This national park is located near in the eastern part of Uganda, covering 1145sq km. Locally known as Mt. Masaba which is the name of the founding ancestor of the Bagisu who is said to have emerged from a cave on the slopes of the mountain centuries ago, Masabas spirit is believed to be personified by Jacksons summit. Straddling the Kenya border east of Mbale, Mount Elgon is the eighth highest mountain in Africa, and it rises from the broadest base of any freestanding mountain in the world. Like other major East Africa massifs, Elgon is the relic of an extinct volcano whose formation was associated with the tectonic activity that created the rift valley several years ago.
Mt Elgon is dotted with smaller crater lakes and hot springs created by Pleistocene glacial activity. Its vast form, eighty km in diameter, rises 3070m above the surrounding plains, providing a welcome relief in more than one sense of the word. The mountains cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.
What to do:
Though the spectacular scenery is the main attraction, the park has an amazing diversity of fauna. Fauna here includes forest monkeys, small antelopes, elephants and buffaloes. Birding is another activity here as the park harbours over 300 bird species with many species being not recorded elsewhere in Uganda.
These birds range from forest birds, as well as several endemic species adapted to East Africas montane moorlands. Twelve of the species listed for Elgon have not been in any other Ugandan national park and these include Jacksons Francolin, Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Red-throated Wryneck, Black-collared Apalis, Hunters Cisticola, Alpine Chat, Marsh Widowbird and Weyns Weaver. Tourists can also visit the ancient cave paintings close to the trailhead at Budadiri, spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater, as well as be entertained by the famous Imbalu dances and ceremonies held by the local people during initiation ceremonies.
Where to stay:
The park provides self contained cottages and dormitory accommodation at the forest exploration centre in Kapkwai with meals available on request. There are also self catering guesthouses at Kapkwai and Suam. There are also accommodation facilities that are provided outside the park, simple accommodation is available at Kapchorwa and Budadiri. Also a range of accommodation facilities is found around the scenic Sipi falls and the root of the mountain in Mbale.