The Mount Elgon, on the Kenya-Uganda border is a volcanic mountain, formed when the earth’s crust erupted, creating the Great Rift Valley. The park is one of Kenya’s most beautiful, wild and intact, with vast areas of untouched forest.
Altitude 8,000 – 13,800ft.
Area 169 sq. kms
Distance from Nairobi 470 kms
Airstrip at Park Headquarters
Opened: April 1968
Third Highest Mountain in East Africa
Highlights: Kitum ‘Underground’ Elephant caves, Wide variety of game to view, bird
& primate watching, Nature Trails, hiking, picnics, fishing, Cave exploration & geological safaris
Exploring Mount Elgon National Park
Game viewing is excellent: The park is home to about 400 elephants, buffalos, leopard, the protected colobus and blue monkeys, the giant forest hog, waterbuck and other types of antelope. Over 240 species of birds have been recorded. The huge Elgon teak and cedar trees, some over 80ft. tall dominate the forest scenery.
A major attraction is a series of four caves: Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil and Ngwarisha, all of which are explorable. Kitum is the largest, extending horizontally for 200m into the heart of the mountain. In Maasai, its name means Place of Ceremonies.
The caves are favourite gathering places for elephants. Every night, long convoys venture deep into the caves to feed on the salt rich deposits. This phenomenon has earned them the title “underground elephants”.
Mount Elgon also offers excellent climbing and walking opportunities. No special equipment for hiking is required and the park management provides guides. The highest peak on the Kenyan side is Koitobos (4,200m). It is accessed through beautiful moorlands and springs that can be seen along the way.
The Mount Elgon National Park is criss-crossed by four rivers, leading to Lake Turkana: the Nzoia, Suam, Kerio and Turkwell. Sport fishing is possible in the Suam River. There are no lodges in the park, but there are three campsites and a picnic site. Three short nature trails lead to Kitum Cave, Makingeni cave and the Elephant Bluff.
Other places to visit include Kerio Valley National Reserve. Kerio Valley is a 4,000ft. deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on the slopes leading down to dry thorn bush at the base, with impressive scenery. The Kerio Valley was made a national reserve in 1983 for its bio-diverse importance, covering an area of 66sq. kms.
Saiwa Swamp National Park is one of Kenya’s smallest parks, only three sq. kms. It was opened in 1974 to protect the semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope noted for its widespread hooves which allow it to walk on the surface of the swamp. It is also home of the endangered De Brazza Monkey and a variety of otter, giant forest squirrel, black and white colobus monkey, bushbuck and greyduiker. Accommodation is available at the Sirikwa tented camp outside the park. There is one camping ground and one serviced campsite within the park. It has three nature trails, bridges for walking over the swamp and three Sitatunga viewing platforms.