When you visit Eastern Uganda, Mount Elgon is one of the places that you should not miss while on safari in Uganda. This noticeable mountain lies on the border of Uganda and Kenya. The Mount Elgon is a dormant volcano and today it is one of the best places to go hiking in Uganda. This unique treasure is jealously protected together with the neighboring area as a gazetted national park that is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The Mount Elgon Caldera measures a 50km by 80km area and therefore this is the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world. The Mount Elgon is the 4th highest mountain in East Africa. The Mountain was caused by an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya.
More so, it extends to the Kenyan border but its highest peak Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best ascended from the Uganda side. Elgon also contains the world’s largest collapsed Crater-Calder covering over 40kms at the top and it’s the largest known crater, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks.
Mountain Elgon is a great watershed, with its slopes supporting a rich variety of vegetation zones that range from rush Montana, Mixed Bamboo forest to the fascinating high open Moorland, studded with the other worldly rarest endemic plant species like the giant Lobella and groundsel plants peculiar to Africa. The vegetation of Mount Elgon changes the higher that you go. On the lower slopes you will find dense forest and due to the rainfall in the area the trees are often covered lichen, vine like lians and epiphytes while the forest floor seems to be carpeted with ferns and flowering plants such as wild orchids. The Bamboo forest region is next at about 2,000 plus meter elevation, beyond that is the open woodland, further on up you have giant heather in meadows of grass and flowers, on an upward to the Afro-Montane zone with its giant lobelias an groundsel.
Apart from fauna and flora in Mount Elgon, there are different types of scenery like Waterfalls, Cliffs, Caves, Calderas, Gorges, the Mountain peaks, Mesas and Hot Springs. At the lowest slopes of Mount Elgon, you will find the Buffalo, Elephants, Antelopes, forest monkeys like the Blue monkey and black white colobus. There are about 300 bird species for example the African Goshawk, Lammergeier and Baglafecht Weaver.
Trekking is another activity where by trekkers have up to three main trailheads leading to Elgon Mountain peaks. One may start from Budadiri that is Sasa trailhead, Sipi trailhead, Forest exploration center- Kapkwai or you may use the Kapkwata commonly refered to as the piswa trailhead. Sasa trail passes through the park’s largest area of bamboo forest, it is the most direct route to the peaks through steep with rugged climbs of over 1600m in the start and it’s accessible from Mbale.
The Local people living in Mountain Elgon are the Bagishu and the Sabiny. They grow crops for subsistence purposes and practice annual circumcision ceremonies to initiate young women and men into adulthood.