Mount Elgon National park

Mount Elgon National park : Mount Elgon is a sleeping giant volcano towering over the Kenyan – Ugandan border with Wagagai Peak as its highest peak at 4,321 meters high, Mount Elgon first erupted over 24 million years back. Actually several thousands of years ago, Mount Elgon stood higher than today’s Mountain Kilimanjaro covering a 50 X 80 kilometer area.

Mountain Elgon is has the biggest surface area of all extinct volcanoes on the planet. Although it is the 4th highest Mountain in East Africa, the volcano also has a collapsed crater Caldera that covers more than 40 kilometers at the summit and is the largest known natural crater and is bordered by a number of rocky peaks.


Mount Elgon National Park is into two sections that is the Ugandan section and the Kenya section, the Uganda section of Mount Elgon National Park has a surface area of 1,279 square kilometers and the Kenyan section covers 169 square kilometers.

Wildlife in Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park is a home to abundant wildlife inhabiting the lower slopes of Mount Volcano, these animals include elephants, buffaloes, spotted hyenas, and a variety of small antelopes including Oribis, Bushbuck, Defassa waterbuck.

The dense Montane forest contains primates such as the black –and white colobus monkeys, the blue monkeys among others.

Birdlife in Mount Elgon National Park 

 Mount Elgon National Park is a home to over 296 bird species including 40 Uganda species whose range is limited to Mount Elgon region and 56 of the 87 Afrotropical highland biome species.

Birds in Mount Elgon National Park include Gypaetus barbatus, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Francolinus streptophorus, Sarothrura affinis, Bubo capensis, Glaucidium tephronotum, Indicator conirostris, Phyllastrephus baumanni, Kakamega poliothorax, Sheppardia polioptera, Campephaga quiscalina and Cisticola hunteri, Francolinus jacksoni, black collared Apalis, Jacksons Francolin, Lammergeyer, Black-shouldered Kite, and Tacazze sunbird among others.

birds in elgon

Safari activities to do in Mount Elgon National Park


Hiking is one of the major safari activities to do in Mount Elgon National Park, Mount Elgon’s climbing/hiking trails are accessible throughout the year unlike other mountain climbs in East Africa.

Also the hiking trails are less congested than other trails thus allowing you to enjoy the stunning scenery of the volcanoes without any distractions, hiking on Mount Elgon is done using 3 main hiking trails which vary in length and difficulty.

hiking rwenzori

Hiking trails on Mount Elgon

The Ssasa Trail

This is the shortest but most challenging trail of four – day round trip, this is the original route to Wagagai – Mount Elgon’s 4,321 meters peak. The trail begins in the town of Budadiri in the Eastern Region of Uganda at an altitude of 1,250 meters. The firest involves a tough ascent of 1,650 meters, the trail then enters the forest and you reach Mudangi Cliffs which are climbed using ladder. Next there is a 2.5 hour walk through the picturesque bamboo forest. Day 2 involves a gentler walk and you will reach Wagagai on Day 3.

The Piswa Trail

This is a less strenuous but longer alternative to the Sasa Trail, you will cover a 49 kilometers across 7 days, the trail begins at the villaje of Kapkwata on the north side of the mountain at an altitude of 2,190 meters. The trail is famous for its breathtaking views of the Karamoja plains of Uganda and Kapeguria and Nandi Hills of Kenya.

The Sipi Trail

This is the longest trail covering 56 kilometers and takes around 4-6 days to complete, the trail begins at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Center, just a few kilometers from Sipi Falls. One of the highlights of this trail is the section from Tatum Cave which is famous for its ancient cave paintings.

Day Hikes

There are also day hikes in Mountain Elgon National Park. The Forest Exploration Center has opened 3 shorter trails which are only 3-7 kilometers, these trails are perfect for less experienced hikers and for travelers who want get experience the Mountain’s beautiful scenery and wildlife within a short period of time.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking was started in Mountain Elgon National Park in 2012 with the opening of Mountain biking trails in 2012, bikes are rented from The Sipi River Lodge.

One of the biking trails in the park include a trail of 1 hour and a half running from Sipi Trading Center at an altitude of 1,775 meters to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa.

Bird watching

Mountain Elgon National Park is a home to over 300 bird species and has been recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA), the park is a perfect destination for birth enthusiasts  and some of the birds to look out for include African blue fly-catcher, the African goshawk, and the cinnamon-chested bee eater among others.

When to visit Mount Elgon National Park

Although Mount Elgon National Park can be accessed at any time of the year, the best recommended time to visit is during the drier seasons of June to August and November to March.

Visiting the park in the months of November or December will allow you to see its delightful wildflowers in bloom. In the wet season, the Mountain’s trails are more slippery and this can make your hike more challenging.

Regardless of the when you visit the park, you will be surrounded by panoramic views.

Getting to Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park is easily accessed from Kampala – the capital city of Uganda, from Kampala to the park it is approximately 235 kilometers. The first leg of the journey is on a tarmac road that runs through Jinja to Mbale, a city in the Eastern Region of Uganda, the road then climbs to Kapchorwa on Mount Elgon’s north – western side.

The second leg of the journey to Mount Elgon National Park is on dirt roads that lead off the Mbale – Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads.

Where to Stay at Mount Elgon National Park

There are various facilities of accommodation around Mount Elgon national park and these include

  • Sipi River Lodge
  • Mount Elgon Hotel and Spa
  • Kapkwai Cottages
  • Mbale Reosrt Jotel plus County Home
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