What is a volcanic mountain and how is it formed?
Volcanic mountains usually have an up like crater at the summit, formed around such a vent from the ash and lava expelled through it. They are formed through the process of vulcanization where molten lava under the earth’s crust rises up along lines of weakness and extrudes to form several volcanic features including mountains. Uganda has several volcanic mountains but the most popular include: Mount Elgon, mount Muhabura, and Moroto. You can see some of these amazing mountains on a safari in Uganda.
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano that is located in the eastern side of Uganda with the largest surface area of a volcano in the world (caldera). Mt Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in East Africa with the second highest peak in Uganda- Wagagai (4321m). The top of the mountain is surrounded by a series of rugged peaks and a crater covering over 40km.
Major tourist activities carried out on Mt Elgon
Mountain/ Volcano climbing
Many tourists find mount Elgon an exciting alternative to the strenuous climbs in East Africa with the same attractions, a milder climate and lower elevation. Elgon offers comparable attractions, including Afro-montane botany. A number of routes ascend the summit of Mount Elgon. The Sasa trail ascends to the 4321m Wagagai peak from the shortest and most direct option, and descends to Budadiri in 3 or 4days. The Sipi Trail follows a longer but gentler route, starting at kapkwai (2050m).
Hiking/ Nature walks
The 7km bamboo trail to kapkwai cave passes through tropical and bamboo forest on the way to the Tutum cave. Along the trail are many primates, birds, and rare trees such as Elgon teak. Alternatively, you can go to the view point through Nabuyonga loop where you can see Jackson’s summit and Wagagai peak.
A highlight of any ascent of Mount Elgon’s enchanting slopes is the Transverse through the distinctive vegetation zones found only on East Africa’s highest mountains. The lowest of these zones is the montane forest (2500m), which gives way to the bamboo (2000-3000m), followed by the groves of giant heather (3000-3500m). The mountain side opens into moorland dotted with outlandish forms of giant lobelias and fascinating groundsels.
Excellent birding opportunities exist around Kapkwai forest exploration centre and Chebonet river. Among the bird species found here include: African Goshawk, Chubb’s Cisticola, white-chinned Prinia, African blue fly, Chinspot Batis, Machinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders among others.
Sport fishing is done above the finest of the three waterfalls at Sipi. The largest fish normally weighs 3kgs. Fishing is restricted to designated sites and places where interested sport fishers are urged to bring their own equipment and secure a permit from the Sipi river lodge.
This is another sport activity coming soon that the Uganda Wildlife Authority is planning to introduce at the Mt Elgon National park. The details about this sport will be provided in due time.
Also known as mount Muhavura, Mt Muhabura is an extinct volcano located on the border between Uganda and Rwanda. Muhabura is 4127m high and the third highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range which is part of the Albertine rift valley. Mt Muhabura provides hikers 6-7 hrs a day to hike the challenging ascent with its own rewards including fascinating views of the surrounding countryside as well as wildlife- birds, primates and buffaloes.
Mount Muhabura offers spectacular views of the beautiful crater and vast plains on the slopes where mountain gorillas dwell. It is the steepest of the volcano ranges. The major activity done along Mount muhabura is mountain climbing.
Climbing Mount Muhabura is an exceptional tourist activity that tourists get to enjoy when they visit the mountain. The mountain is tempting for anyone to climb due to the spectacular views of its summit comprised of a crater lake.
Mount Moroto lies in the extreme east of Uganda, 3km by road east of Moroto’s central business district. The mountain is the most incredible place to view some of the dry north eastern. It is adjacent to the town of Moroto in Moroto district, Karamoja, northern region of Uganda. With Mt Elgon in the south, the mountain is part of the chain volcanoes along the Kenyan border.
Moroto is a forest reserve protecting a range of habitats from arid thorn savannah to dry montane forest. The mountain is also home to wildlife though not plentiful. This includes potos, monkey or the golden cat.
Mt Moroto supports a number of activities mainly bird watching as it hosts 220 bird species, hiking among others.