Introducing Mount Elgon National Park
Mt Elgon is a good alternative to climbing Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains or Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania since it offers a milder climate, lower elevation and much more reasonable prices. Also, it’s arguably a more scenic climb than the latter. The park encompasses the upper regions of Mt Elgon to the Kenyan border and this is said to be one of the largest surface areas of any extinct volcano in the world.
Elgon, whose name is derived from the Maasai name, Ol Doinyo Ilgoon (‘Breast Mountain’), has five major peaks with the highest, Wagagai (4321m), rising on the Ugandan side. It’s the second tallest mountain in Uganda (after Mt Stanley at 5109m) and the eighth in Africa, though millions of years ago it was the continent’s tallest. The mountain is peppered with cliffs, caves, gorges and waterfalls, and the views from the higher reaches stretch way across eastern Uganda’s wide plains.
The lower slopes are clothed in tropical montane forest with extensive stands of bamboo. Above 3000m the forest fades into heath and then afro-alpine moorland, which blankets the caldera, a collapsed crater covering some 40 sq km. The moorland is studded with rare plant species, such as giant groundsel and endemic Lobelia elgonensis, and you’ll often see duiker bounding through the long grass and endangered lammergeier vultures overhead. In September it’s decorated with wildflowers. You’ll probably see a few primates and lots of birds, including the rare Jackson’s francolin, alpine chat and white-starred forest robin, but you’ll be lucky to spot one of the leopard, hyena, buffalo, elephant or other big mammals.
Uganda’s second-highest peak, Wagagai (4321m); trekking routes into Kenya or Sipi Falls.