Mount Elgon National Park is located on the western side of Kenya along the border of Uganda where it shares sister protection with Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park under the same name. The Kenyan national park encompasses an area of 494 square miles (1,179 sq km).
Mount Elgon is the pinnacle attraction within the park reaching a summit of 14,177 feet (4,321 m). It is believed to be the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa. Sitting atop the plateau, the mountain rises 10,070 feet (3,070 m) from base to summit.
Mount Elgon is 50 miles (80 km) in diameter and features five separate peaks. The highest point is the Wagagai peak. In descending order, the remaining peaks include: Sudek 14,114 feet (4,302 m), Koitobos 13,852 feet (4,222 m), Mubiyi 13,816 feet (4,211 m), and Masaba 13,652 feet (4,161 m).
The highest and two lowest peaks are actually located in Uganda with the second highest being right on the border and shared between Kenya and Uganda. Koitobos is the third highest peak and the only one solely in Kenya.
The Elgon caldera is one of the largest intact calderas in the world rivaling the Tanzania neighbor Ngorogoro Crater caldera which holds the title as the world’s largest. The slopes of the mountain feature diverse vegetation including montane forest, moorland, and tundra.
Although the park is fairly small, it features diverse habitats which include savannah, montane forest, woodland, and alpine moorlands noted earlier. During the months of June and July, Mount Elgon National Park is renowned with locals for its abundance of wildflowers that blanket across the moorlands. Orchids are one of the flowering highlights.
The landscape of the park includes cliffs, waterfalls, caves, gorges, mesas, calderas, hot springs, and of course with Mount Elgon mountain summits. Four of the caves can be explored with Kitum cave descending 656 feet (200 m) into the side of Mount Elgon. The hot springs which reach temperatures of 118 °F (48 °C) can be seen in the volcano’s crater.
Elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, antelope, duiker, giant forest hog, bushpig, and the beautiful black and white colobus monkeys are some of the more commonly seen wildlife species. Leopard, hyena and the African wild cat are predator species that visitors can hope to see.
Activities at Mount Elgon National Park
Here are some other activities which visitors can consider during their east Africa safari experience in Mount Elgon National Park:
- Elgon Safari Walk: Explore the nature wildlife on foot, an authentic and economical means of exploring wildlife in Mount Elgon National Park
- Photography safari tours: Visitors on a photo safari can share a photography tour with like-minded individuals and capture their favourite moments.
- Sightseeing tours: Visitors can go on mountain hikes, abseiling and walks to places like Sipi Falls, Kitum cave, wildlife reserves in Kapchorwa, trek the Pisa trail or climb Mount Elgon & descend from the highest point at Wagagai peak to enjoy a panoramic view of the largest caldera on earth.
Best time to go
Understanding the best time to visit Kenya is important as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation.
The best time to visit Mount Elgon National Park is during the dry (June – August and December – March) seasons. It is important to note that hiking to the top of the mountain and all other park activities continue even during the wet/rainy season