Mt. Elgon is located on the Uganda-Kenya border. This extinct volcano stands at a height of 4,321m (14,176 ft) and is believed to be the largest and oldest solitary volcanic mountain in East Africa. It also has one of the largest volcanic bases in the world.
Thousands of years ago, this mountain was once higher than Kilimanjaro. But years of erosion have eaten it up. Today, five peaks rise over the 4,000 metre mark. These are: Wagagai at 4,321m, Sudek at 4,302m Koitobos at 4,222m, Mubiyi at 4,211m and Masaba at 4,161m.
Mt. Elgon can be hiked from either the Ugandan or Kenyan side over a period of 3-5 days to the highest peak of Wagagai depending on the hikers’ pace and route chosen for the hike. Hikers have an option of hiring porters who are locals of the surrounding communities to help carry their luggage and prepare their meals at a small fee.
This being a national park, there is always the constant danger of wild animals like forest elephants, and buffalo herds. So, all hiking groups trek with armed ranger-guides from the Uganda Wildlife Authority which is in charge of the park.
The Mountain offers a unique opportunity of walking along trails that boast spectacular view points, wildlife, caves, waterfalls and hot springs.
The following is essential for the hike:
- Quality hiking boots –It is highly recommendable for hikers to carry at least 02 pairs of boots as this is a long hike.
- A Quality back pack
- A hand watch
- Long pairs of thick socks
- Long sleeved pants and shirts (to act as protection from thorn pricks from the bushes along the hiking trails) and enough clothing to last the days spent hiking at the mountain.
- Sunscreen for skin protection (the heat in this region tends to be extreme especially between December-February).
- A hat or cap to offer protection from the hot sun.
- Plenty of drinking water (one can also fetch water along some streams on the way, however they need to be purified with purification tablets).
- Oranges for vitamin c, chocolate bars and salty snacks are also handy to replace the nutrients lost during the hike.
- Altitude sickness tablets like Diamox and Acetazolamide come in handy for hikers who suffer from Altitude sickness. Medication is best when taken a day before the hike or at the start of the hike.
- A sleeping bag, a tent, and all the necessary beddings required.
- A head torch comes in handy especially in the night.
- A camera/phone camera to capture the breath taking views encountered during the hike.
- A fully charged power bank to re-charge one’s phone comes in very handy.
- Toilet paper/wet wipes/soap/hand sanitizer/face towel/Tooth paste & brush- There might be a possibility of having a bath if the guides are in position to locate a nearby water source. They will provide hikers with basins and cans to bathe.
- A small cooking stove, utensils and easy to prepare meals for dinner and breakfast- This is for the hikers who prefer to spend a night at the mountain.
- A trash bag that will be used to collect litter. It’s important for hikers to conserve the environment and leave it clean.
- Tents and sleeping bags can be rented at a small fee; hikers should consult the Mt. Elgon park officials to organize this for them. However, it’s largely advisable for hikers to have their own personal beddings with them.