Mt Elgon National Park : The Mt Elgon National park covers an area of 1,279 square kilometres and is bisected by the border of Kenya and Uganda. The best East African Safari tour or the cross border tourism .The Ugandan part of the park covers 1,110 km2 while the Kenyan part covers 169 km2. The Kenyan part of the park was gazetted in 1968 , the Ugandan part in 1992.Mount Elgon National Park is unique safari destinations because the park is split down the middle by the Kenyan-Ugandan border. It is also an important water catchment area for the Nzoia River, which flows to Lake Victoria, and for the Turkwel which flows into Lake Turkana.
Elephants and buffalo can be found on the lower slopes. The park is also home to a variety of small antelope and duiker, as well forest monkeys, including the black-and-white colobus and blue monkey. red-tailed monkey have been reported after being thought to be locally extinct. Both leopard and hyena exist there.
Mount Elgon is home to at least 144 bird species. It is also marked as Important bird area( IBA) best for bird watchers . Especially the Jackson’s spurfowl, the eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Hartlaub’s turaco, the Tacazze sunbird and the endangered lammergeier, due to their restricted range. Maathai’s longleg, an endangered dragonfly was discovered here in 2005 and named after Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai
Together with the fauna and flora, the park has a variety of scenery; this includes cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, calderas, hot springs, and mountain peaks. The most popular areas of the park are ;the vast caves where frequent night visitors such as elephants and buffaloes come to lick the natural salt found on the cave walls. Kitum cave, with overhanging crystalline walls, enters 200 m into the side of Mt. Elgon.
At the Endebess Bluff there a panoramic view of the areas’ escarpments, gorges, mesas, and rivers. The highest peak of Mt. Elgon on the Kenya side, Koitoboss, measures 4,155 metres and is easily reached by hikers in about two hours from the road’s end.
How to get there
The park has several routes by road one route leads from Kitale town, while there are two options leading from Eldoret. Both lead by murram road to Mt.Elgon Lodge and Chorlim gate. Chorlim gate is the main gate which also leads to the park headquarters
Visitors can also fly to the Eldoret airport (70 KM away) or the airstrip within the park. There is also Kitale airstrip, located 10km outside Kitale town on the main Kitale-Bungoma road, is 30 km from the park.
Attractions of Mt Elgon National Park
Mt. Elgon is one of the National parks in kenya with several caves which were formed from ancient lava tubes namely Kitum, Making’eny, Chepnyalil ,Ngwarisha and many others some of which are outside protected areas
Salt-Mining Elephants of Kitum Cave
Kitum Cave is regularly visited by herds of elephants, dubbed the troglodyte tuskers, as well as bushbuck, Red Duiker, Grey Duiker and buffalo, all in search of the salts that abound in the mineral-rich earth of the caves.
Making’eny Cave, located 1.5km from Kitum, has a spectacular waterfall over its mouth.
The Bagisu believe that Mount Elgon is the manifestation of their founding father, Masaba, and call the mountain by this name. Both tribes undertake subsistence farming. Mount Elgon National Park is home to 2 tribes, the Sabiny and the Bagisu. The Sabiny speak Sebei, a Nilotic language and the Bagisu speak a dialect of the Lumasaba language called Lugisu.
Park Entry fee
Citizen kshs 300 kshs 215
Residents kshs 300 kshs 215
Non residents 26USD 17 USD
Things to do at Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon’s hiking trails are one of its major attractions. Unlike other climbs in East Africa, Mount Elgon’s trails are accessible throughout the year and they require no specialist climbing equipment.
than other hiking trails in East Africa, allowing you to enjoy its stunning scenery without any distractions. Mount Elgon has 3 main hiking trails which vary in length and difficulty.
Mount Elgon National Park contains over 300 species of bird and it has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) Bird enthusiasts should look out for rare species like the endangered lammergeier. You should also look out for the African blue fly-catcher, the African goshawk, and the cinnamon-chested bee eater.
There is the Sasa Trail which is shortest but most challenging trail is a four-day round trip. This is the original route to Wagagai, Mount Elgon’s 4,321m peak. The trail begins in the town of Budadiri in the Eastern Region of Uganda at an altitude of 1,250m. The first day involves a tough ascent of 1,650m. The trail then enters the forest, and you reach Mudangi Cliffs which are climbed using ladders. Next, there’s 2.5 hour walk through the picturesque bamboo forest. Day 2 features a gentler walk, and you will reach Wagagai on Day 3.
The Piswa Trail, A less strenuous but longer alternative to the Sasa Trail. You will cover 49km across 7 days. The trail begins at the village of Kapkwata on the north side of the mountain at an altitude of 2,190m. The trail is famous for its breath-taking views of Uganda’s Karamojong Plains and Kenya’s Kapenguria and Nandi Hills.
The Sipi Trail: The longest trail covers 56km and takes around 4-6 days to complete. The trail begins at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, just a few kilometres from Sipi Falls. One of its highlights is the section through Tatum Cave which is famous for its ancient cave paintings.
Day Hikes: The Forest Exploration Centre has opened 3 shorter trails which are only 3-7km. These trails are perfect for less experienced hikers and for travellers who want to get a taste of Mount Elgon’s beautiful scenery and wildlife within a short period of time.
The best time to visit Mt Elgon National Park
Although Mount Elgon is accessible at any time of the year, we recommend that you visit during the drier seasons of June to August and November to March.
Visiting in November or December will allow you to see its delightful wildflowers in bloom.
In contrast, Mount Elgon’s trails are more slippery in the wetter months and this can make your hike more challenging. Whenever you visit, you’ll be surrounded by panoramic views.
Accommodations at Mt Elgon National park
Depending on your budget there are variety of facilities to chose from during your safari visit to Mt Elgon National Park ranging from economy, midrange to the luxurious hotels, lodges and cottages. I will just mentions a few ,Mount Elgon Hotel and spa located in the suburbs of Mbale is one of the midrange accommodations available with Sipi river Lodge just at the foothills of the mountain is one of the favourite luxury accommodation. This Lodge has spectacular views of the park with an exclusive view of Kapsurur falls. There is also Kapkwai cottages just at the entrance of the park ,is an example of a budget accommodation ,built initially as a base for students who came to visit the rich forest.