When it comes to Uganda hiking adventures, Mt Elgon stands out. Those who have been there witness that it is the most beautiful mountain in Africa you’ve never heard of! Wagagai is Mt Elgon’s highest Point located entirely within Uganda. Mt Elgon is an extinct shield volcano at the Eastern border of Uganda with Kenya.Trekking to this stunning peak may take 3-4 days and the experience will be the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime personal challenge and you will be rewarded by the magnificent view of a Crater Lake within the Caldera that occupies the peak of this mountain. Mt Elgon came into existence as a result of a volcanic eruption and that for hundreds of years, the mountain has never erupted since its formation. In addition to Wagagai, the highest peak, Elgon’s other features include a plethora of waterfalls, hot springs that sometimes experiences temperatures below freezing point. A hike to Wagagai peak complem,ent other tourism activities in Uganda which include gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in south western Uganda, bird watching, game viewing safaris, cultural tours and forest walks among others.
Wagagai is just a peak and a single attraction among the many that Mount Elgon national park has to offer that include over 300 birds including the endangered Lammergeyer, elephants, calabash monkeys, Small antelopes and forest monkeys. At 4321m Mt Elgon Wagagai peak is one of the largest volcanic base in Africa, located on the Uganda-Kenya border and the mountain is the oldest and largest solitary, volcanic feature in East Africa. Mountain Elgon is vast in size with 80km in diameter, which rises more than 3,000m above the surrounding plains, and its cool heights offer respite from the hot plains below, with the higher altitudes providing a refuge for flora and fauna. The park’s management encourages tourists to try their best and make it to the top of Mt. Elgon in order to ascent to the 4321m Wagagai Peak, and that they will be able to see the vast 40km² caldera, the largest in Africa and second in the world.
Besides Wagagai peak, Mt Elgon is made p of other peaks which include Sudek (4,302 meters) on the Kenya/Uganda border, Koitobos (4,222 metres), a flat-topped basalt column in Kenya, Mubiyi (4,211 metres) in Uganda and Masaba (4,161 meters) in Uganda. Wagagai peak stands as a stunning physical feature within Mountain Elgon National Park, the fourth largest Ugandan National park which encompasses 1154sq.km and stretches between 0052′-1025′ N and 340 14′ -340 44’E. Majority of the park is situated above 2000m and extends up to its highest peak (Wagagai at 4321m). Mount. Elgon is a solitary volcano, one of the oldest in East Africa having built up from lava debris blown out from a greatly enlarged volcanic vent during the Pliocene epoch and rises to a height of about 4320m above sea level. The geology of the area is dominated by basaltic parent materials and strongly weathered granites of the Basement Complex. The top of Mt Elgon close Wagagai top has also the longest Crater Lake in the world, one of the favorite spots for tourist who hike Mount Elgon. According to the Park managers and guides, travellers miss a point if they visited Mt Elgon and never reached Wagagai peak where a modern man can still test himself against nature. According to those living around Mt Elgon, there is a believe that the Imbalu gods stay at Wagagai Peak; a cultural belief in the region said to be able to inspire boys into circumcision.
Imbalu (circumcision) is a very old custom with a mysterious origin and involves the removing the foreskin of the penis and that the desire to be circumcised is believed to be spiritually inspired by the gods that have their seat at Mt Elgon and particularly at Wagagai peak. Along your hike to the Wagagai peak, you will be brought in touch with a plethora of waterfalls and, hot springs, this will refresh your mind and increase your anxiety take on the hike to the top.
The locals believe that if you are a religious man, the intensity of your climb may cause spiritual revelations, perhaps even epiphanies. If you’re not a Mugisu faithful, you’ll still revel in nature’s glory. Climbing the mountain is an experience not soon forgotten and climbing Wagagai Peak at Mt Elgon makes you humble. It is really challenging as everything is compressed into three short days. This climb of Mt Elgon’s highest peak brings you in touch with the deserted moorlands and unveils a magnificent and uncluttered wilderness; it is certainly a test of one’s endurance, both physically and mentally. The local tour guides who have been taking on the Wagagai challenge say that the accent will push you to the absolute limit close to the clouds and at the border with Kenya. They add that mountaineering isn’t fun. It is the opposite. You will suffer as you face exhaustion, cold, heavy mist, altitude sickness, low oxygen, avalanche, falls, and countless other dangers yet the climb will harden you, physically and mentally. It’s a true test of your ability to absorb and endure punishment.
Climate and Geography Around Elgon
The climate is moist to moderate dry with an annual rainfall of over 1,270mm. The dry season runs from June to August, and December to March, although it can rain at any time of the year on the mountain.
The area receives a bimodal pattern of rainfall, generally, with the wettest period occurring from April to October. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 1500 mm on the eastern and northern slopes, to 2000 mm in the southern and the western slopes.
The mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 23° and 15 °C respectively, mid-slopes oriented towards the east and north, at elevations between 2000 and 3000m tend to be wetter than either the lower slopes or the summit. Climbing is best done in the dry months of June to August, and December to February, but other months are also manageable.
Wagagai is positioned approximately 100 km northeast of Lake Victoria and stands at the border of Uganda and Kenya and that the International boundary is marked by the Suam and Lwakhaka Rivers, and the beacon on Sudek Peak. Administratively, the Mountain sits in several districts including Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bududa, Bulambuli, Namisindwa, Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts (in Uganda), from north to south and 50km east to West, more than half of Mt. Elgon (including the majority of its Caldera) lies in Uganda.
The strategic location of Wagagai makes it one of the favorite peaks in Africa. One could have a much greater chance of spotting wildlife and the several waterfalls on the slopes, and there are even hot springs to soak in inside the crater.
Mt Elgon national park boasts of hand-made architecture by local craftsmen for accommodation and these consists of self-contained bandas at Piswa Patrol Camp (2850m), Hunters Cave (3870m), Mude Cave Camp (3500m), Sasa River Camp (2900m) and Budadiri Ranger Station (1250m). Better accommodation facilities including hotels and lodges are available at Mbale town.