Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park; Mount Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain far exceeding mount Kilimanjaro however millennia erosion have reduced its height to 4,321m, making it the fourth highest peak in East Africa and eighth in Africa. The extinct volcano is one of the oldest physical features with its first eruption around twenty four million years ago. Due to volcanic eruption, mount Elgon at 4,321m, has the largest volcanic base in the world, it’s a massive form of about 80 km in diameter, raised to more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains hence formation of a caldera.
The highest peak of Mount Elgon formed at 4,321 meters is called Wagagai peak. Other outstanding peaks include; the Kiongo summit at 4,303 meters, Mubiayi summit at 4,210m and Jackson’s summit at 4,165m. Mount Elgon forms a great number of rivers, most remarkable the River Sipi which forms the specular Sipi falls and other flowing rivers. The slopes of Mount Elgon form array of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane to open moorland scattered trees with huge groundsel and lobelia.
Mount Elgon forms Mount Elgon on the slopes of the mountain, one of the 10 gazetted Uganda national parks located in the Eastern region close to Uganda-Kenya border in the districts of Mbale, Bududa, Budadiri, Manafwa, Buhugu, Sipi, Bufumbi to mention but a few on the Uganda side. The mountain covers about 1,121 square kilometres surrounded mainly by 2 tribes; Bagisu and Sabiny with the marginalized Neorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet.
The local people named the mountain, Mount Masaba after a founding ancestor called Masaba who was believed to come from one of the caves created on the slopes of the mountain. The park can only be accessed by road for 5 to 6 hours’ from Kampala to the Eastern via Jinja and Mbale before reaching Mount Elgon national park.
The unique attraction in Mount Elgon national park is the Caldera which is the biggest in Africa which takes 7 days for hikers to reach the peak Wagagai. While the peak Wagagai is the primary tourist attraction, Mount Elgon national park has a diverse of animal species for example the buffaloes, forest monkeys, forest elephants to mention a few.
The park is a rich destination for bird lovers with about 300 species including the endangered lammergeyer. Some of the commonly found birds in the park include; Jackson’s francolin, weyn’s weaver, Marsh Widowbird, Moorland Francolin, Hunter’s Cisticola, Alpine chat to mention but a few. Other attractions found in the park include the old cave paintings near the trailheads and the hot springs inside the crater. Cultural tours are also enjoyed while on a tour, most popular is the Imbalu cultural dances done by the Bagisu people during initiation ceremonies.