Mount Elgon National Park Kenya

Mount Elgon National Park

High in the mist-wreathed hills of western Kenya is a towering volcanic giant, Mount Elgon, crowned by a vast caldera etched by glacial tarns, honeycombed by labyrinthine caves, fissured by valleys and cascaded by streams. Visitors can explore the forest, see the elephant caves and also enjoy biking, hiking, and rock on the eighth highest mountain in Africa, Mount Elgon.

Mount Elgon is Kenya’s second highest Mountain. It lies 140 km north-east of Lake Victoria and is bisected by the Kenya-Uganda border. An ancient eroded Volcano with a huge Caldera, its summit has the spectacular flat-topped basalt column known as Koitobos. Another unique feature of the Mountain is the Lava Tube Caves, some over 60 meters wide and only Caves in the world frequented by Elephants (and other animals) digging for salts. Mount Elgon National Park was gazetted in 1968 and covers a narrow transect on its north-eastern slopes. The remaining Forest and moorland is part of the Mount Elgon Forest Reserve.

Together with the Fauna and Flora, the Park is endowed with variety and breathtaking scenery of Cliffs, Caves, Waterfalls, Gorges, Mesas, Calderas, Hot Springs, and the Mountain Peaks. Wildlife attraction includes Elephant, Leopard, Giant Forest Hog, Bushback, Buffalo, Duiker, Black and White Colobus, Blue Monkeys, and Golden Cat, among others. Birds: More than 240 bird species in the area, including the African Crowned Eagle, Ross Turaco and Red-Fronted Parrot.

Activities include vehicle circuits leading to animal viewing areas, the caves and Koitoboss peak; self-guided walking trails (ask for the Kitum Cave guide book at the gate); Hiking to Endebess Bluff and Koitoboss Peak; Primate and Bird Watching; Cave Explorations; Camping; Horse-Riding; Photography.

Mount Elgon is also well known for its four Explorable Caves, formed by the action of water on Ancient Volcanic Ash. These Caves play a vital and unique role in the lives of Forest Animals. Families, and sometimes entire villages of the El Gonyi, a Maasai Tribe, lived for centuries in the Caves with their Cattle. The most famous cave of all is Kitum, where each night Elephant herds gather and begin a slow procession deep into the Mountain. The Elephants make their way through the Caves, following well-worn paths made by generations before them. Deep in the Cave, they use their tusks to excavate the walls, seeking the Natural Salt which they lick from the scarred Rock. Witnessing this incredible sight is just one of the many wonders of Elgon.

The Minerals contained in the Rocks of the Caves are vital to the well-being of Cattle and other grazing animals. High Rainfall in this area has denuded the soil of Natural salts and Minerals; the caves provide the only source of Salt. Elephant, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Duiker, Forest Hogs, even the Colobus and Blue Monkeys need a ration of Salt; on Mount Elgon, they find it only in the Caves.

A fascinating area, Mount Elgon National Park is one of the few Parks where walking explorations are possible and where you can spot the webbed foot Sitatunga Antelope in the Saiwa Swamps. This rare little Antelope is extremely shy and quiet tracking is required to find it. However, the sight of this Elegant Brown Antelope ‘running across water’ is well worth it and simply magical.