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Mt. Elgon

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Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its vast form, eighty kilometers in diameter, rises 3070m above the surrounding plains, providing welcome relief in more than one sense of the word. Its mountainous terrain introduces variety to an otherwise monotonous regional landscape. Its cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.

The mountain is named after the Elgeyo tribe, who once lived in huge caves on the south side of the mountain. It was known as "Ol Doinyo Ilgoon" (Breast Mountain) by the Maasai and as "Masaba" on the Ugandan side. Mt. Elgon consists of five major peaks: Wagagai (4,321m), being in Uganda, Sudek (4,302m or 14,140;ft) in Kenya, Koitobos (4,222m or 13,851;ft), a flat topped basalt column (Kenya), Mubiyi (4,211m or 13,816;ft) and Masaba (4,161m or 13,650;ft)

Mount Elgon has been a regional landmark for a long time: this extinct volcano is one of Kenya and Uganda’s oldest physical features, first erupting around 20 million years ago. It was once Africa’s highest mountain, towering above Kilimanjaro’s 5895m. Millennia of erosion have reduced its height to 4321 m, relegating it to 4th highest peak in East Africa (and 7th on the continent). However, its 4000km2 surface area is still the largest base of any volcanic mountain worldwide.

The best times to climb Mount Elgon are during the dry s’ of June-August and December-March. No technical equipment or skills are required to reach the main peak. Caldera and the peaks are the main destinations. For trekking, a choice of trails passes through interestingly unique flora and fauna, waterfalls, lakes, caves, gorges and hot springs

From Uganda, there are two main trail heads which lead to the mountain peaks. Sasa river trail is the most accessible from Mbale and is the most direct to the peaks. It passes through the park’s largest bamboo forest. However it is characterized by a steep and rugged climb over 1600m on the first day. The second one is Piswa/Kapkatwa trail head which entails a gentle 660m on the fist day. The full trekking circuit to the peaks takes 4-5 days to complete, but there are also day hikes. The forest exploration center has three day trails ranging between 3 and 7 kms. These trails offer an excellent opportunity to experience the mountain’s unique and wildlife in a shorter time.

Mount Elgon supports a variety of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, Defassa’s waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, leopard and spotted hyena. However, as is usual in forest environments, most of these species are rarely seen. The most commonly seen creatures are black and white colobus, blue monkey, duiker and tree squirrel. 
   
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