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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Mount Elgon National Park


Mount Elgon is an eroded, dormant volcano with a huge caldera around the rim of which are a number of distinct peaks. Wagagai (4321m) is the highest and together with Sudek (4176m), serves to demarcate the Kenya-Uganda border. Another prominent summit is Koitobos-a spectacular mass of basalt on the boundary of the Mt.Elgon national park.

Elgon has sometimes been called ‘’the mountain of illusion’’ a name bestowed on it by the many people who, over the years, have become lost in its forests or on its high moorlands. The scores of almost identical ridges and valley, that traverse the very large of the mountain, become a trap for the unwary when the dense mountain mist descends and clings to the slopes, perhaps for several days without a break.
Mt.Elgon National park stretches from the densely forested lower slopes, up the mountain, to the highly moorlands where the giant Lobelia and senecio plants flourish, and then down to the caldera and the massive Suam Gorge that breaches its eastern rim. The park was established in 1976 and has an area of 169 kms; relatively small but capturing the mountain spectrum of ecological zones and biodiversity.
Elgon bird life is amazing in its variety, particularly in the forest; Ross’ Turacco and the red-fronted parrot are particularly beautiful. Animals include buffalo, leopard, baboons, water buck, bush buck, zebra, giraffe, tree hyrax, giant forest hog and a variety of duikers. The elusive forest elephant are remarkable for their exploration of the many Elgon caves.

For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years they have made nocturnal forays into the caves to dig our salt and the work of their tusks has deepened the caves significantly .Kitum cave, more than 60m deep, is probably the most well known; but there are many others.Photography, horse riding and the gentle hike up Endless bluff are some of the acidities that are suitable for those who are not so fit or have limited time.