At 4,000km² Mt. Elgon has the largest volcanic base in the world. Located on the Uganda-Kenya border it is also the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic mountain in East Africa. Its vast form, 80km in diameter, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffalos also live on the mountainside. The higher slopes are protected by national parks in Uganda and Kenya, creating an extensive trans-boundary conservation area which has been declared a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.
A climb on Mt. Elgon’s deserted moorlands unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness without the summit-oriented approach common to many mountains: the ultimate goal on reaching the top of Mt. Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km² caldera.
Park at a Glance
This extinct volcano is one of Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 24 million years ago.
Mt Elgon was once Africa’s highest mountain, far exceeding Kilimanjaro’s current 5,895m. Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4,321m, relegating it to the 4th highest peak in East Africa and 8th on the continent.
Mt Elgon is home to two tribes, the Bagisu and the Sabiny, with the marginalized Ndorobos forced to dwell deep within the forest of Benet.
The Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba and refer to the mountain by this name.
All About Mount Elgon
Mount Elgon is a mountain that borders Uganda and Kenya, interestingly the tribes around this mountain, though they tend to share similar norms and values, there languages tend to differ. However they all have one in thing in common, that is circumcision of teens when transitioning them into men.
The mountain offers beautiful sights and sounds of elephants and buffalos more so on the lower slopes of the mountain. Antelopes and monkeys can be found on the same slopes thus a good place to explore wildlife. To anyone interested in bird watching, the park is gifted with over 300 bird species some of which are forest bird species endangered bird species such as the lammergeyer can also be found in this same park. Nocturnal animals often occupy the slopes at night to lick the salty cave walls.
The slopes are also known for yielding the highest coffee produce in Uganda, besides a few people that participate in the tourism industry, the main economic activity in this place is coffee growing.
It is believed that over 24 million years, mountain Elgon, which is today an inactive volcano was the tallest mountain in Africa, however today it is the fourth tallest mountain in Africa having its peak 4321 meters above sea level. The mountain is a wonderful destination for hiking more so on a Sunday day. The vegetation on this mountain changes as you ascend up, at the bottom, the forests are often covered with flower like orchids. The mountain also has a bamboo forest, woodland.
There is a lot more to explore about Mount Elgon among which includes the following:
Hiking and Climbing
A four day trek has to put in mind in order to accomplish the quest of climbing Mount Elgon. It is a medium difficulty climb that gets easier with the help of guides and porters to direct your paths as well as easing you on the load to carry. The most important thing to be put in consideration is buying frozen meals in your country before getting to Mount Elgon since frozen food is not plentiful in Uganda since majority prefers fresh food, thus you might have a limited list of options when it comes to frozen food while in Uganda. The only edibles you can be sure to have in abundance are fruits at a relatively fair price.
A light backpack, hiking boots, a wide brimmed hat, jeans, long sleeved shirts and a light rain-jacket, bottled water are some of the things that you shouldn’t miss out on before setting off for your hike.
You can sure about a lot more about the herbal vegetation of the Elgon slopes, with the help of the guide, all this information will be at your disposal. The trails at the slopes of the Elgon are suitable for mountain biking as well. In the hike, you cannot miss out on engaging with the locals who live on the slopes of the Elgon.
The forest cover of Mount Elgon is also a wonderful destination to spot over 300 bird species including the Lemon Dove, Dusky-Turtle Dove, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Eastern bronze-napped pigeon, African Hill babbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler and many more bird species.
Bagisu, Imbalu Circumcision
In the eastern region, every even year is a year set apart to transform boys into Men by publically circumcising them. Boys are smeared with a mixture of while cassava floor, then run around for a few kilometers entering different homes with the company of local drummers while doing traditional dancers.
Every year from August to December there are several circumcisions’ events that you may witness individually. It is an event like other that you may never have ever experienced else where.