Mount Moroto Lies in the extreme east of Uganda and is the most accessible place to see some of the dry northeastern “special”, many at the western edge of their ranges here in Karamoja province. One of a chain of volcanoes along the Kenyan border that begins with Mount Elgon in south and includes Mountains Kadam and Morungole, Moroto is a forest reserve protecting a range of habitats from arid thorn savanna to dry montane forest. Although a long hike is required to reach the higher areas, excellent arid thorn savanna and rocky slopes are accessible from the town at the foot of the mountain.
Lake Bisina and Lake Opeta from an eastern extension of Kyoga system and are included as sites for Uganda’s only endemic bird, Fox’s Weaver. Although no facilities are present, the lakes can be covered enroute from Mount Elgon to Moroto or visited for a day from a base in Mbale or Soroti.
Lake Bisina is more accessible of the two and is easily reached on a good dirt road that branches north off the main Mbale-Soroti road at Kapiri, 20km southeast of Soroti. Continue along this road to the lake edge and arrange with a local fisherman to take you across to the northwestern corner where a colony of Fox’s Weavers nest in the waterside vegetation. Numbers peak in March and April but there are at least a few present year-round. Quiet areas of water lilies support African Pygmy Goose and Lesser Jacana and Shoebill is fairly frequently seen at the edge of the extensive papyrus.
The dense thorn savanna around the T-junction with the Mbale road 11 km from town supports White-bellied Go-away Bird, Jackson’s Hornbill, Fawn-colored Lark, African Grey Flycatcher, the handsome Silver bird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Mouse-colored Penduline Tit, Pygmy Batis, Brubru and Eastern Vilet-backed Sunbird. Drive south from the junction for 5 km, watching for Dark Chanting Goshawk, Yellow-necked Spur fowl, Crested Bustard and the smart Black-headed Plover at the roadside. The Plovers and Temminck’s Courser may also be seen on the airstrip closer to town. Pairs of D’Arnaud’s Barbet are frequently seen engaged in their bizarre tail-wagging duets. Listen for the distinctive sound of Pebbles being struck together that may reveal the presence of the Grey Wren Warbler….
OTHER WILD LIFE
Other wildlife is not plentiful in the Moroto area but may include Potos, Monkey or the spectacular Golden Cat.
Moroto can be reached from Mbale either via Soroti (90 km tarmarc, or 170 km 2 WD dirt, drive time required 6 hours ) or via the direct eastern route ( 230 km. 2 WD dirt, drive time required 7 hours ). There is good birding along both routes . To reach the Seminary from Moroto, turn right at the first roundabout in town and continue around the base of the mountain for 7.5 km.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
The Moroto Hotel on the edge of town has double rooms for $ 30 person, although there are two more basic yet clean hotels on the main road . Restaurants serve local foods and basic provisions are available from numerous stores.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE THE PARK
The road from Moroto to Soroti crosses the Bokora Game Reserve 50 km from town and dry thorn bush at the roadside supports, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Beautiful Sunbird and Grey-capped Social Weaver. Pink-breasted Lark favours the arid Acacia savanna in this area. Hartlaub’s Bustard has been described as “common on the Bokora Plains” and Red-fronted Warbler, a scarce species in Uganda, is known from arid scrub at the roadside between Kangole and Iriri villages (30 -65km from Moroto).
The direct eastern route from Mbale to Moroto is an excellent birding road although the journey takes longer than via Soroti. The stretch
between Nakapiripit and Moroto is particularly good with Pygmy Falcon, Jackson’s Hornbill and White-headed Buffalo Weaver common at the roadside although a fair selection of dry country “specials” may be found a mere 25km north of the Kapchorwa turnoff.