Straddling the Uganda-Kenya border, 120 kilometres northeast of Lake Victoria, Mount Elgon is the eighth highest mountain in Africa and has the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world. The park is named after Mount Elgon, which is believed to have erupted about 24 million years ago. The park is characterized by a crater, tarns, lava caves, streams, forests and valleys.
One of the caves, Kitum, stretches almost 200 meters into Mount Elgon and it is believed that the salt-licking Elephants and other animals have contributed over time in the expansion of the caves. Rock paintings can be found in one of the caves.
Hiking and walking is one of the highlights of a visit to Mount Elgon, although the vehicle routes lead to animal viewing areas and to some of the caves. Along the routes there are spectacular views of the escarpments, gorges and rivers. Self guided walking trails are popular and the routes lead to the caves that can be explored including Kitum. Besides the cave exploration other activities include birding and primate viewing.
Mount Elgon National Park is home to a variety of small antelope and duiker, as well forest monkeys, including the black-and-white colobus and blue monkey. The other common animals found in the park include buffaloes, bushbucks, waterbucks, olive baboons, giant forest hogs and duikers. The area is also home to over 300 bird species including the endangered Lammergeier, African Goshawk and Baglafecht Weaver. Click here to read more about Kenya Safari Animals and Wildlife.
The climate in Mount Elgon is generally moist to moderate dry. Annual rainfall is over 1,270 millimetres (50 in). The dry seasons run from June to August and from December to March, although it can rain at any time.
Mount Elgon can be climbed at any time of year, but during the long rains in April and May, the trails become slippery, slow and tedious. The dry seasons (June-August and November to March) are best, especially in the spring months of November to December when the wildflowers are in bloom. Wildlife viewing is also great during the dry season.
There is no significant accommodation within the park although the KWS runs self catering accommodation options at Koitoboss guesthouse for a capacity of six people and another facility at Kapkuro Banda for a maximum of 3 people per unit. Both facilities are located down the mountain-from the park gate.
Camping is allowed at designated public campsites at Ringai camp, Nyati camp and Chorlim gate camp. However, tourists or visitors have to carry camping gear and supplies for their period of stay. There is a private camp at Salt lick special campsite with some basic camping facilities.