Mount Elgon on the Kenya/Uganda border is a volcanic mountain, formed when the earth’s crust erupted creating the Great Rift Valley. The National Park is one of Kenya’s most beautiful, still wild and intact, with vast areas of untouched forest. game viewing is excellent; the Park is home to an estimated 400 elephants, buffalo, leopard, the protected colobus and blue monkeys, giant forest hog, watwerbuck and various other types of antelope. Over 240 species of birds have been recorded. Huge Elgon teak and cedar trees, some over 80 ft 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 200 m. into the heart of the mountain. In Maasai, its name means Place of the Ceremonies.
The caves are favorite gathering places for elephants. Every night, long convoys venture deep into the caves to feed off the salt rich deposits. This nightly 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 Kenya side is Koitobos (4,200 m.). It is reached accross beautiful moorlands and the hot springs can be visited on the way.
The Park is criss-crossed by four rivers, leading to Lake Turkana: the Nzoia, Suam, Kerio and Turkwell. Sport fishing is available in the Suam River. There are no lodges inside the Park, but there are three campsites and one 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 and Saiwa Swamp National Park. Kerio Valley is a 4,000 ft deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on the slopes leading down to dry thorn bush at the base, with impressive views. The Kerio Valley was made a national reserve in 1983 for its bio-diverse importance, covering an area of 66 sq. kms.
Saiwa Swamp National Park is one of Kenya’s smallest parks, only 3 sq. kms. Opened in 1974 to protect the semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelope notable for its wide spread hooves which allow it to walk at 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 grey duiker.
Accommodation is available in Sirikawa 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.