Mt Elgon National Reserve

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 metres 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.

Rising from the jungles that border Uganda, Mt Elgon is an impressively craggy extinct Volcano. This remote region makes for interesting trekking through deep forest and across broad moorlands. There is plenty of wildlife and plenty to discover. The peaks are ideal for climbing, and shelter a series of warm geothermal springs. The mountain has many caves for the visitor explore. In these caves, known collectively as Elkony, ancient cave paintings decorate the walls, and bats and rock hyrax are found among the winding passageways. 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 naturalsalt which they lick from the scarred rock. Witnessing this incredible sight is just one of the many wonders of Elgon.

Climatic conditions – The climate is moist to moderate dry. Annual rainfall is over 1,270 mm
Attractions – 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 – 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.

Access – Road: Access is via tarmac road to Kitale, branch to murram road and then to the Chorlim Gate. Two routes to the gate can be used, either via Endebess or take the tarmac road 15 km past Kitale and turn left onto a murrum road leading to the gate.

Accommodation – Lodges: Mount Elgon Lodge, 0.5 km outside the park gate. KWS Self-Catering Accommodation: Kapkuro Bandas, Koitoboss Guesthouse, Kitum Guesthouse

Best time to visit – All year round

Activities – 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

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