Hiking the Mt. Great Elgon
Mount Elgon National Park is a road less wilderness. The park can only be explored on foot, on routes that range from day walk to extended hikes over several days to reach the upper mountain. You can also make you hike a transboundary adventure, ascending the Uganda slopes and descending on the Kenyan side (or vice versa). This requires prior arrangement to meet with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers at a crossover point at the springs in the caldera.
A trained ranger guide is required on all treks. Local porters make your hike easier, each carrying up to 18kg of supplies, in addition to collecting water, cooking and preparing the camp.
The best times to climb Mount Elgon are during the dry seasons of June-August and December-March. No technical climbing equipment or skills are required to reach the main peaks. The caldera and the peaks are the mail destinations, while along the way, a choice of trails passes interesting and unique flora and fauna, waterfalls, lakes, caves, gorges and hot springs.
Rain gear and both cool and warm clothing are required as the area is subject to sudden weather changes. You should also take a camera, binoculars, hat, torch, wildlife guidebooks and insect repellant.
Mt. Elgon Hiking Trailheads and Routes
Routes from three main trailheads lead to the caldera. The trek lengths given below refer to return journeys.
* Sasa trail. (4 days); this route, which starts from Budadili town, is the closest to Mbale town and is the most easily accessible. It also provides the most direct route to the peaks, albeit with a stiff climb of over 1,600m on the first day. It crosses the park's largest area of bamboo forest and passes the lovely Jackson's Pool on the way to Wagagai Peak.
* Sipi trail (7 days); the route starts at the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwai, a few kilometres upstream from the Sipi Fall which lie just outside the park. The trail visits the spectacular Tatum cave hidden within extensive forest.
* Piswa trail (7 days). This trail, starts at Kapkwata, 30km beyond Kapchorwa, is a long route, but starts at a higher and follows a more gradual route to the caldera. It is notable for the Podocarpus forest
* Suam trail; this long and little used trail starts at the village of Suam on the Kenyan border crossing. It follows the Suam River through the steep and spectacular Suam Gorge to the hot spring on the eastern side of the caldera.
The national park extends out from the main massif of Mount Elgon along the 25km-long Wanale Ridge. A massive huge of lava, this culminates in the dramatic cliffs that overlook Mbale town. Atrail explores the national parks regenerating forests on the ridge. Look for petrifed wood in the Khaura cave and enjoy splendid views over the plains of eastern Uganda.
Where to spend an Overnight/ Accommodation facilities
A good number of accommodation facilities are readily available, they include; Lacam lodge just adjacent to the great Sipi falls with a magnificent view of the scenery. Sipi River resort provides great comfort to the visitors, Mbale Resort with unmatched services provides a greater alternative for visitors who prefers sleeping like royals.
The National park provides dormitory accommodation and self contained wooden cottages at the Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwai. Meals are available on request. the park also has self catering guesthouses at Kapkwata and Suam. Outside the Park , accommodation is available at Kapchorwa and Budadili.
The trails on the mountain have nine campsites, places at strategic intervals. These are located near the water sources, tent pads and latrines are provides, but supplies and camping equipments must be carried.
How to reach Mt. Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon National Park lies 235km east of Uganda's capital city. A tarmac road runs through Jinja to Mbale town at the western base of Mount Elgon, before climbing to Kapchorwa on the mountain's north-western flank. Tarmac road lead off the Mbale-Kapchorwa road to reach the various trailheads. 3 Days Mt. Elgon Safari