The 1,145 sq. km Mount Elgon National Park (locally known as Masaba), includes the shell of an extinct volcano, although hot springs still bubble on the caldera floor, on the border with Kenya. Its highest peak, Wagagai, is 4,321 m above sea level, making it the fourth highest mountain in East Africa. The rugged slopes, with their spectacular waterfalls, caves, hot springs and mountain vegetation, make this a wonderful and exciting area to explore. Most of the national park is montane forest, with vegetation that has adapted to the contrast of tropical heat and freezing nights. Intriguing and unique plants include giant groundsel, giant lobelia and giant heather. Bamboo forests are found in the southern and western parts of the park, and there are beautiful wild flowers.
The animals found in the park include buffalo, duiker, tree hyrax and leopard. Elephants have recently returned to the area from Kenya and there are many primates. The birdlife includes Ross’ Turaco, hornbills, and the Crowned Eagle.
Activities in the Park
The wooded slopes of Mt. Elgon are an enchanting place to hike and climb. Because of its smaller scale and milder climate, Mt. Elgon is a good choice for somebody looking for a less strenuous alternative to the Rwenzori Mountains . There are two main trails, the Piswa and the Sasa trails. Itineraries can be discussed at the park headquarters. The best time to plan a tour is during the dry season (June – August or December – February), and guides, porters and park rangers are available and recommended.
Climbing Mt. Elgon
The Wagagai Hotel in Budadiri (tel: Budadiri 4 – Mbale exchange) is close to the mountain, and guides and porters can be booked here.
Further information can be obtained from:
DEP/IUCN Mt. Elgon Conservation
and Development Project,
P. O. Box 2690 Mbale.
Visitors can also book a tour with one of the local tour operators listed on this website.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is during the dry months (June to August, or December to February). However, it is still manageable during other months.