Mount Elgon Overview

Mount Elgon National Park is a remarkable protected area located on the border between Uganda and Kenya, centered around Mount Elgon, an ancient, extinct volcano that is one of Africa’s largest volcanic bases. The park covers an area of approximately 1,279 square kilometers (494 square miles) on the Ugandan side, with the entire mountain spanning a much larger area that includes the adjacent national park on the Kenyan side. This majestic mountain rises to an elevation of 4,321 meters (14,177 feet) at Wagagai, its highest peak, making it the eighth highest mountain in Africa.

Established to protect the biodiversity and the natural beauty of Mount Elgon, the park boasts a diverse range of ecosystems, from montane forests to high-altitude moorlands dotted with giant lobelias and groundsel plants. The mountain’s slopes support a rich variety of flora and fauna, including over 300 bird species, forest monkeys, and small antelopes. Elephants and buffaloes can also be seen, especially in the lower forested zones.

Mount Elgon National Park is renowned for its unique geological features, including the vast caldera at its summit, formed after millions of years of erosion. The park is also home to the Sipi Falls, a series of three stunning waterfalls that cascade down the mountain’s slopes, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for hiking and photography.

The park offers a range of activities for visitors, including mountain climbing, bird watching, and exploring the extensive cave system created by lava tubes on the mountain’s slopes. Hiking trails and nature walks provide opportunities to experience the park’s tranquility and natural beauty up close, making it a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

With its unique blend of scenic beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural significance to the local communities living on its slopes, Mount Elgon National Park stands as a testament to the natural heritage of East Africa, offering a less crowded alternative to the region’s more famous mountain destinations.

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Mount Elgon National Park Highlights

Africa's No. 8

Rising majestically on the border of Uganda and Kenya, Mount Elgon stands as Africa’s eighth-highest peak, reaching approximately 14,177 feet (4,321 meters) above sea level.

This ancient volcanic massif boasts a rich tapestry of diverse ecosystems, including dense montane forests, expansive moorlands, and rugged lava caves.

Visitors embarking on the journey to Mount Elgon are treated to a myriad of captivating experiences, from thrilling summit climbs to tranquil nature walks amidst towering bamboo forests.

Along the way, encounters with endemic wildlife such as the elusive elephant shrew and charismatic colobus monkeys are commonplace, while breathtaking vistas of verdant valleys and cascading waterfalls unfold before your eyes.

Whether summiting the peak, exploring hidden caves, or simply basking in the natural splendor, a visit to Mount Elgon promises an unforgettable adventure steeped in both natural wonder and cultural heritage.

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls, a trio of stunning waterfalls, cascades down the slopes of Mount Elgon in Uganda. The main waterfall, Sipi Falls, plunges approximately 328 feet (100 meters) into a lush valley below, surrounded by verdant coffee plantations and fertile farmland.

Visitors can embark on scenic hikes to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the falls up close, with opportunities for birdwatching and cultural encounters with local communities along the way.

The thundering roar of the cascading water, coupled with the misty spray that envelops the surroundings, creates a mesmerizing ambiance that captivates all who behold it.

Simu Falls

Simu Falls, another enchanting waterfall in Mount Elgon National Park, offers a tranquil retreat amidst the pristine wilderness of Uganda.

Measuring approximately 164 feet (50 meters) in height, Simu Falls tumbles gracefully over rugged rock formations, creating a picturesque scene framed by lush vegetation and towering trees.

Visitors can embark on leisurely hikes through the forested trails to reach the base of the falls, where they can enjoy refreshing dips in the cool, crystal-clear pools and marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds them.

With its serene ambiance and breathtaking vistas, Simu Falls provides a peaceful escape into the heart of Mount Elgon’s pristine landscapes.


Exploring Mount Elgon can lead visitors to see some varying wildlife spread across the park.  Here are some hopeful sightings:

African Elephant: Majestic and iconic, African elephants roam Mount Elgon’s forests and grasslands, browsing on vegetation and leaving a lasting impact on the landscape.

Buffalo: Formidable and gregarious, herds of buffalo are a common sight in Mount Elgon, grazing on grasses and forming a vital part of the park’s ecosystem.

Giant Forest Hog: With its imposing size and distinctive appearance, the giant forest hog is a fascinating species to encounter in Mount Elgon, foraging for roots and fruits in the forest understory.

Bushbuck: Graceful and elusive, bushbucks inhabit the dense vegetation of Mount Elgon, relying on their cryptic coloration to blend into their surroundings and evade predators.

Colobus Monkey: With their striking black-and-white fur and long, flowing tails, colobus monkeys are a captivating sight in Mount Elgon’s forest canopy, where they feed on leaves and fruits.

Olive Baboon: Sociable and adaptable, troops of olive baboons are a common presence in Mount Elgon, foraging for food on the ground and in the trees throughout the day.

Duiker: Small and agile, duikers are frequently encountered in Mount Elgon, darting through the undergrowth in search of tender shoots, fruits, and fallen leaves.

Black-and-White Colobus Monkey: Known for their acrobatic leaps and striking coloration, black-and-white colobus monkeys are a flagship species of Mount Elgon’s montane forests.

Rock Hyrax: These small, rock-dwelling mammals are well adapted to the rugged terrain of Mount Elgon, where they can be seen sunning themselves on rocky outcrops.

Crested Porcupine: Nocturnal and secretive, crested porcupines are occasionally glimpsed in Mount Elgon, using their formidable quills for defense and foraging for roots and tubers at night.

Mount Elgon National Park Pictures

Engaging Mount Elgon

Embark on an awe-inspiring journey to conquer the towering heights of Mount Elgon, Africa’s eighth highest peak.

As you ascend, you’ll traverse through a diverse landscape, ranging from lush montane forests teeming with wildlife to rugged alpine moorlands adorned with otherworldly giant lobelias.

The trek to the summit offers not only physical challenges but also breathtaking panoramic views stretching across the horizon, rewarding your efforts with a sense of triumph and accomplishment upon reaching the peak.

Delve into the park’s hidden gems as you venture deep into its labyrinthine caves and stumble upon cascading waterfalls nestled amidst verdant foliage.

Each cave holds its own mystique and secrets, inviting you to unravel their mysteries and marvel at their natural beauty.

The gushing waterfalls provide a tranquil retreat, offering a refreshing respite amid the lush surroundings. Prepare to be enchanted by the serene ambiance and captivating scenery found within these enchanting natural wonders.

Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Mount Elgon National Park through guided nature walks and invigorating hikes. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll meander along scenic trails, immersing yourself in the park’s rich biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes.

Traverse through dense forests alive with the chatter of monkeys and birds, pause to admire the vibrant flora carpeting the forest floor, and soak in the tranquil ambiance of cascading streams and babbling brooks.

Whether you opt for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, each step brings you closer to the heart of this pristine wilderness, offering unforgettable experiences and cherished memories.

Mount Elgon National Park Trails

Sipi Falls Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles (8 km) with an elevation gain of 656 feet (200 meters)

Description: The Sipi Falls Trail offers a moderate hike through Mount Elgon National Park, leading hikers to the breathtaking Sipi Falls. Trek along well-maintained paths, passing through lush forests and open grasslands. Enjoy panoramic views of the falls as they cascade down rocky cliffs, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The trail provides opportunities for birdwatching and photography amidst the park’s stunning natural beauty.

Piswa Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles (16 km) with an elevation gain of 3,280 feet (1,000 meters)

Description: The Piswa Trail is a challenging trek through Mount Elgon’s dense forests and rugged terrain. Hikers will ascend steep slopes and traverse narrow pathways, surrounded by towering trees and vibrant vegetation. Encounter unique wildlife such as colobus monkeys and bushbucks while enjoying the serenity of the forest. The trail offers stunning views of the park’s diverse landscapes and is ideal for adventurous nature enthusiasts.

Kitum Cave Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 miles (3.2 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Kitum Cave Trail offers an easy walk to Kitum Cave, a fascinating geological formation within Mount Elgon National Park.

Hikers will stroll through dense forests and rocky terrain, reaching the cave entrance nestled amidst the mountainside. Explore the interior of the cave, adorned with ancient rock formations and illuminated by shafts of sunlight.

The trail provides a unique glimpse into the park’s geological wonders and is suitable for all skill levels.

Wagagai Summit Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 14 miles (22.5 km) with an elevation gain of 4,921 feet (1,500 meters)

Description: The Wagagai Summit Trail is a challenging ascent to the summit of Mount Elgon, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Hikers will trek through alpine meadows and rocky slopes, passing by pristine mountain streams and unique flora. Reach the summit and marvel at the expansive vistas stretching across the park and beyond.

This difficult hike is recommended for experienced adventurers seeking a rewarding mountaineering experience.

Sasa River Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8 miles (12.9 km) with an elevation gain of 1,640 feet (500 meters)

Description: The Sasa River Trail follows the scenic Sasa River, meandering through Mount Elgon’s picturesque valleys and gorges.

Hikers will traverse gentle slopes and rocky terrain, surrounded by lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls. Enjoy sightings of diverse bird species and occasional wildlife encounters along the way.

The trail provides a tranquil nature experience amidst the park’s stunning landscapes and is suitable for hikers of all levels.

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  • Focus East Africa Tours, Mount Elgon National Park Kenya,, retrieved March 2023.
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  • Rough Guides, Mount Elgon National Park Travel Guide, , retrieved March 2023.
  • William, J.G., National Parks of East Africa, HarperCollins Publisher, 1995