Elgon is a 4,321m high extinct volcano, which in prehistoric times stood taller than Kirimanjaro does today. It first erupted 24 million years ago. Although the mountain straddles the Kenya border, its loftiest peak, Wagagai, lies within Uganda and is best ascended from the Uganda side.
Elgon is an important watershed, and its slopes support a rich variety of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the other-worldly giant lobelia and groundsel plants.
Spectacular scenery is the main attraction for hikers on this oft-neglected and relatively undemanding mountain, but there is also a variety of forest monkeys and small antelope, along with elephant and buffalo. A checklist topping 300 birds includes many species not recorded elsewhere in Uganda.
Other attractions include ancient cave paintings close to the trailhead at Budadiri, and spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater.
There two main trail heads which lead to the mountain peaks. Sasa river trail is the most accessible from Mbale and is the most direct route to the peaks. It passes through the park's largest bamboo forest, however its steep and rugged climb over 1600m on the first day.
The second on is Piswa trail (Kapkwata trail head), which is gentle (660m) on the first day.
The full trekking circuit to the peaks takes 4-5 days to complete, but there also day hikes. The forest exploration center has three "day" trails ranging between 3 and 7kms. These trails offer an excellent opportunity to experience the mountain's unique plants and wildlife in a shorter time period.
See our Mt. Elgon Trekking Tour