A park for animals, birds and cave exploration
Mount Elgon National Park is 470km (292 miles) north-west of Nairobi, straddling the border between Kenya and Uganda. It is 11km from the town of Kitale, and close to Saiwa Swamp National Park.
The park covers 169km² with Mount Elgon, Kenya’s second biggest mountain, situated at its center. The mountain is covered with vast areas of natural forest and huge Elgon teak and cedar trees that tower 80 feet (24m) above the forest floor. Mount Elgon is also known for its lava tube caves, which are frequented by the resident elephants.
Mount Elgon National Park Facts
Above the tree line, podocarpus and huge bamboo forests cover the mountain slopes. Higher still is open moorland with giant heather, everlasting flowers, giant lobelia and groundsel near the summit. The climate is moist with an annual rainfall of over 1270mm. Mount Elgon itself is an eroded volcano and its peak is a basalt column, called Koitobos, which is 13,852 ft(4,155m) above sea level.
The mountainous park has many cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, hot springs and, of course, some amazing mountain peaks for visitors to enjoy, in addition to the wildlife. Carry water with you to avoid dehydration, and bring a camera and binoculars for viewing the wildlife, and a spotter’s guide to identify the animals and birds.
Caves and waterfalls Mount Elgon National Park
What to do, what to see – attractions to Mount Elgon National Park
The wild and remote location of this national park offers excellent viewing of African animals found in Kenya. There are over 400 elephants plus buffalo, leopards, the colobus and blue monkeys (a protected species), hogs, waterbucks and various species of antelope. They can be viewed from a 4×4 wheel drive truck and the many hiking trails which wind around the park.
There are also three nature trails that lead to both the caves and Elephant Bluff. You will also find breathtaking views of the park from Endebass Bluff
Mountain climbing or trekking is another attraction in Mount Elgon National Park. For those who want to combine their safari with a visit to the peak of Mount Elgon, which sits at 4,155 meters above sea level, climbing can be accomplished in two to three hours depending on one’s pace.
The park is also home to at least 240 different species of birds, including the cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Hartlaub’s turaco and redheaded parrot.
A unique attraction in Mount Elgon National Park is its four explorable caves. They are called Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil and Ngwarisha and they are favored gathering places for the elephants. Every night, trails of elephants venture up the narrow path and go deep into the caves to scratch off the salt-rich deposits with their tusks. They have consequently been nicknamed the “underground elephants”. The longest cave is Kitum, which means “Place of Ceremonies” and it extends for about 200m (656 feet) into Mount Elgon.
The main entrance to the park is via the tarmac road to Kitale and through the Chorlim main gate. There are other gates at Kassawai, Kiptogot and Kimothon, and there is an airstrip at the park headquarters.
Accommodation within the national park is available at the Mount Elgon Lodge, Kapkurur Banda and other public campsites.
Mount Elgon national park is accessible year round for camping, animal viewing, mountain climbing/hiking and bird watching.