Consider Mount Elgon National Park when planning a budget Hiking tour to Africa.

At Mount Elgon you will get the chance to experience the Wonderful Afro Alpline zone, and yet your pocket will remain smilling!

Mount Elgon National Park

In this guide we share with you the information and tips you need to plan a memorable Hiking Uganda tour to Mount Elgon National Park.

You will find

  • Basic information about the park
  • How to get there
  • The best time to go hiking
  • The interesting animals in the park
  • Bird watching and
  • Where to stay.

  • Overview

    Mount Elgon is the eighth highest mountain in Africa & it rises from the broadest base of any freestanding mountain in the world!

    It is found in the eastern part of Uganda straddling the Kenyan Border east of Mbale town.

    Mount Elgon is the relic of an extinct volcano whose formation was associated with the tectonic activity that formed the Rift valley many years ago.

    The tallest peak on this mountain is the Wagagai 4,321m which lies on the south west.

    Other major peaks are

    • Kiongo 4303m in the south,
    • Mubiyi 4210m in the north and
    • The Jackson’s summit 4165m in the east.

    The local tribe the Bagisu calls this mountain Masaba, a name of their founding ancestor who is said to have emerged from a cave on the slopes many centuries ago.

    It is believed that his spirit was personified at the Jackson’s summit and that is why it appears to be the tallest peak from many vantage points, while the Wagagai was named after Masaba’s wife.

    The mountain’s vegetation is similar to those of other large East African mountains.

    Below 3000m contour, the mountain supports a contiguous belt of evergreen forest extending over roughly 750km sq.

    It has tall Afro- mountane forest at 2,500m and low- canopy mountane forest and bamboo between 2,500 and 3000m.

    The Afro-alpine vegetation studded with strands of giant lobelia & groundsel including Senecio elonensis & Senecio barbatipes are found above 3000m.

    Getting there and away!

    You can only explore Mount Elgon National Park on foot and most of the trailheads can be reached by public transport.

    The most established route up the Elgon is the Sasa Route for which the trailhead is at Budadiri a small trading centre situated a few kilometers outside the western park boundary.

    The Piswa Route the trail head is at Kapkwata and the Sipi Route the trail head is at Kapkwai.

    When to go hiking?

    Elgon can be climbed at any time of the year though the best time is during the dry season between the months of June to Aug & December to March.

    You should always target for November/December, this is when the highland flowers are in bloom.

    Is hiking Mount Elgon Difficult?

    Mount Elgon is not a difficult mountain to climb, all you need is to be physically fit.

    Since the mountain is not so high, there no serious risk of high altitude illness but you may experience other altitude-related symptoms like headaches when you reach near the peaks.

    Hiking Tips

    • Elgon has enormous hiking potential which is not financially draining and offers similar exposure to the weird and wonderful world of the Afro-alpine zone.
    • So if you cannot afford to hike the other major mountains in East Africa, Mount Elgon is the way to go!

    • You also have the option of traversing the mountain ascending the Ugandan side & descending through the contiguous national park in Kenya.
    • Elgon lies below the snow line, but it can be very cold at night or windy. You must be sure to bring enough warm clothing.
    • You should avoid ascent of the escarpment via the tricky path known as the Wall of Death on the Sasa route if you are afraid of heights.

    If you are not in a serious hiking mood Mount Elgon offers you plenty of alluring prospects such as the lovely Sipi falls which you can access from Mbale town in less than an hour's drive.

    Wildlife at Mount Elgon National Park

    The animals you are likely to encounter when you hike this mountain include :

    • The blue monkey,
    • Black and white Colobus,
    • The striking Debrazza’s monkey,
    • A small population of elephants,
    • Leopard,
    • Warthog,
    • Buffalo,
    • Common duiker &
    • sitatunga

    Birding at Mount Elgon National Park

    The mountain also supports a rich variety of forest birds as well as the endemic montane moorlands.

    It also has rare species of birds only found in the Elgon’s area in Uganda these include:

    • Moustached green tinker bird,
    • Moorland francolin,
    • Jackson’s francolin,
    • Red throated wry neck and
    • The black-collared apalis.

    At high altitudes , you may have a glimpse of the lammergeyer a.k.a bearded vulture soaring high.

    Where to stay?

    Shoe string type of accommodation exists at all the three trailheads but once on the trail, Camping will be the only option for you.


    So if you came to hike, don’t forget to bring your own tent and sleeping bag or hire the equipments from the national park’s offices in Mbale.

    You can also hire a porter to help you carry your equipment.

    Amazingly the porters cut grass to make you a “mattress” that you will put under your sleeping bag.

    This is useful for comfort and also for warmth at higher altitudes.

    Click here to find more information about accommadation at Mount Elgon

    Return from The Mount Elgon National Park Guide to The Uganda Tourism Business Guide.

    Return from The Mount Elgon Guide to The Sipi Falls Guide.


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