farmlands and homesteads which means you are doing a cultural tour at the same time.

The Sipi trail takes you a maximum of 6 days to get to the top. It’s a gentle climb at the beginning but get tougher on your 3rd day as you leave Kajeri camp and it  takes you through the tutum cave before you get to the caldera and then to Wagagai.

The longest trail takes 7 days and that is the Piswa trail. It is least rough trail compared to any other. This trail takes you through podocampus forest; you pass via hot springs just before you get to the caldera and then the peak. This trail offers you the chance to enjoy the view of the Karamajong plains as well as the Nandi and Kapeguria hills of Kenya on the Kenyan side.

Nature walks and game viewing

Nature walks is a recommended tourism activity that every one visiting Elgon should never miss out. You can have a full-day nature walk and this takes you through Budadiri and from there you can go to the park’s border to visit the Mudange cliffs which are also called Walls of Death. The Mudange cliffs are within the tropical forest and so while there, you can easily get to see primates like the blue monkeys, there are some black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys might also be seen as well as baboons.

Besides those, there are several other wildlife species that you may come across as you walk around. Animals like the rock as well as the tree hyraxes should be expected, there are elephants often seen in the open lands; the buffalos, the Defassa waterbuck and oribi are common. The bushbucks, bush pigs, duikers, serval cats, forest hogs, sometimes a leopard may be spotted too as well as the spotted hyenas. There are several species of rodents that you will get to see. These animals are commonly seen in the open areas and not in the forested areas.

Besides the animals, bird watching is another great activity that you can engage in while in Mt. Elgon national park. This park is a home to about 300 different bird species and 40 species of the 300 are restricted range type of birds. This place has 56 out of the 87 Afro-tropical highland bird species in the world example of those that you might see include the Moorland Francolin, the Moustached Green Tinker bird and the Alpine Chat, among others. There are those that restricted to areas around Mount Elgon like Jackson’s Francolin and also the Black-collared Apalis. Those that you can easily find in some other mountainous regions within eastern Uganda only include the Black-shouldered Kite as well as the Tacazze Sunbird. This is among the areas in Uganda where you will find the Lammergeyer which is endangered bird specie and you can easily findsoaring in areas above the caldera and around the Suam Gorge.

Cultural Tour

The cultural tour involves going for community visit to the communities surroundinguganda-cultural-safari-mount-elgon the national park. There are various options and so you can always choose where to go and the experience will be similarly amazing regardless of which community you visit. For instance, you can go visit the;

Sipi Widows’ group which is a support group setup to encourage people to join income generating activities and improve their livelihood. Together with your safari guide, you can visit the coffee plantations so you can see where coffee comes from. You will see how it is planted in the big Shambas along the slopes of the mountain. This is usually Arabica kind of coffee and the Bagisu farmers call it Sipi. These people produce the best washed Arabica coffee which is supplied in Uganda as well as Kenya. When you get to their community, they will be more than willing to take you around for a guided walk in their coffee plantations. They will also demonstrate how planting is done, how they do the coffee picking when it is ready, show you how to grind the coffee beans out of the husks, also their methods of storage.

The cultural tour can also be done from the Sabeyi community. This is the only chance you will have to meet local people with lots unique cultures. You can get time to participate in their local activities like traditional weaving. You can also learn something about the local dishes like how to prepare the dishes. You can also help with the cooking of the meals that you prepare and when it is ready, you should taste these really delicious local dishes, usually its Bamboo shoots “Malewa”. You will be surprised.

There also the women’s handcraft shop located in the trading centre. This is the one places from where you will find some souvenir to remind you of your trip to Mbale area. You can also visit the Mt Elgon’s main Arabica coffee processing factory, a place that provides employment opportunities to locals and market to so many farmers.

You can also do the Budadiri Community Walks. This walk takes you to the community people who offer accommodation facilities, they have cars to hire, they can also perform for you their cultural dances. They can also offer all the other activities that other communities like the coffee tours and any other community and nature walks.

You can follow trails like the one going through the BaMasaba community land and banana plantations to that great historical cave which is filled with lots of bones. The other is the Dirigana Loop Trail which leads you to Dirigsana Falls as well as the Gabushana Cave and there is also the walk to Sipi Falls.

A guided community/ cultural walks can be organized as just a few hours activity or a full day activity depending on the places you intend to visit that day.

For more information about what to do in Mountain Elgon National Park, please visit http://www.ugandasafariguide.com/