Mount Elgon (4,321m) 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.
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano and one of Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 24 million years ago. At 4,000km² Mount 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. Mount Elgon’s vast form, 80km in diameter, rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains. Mount Eglon’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
Flora and fauna
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.
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.
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 various routes can be combined, ascending the Sipi (4-6 days), Piswa (7 days), Sasa (2-4 days) Trail and descending along the Sasa or Sipi Trail for example. This allows a traverse of the caldera and a visit to the hot springs.
mountains of karamoja, northeast uganda
Many travellers find the mountains of Uganda’s northeastern border an exciting alternative to the more strenuous climbs in East Africa. they have many of the same attractions, with a milder climate and lower elevation, and requires no special equipment or technical experience.
The northeastern plateau is defined by a string of volcanic mountains that include Mountains: Morungole, Moroto, Kadam and Napak all of which exceed 2,538 metres in elevation. The southernmost mountain – Mount Elgon – is also the highest of the chain, reaching 4,321 metres.