Mountain Elgon National Park
MOUNTAIN ELGON NATIONAL PARK Uganda with the largest volcanic base
Mountain Elgon is located on the mountain Elgon which has the largest volcanic base in the whole world at 4,000km². Mountain Elgon demarcates Uganda and Kenya. The mountain’s cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna.
This mountain protects over 300 species of birds species encountered here include Hartlaub's Turaco, Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Dusky-Turtle Dove, African Hill Babbler, Alpine Chat, Black- throated Wattle-eye, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Thick-billed Honey guide, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike.
On the other side, forest antelopes, forest monkeys, forest elephants and forest buffaloes also live on the mountainside. It is recognised by UNESCO as national parks in Uganda and Kenya.
A climb on Mountain Elgon 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 Mountain Elgon is not the final ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, but the descent into the vast 40km² caldera.
Areas of intrests in and near Mountain Elgon National park
Forest Exploration Centre
It is situated at Kapkwai region and the starting point for exploring mountain Elgon national park. From here, tourist visits the caves, waterfalls like sipi falls. The trailhead for climbers using the Sipi trail to the caldera and other points at the mountain.
Mountain Elgon is endowed by caves left by moving magma and erosion of soft volcanic deposits. The most accessible are Kapkwai Cave, near the Forest Exploration Centre, and Khauka Cave on Wanale Ridge. Historically, such features acted as shelters for locals and their livestock; later on they provided manure in the form of bat droppings.
Other caves in mountain elgon national park include; Hunters Cave, Siyo Cave (near the hot springs), Mude Cave and Tutum Cave.
Jackson’s Pool and Jackson’s Peak
Jackson’s Pool stands at 4,050m and is a natural pool with shallow waters. This pool lies in the shadow of the 4,165m high Jackson’s Peak, a free-standing volcanic plug rising from the western flank of the mountain. These features were named after the explorer Frederick Jackson, who in 1889 was the first European to climb Mount Elgon. The peak is used by the locals as a spot to communicate with their ancestors.
The peaks and the calderas on mountain Elgon
Formation of calderas:
Calderas are volcanic features which are formed due to volcanic. A caldera is formed after the formation of volcanos. That is to say, they are formed on top of the volcanic mountain by violent arruption of magma which blow off the top part of the mountain and leave behind a wide circular depression known as a caldera.
Mount Elgon’s highest peaks are formed by high points around a jagged rim enclosing one of the world's largest calderas, at 40km long and 8km wide. The tallest peak is the 4,321m Wagagi, followed by Sudek (4,303m), Koitobos (4,222m) and Mubiyi (4,210m). Other calderas include; Simu Gorge among others.
Mountain Elgon’s vegetation is banded into broad zones whose characteristics are dictated by altitude and rainfall. The lower mountain slopes are covered with dense forest and regenerating forests, hung with vine-like lianas, epiphytes and lichens. The floor is covered with a carpet of ferns, orchids and flowering plants. Common tree species encountered in the tropical montane forest (1,500-2,500m ASL) are olive Oleahochstetteri, prunus africanas, Elgon teak, podocarpus, cedar, Cordia, Neoboutania, allophyllus tombea and Aningueriaadolfi-friedericii.
Nkokenjeru Ridge and Wanale
Nkokenjeru Ridge is a distinctive finger of forest extending outwards from the main massif of Mount Elgon. It lies at an elevation of 2,347m and covers a 25km-long tongue of lava that flowed out of the side of the volcano after the cone collapsed to block the main vent. Nkokenjeru Ridge culminates at the superb Wanale Cliffs which tower above Mbale Town; the seasonal Nabuyonga and Namatyo Waterfalls are located here. A trail at this western end of the ridge leads you to Khauka Cave where petrified wood can be found.