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.
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.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the endangered Lammergeyer. 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.
The mammalian fauna of Mount Elgon is poorly known. The most common species, or at least the most visible to hikers are the blue monkeys and black and white columbus. A small number of Elephants are residents of forests and several montane moorland endemics.
Mount Elgon’s hiking trails are one of its major attractions. Unlike other climbs in East Africa, Mount Elgon’s trails are accessible throughout the year and they require no specialist climbing equipment.
Mount Elgon’s hiking trails are less congested than other hiking trails in East Africa, allowing you to enjoy its stunning scenery without any distractions. Mount Elgon has 3 main hiking trails which vary in length and difficulty;
In 2012, the Uganda Wildlife Authority opened mountain biking trails. Bikes can be rented from Sipi River Lodge. One 1 ½ hour trail runs from Sipi Trading Center at an altitude of 1,775m to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa.
Although Mount Elgon is accessible at any time of the year, we recommend that you visit during the drier seasons of June to August and November to March.
Visiting in November or December will allow you to see its delightful wildflowers in bloom. Though whenever you visit, you’ll be surrounded by panoramic views.
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