Mount Elgon National Park, Bisected By The Kenyan-Ugandan Border

Mount Elgon National Park is a National Park outstandingly bisected by the Kenyan-Ugandan border, 140 km northeast of Lake Victoria. The Ugandan part of the Park stretches over 1 110 km2 whilst the Kenyan part covers only 169 km2, making the total area of the Park 1 279 km2. Mount Elgon National Park was named after Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano and a chief water catchment area for the Nzoia River, flowing to Lake Victoria and for the Turkwel River running into Lake Turkana.

Mount Elgon National Park Venture Uganda Travel Licence: CC

Scenery

The vegetation in Mount Elgon National Park varies with altitude. On the slopes, there is a rich diversity of flora ranging from the wet Montane woodland to open highlands with the giant Lobelia and Groundsel plants scattered. On the higher ground, there are Olive forests, a Bamboo zone and higher still; there is a Hagenia Abyssinica area, moorland with Heaths, Erica Arborea, Tussock grasses, herbs and giant groundsels. There are also giant Elgon Olive trees, Cedar trees and Orchids. Apart from the flora, the Park also has a variety of scenery including mountain peaks like the 4155 m Koitoboss, crags, hot springs, caves like the Kitum cave, waterfalls, calderas, ravines, rivers and mesas.

Mount Elgon National Park Nina R Licence: CC

Wildlife

Mount Elgon National Park is also home to a variety of animals, among them the Buffalo, Elephant, the red-tailed, black-and-white Colobus and blue Monkey, the small Antelope and the Duiker. At least 144 bird species call Mount Elgon home and these include the endangered Lammergeyer, Jackson’s Francolin, the Tacazze sunbird, the eastern bronze-naped Pigeon and Hartlaub’s Turaco.

Elephant and Cape Buffalo Brian Ralphs Licence: CC

Getting there

 Mount Elgo National Park can be accessed from Nairobi by air or by road using either a car or a bus. There are various routes one can take to reach the Park. To reach the Park by air, one needs to take a 19 minute taxi ride from Nairobi to the Nairobi Airport where they will fly for 30 minutes on a plane to Kisumu then drive for 3 hours and 52 minutes from Kisumu to Mount Elgo National Park or ride in a taxi for 19 minutes to  Nairobi Airport, fly for 50 minutes on a plane to Eldoret, then reach Mount Elgon National Park by car  after 4 hours 18 minutes.

Another option is to ride on a plane for one hour from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Kitale, then ride on a car for 3 hours 38 minutes from Kitale to Mount Elgo National Park. One could also fly for 45 minutes on a plane from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Eldoret then ride on or drive a car for 4 hours 18 minutes from Eldoret to Mount Elgo National Park or fly for 40 minutes on a plane from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Kisumu then reach the Park by car after 3 hours 52 minutes.

By road, one can catch a 7 hour long bus ride from Nairobi to Mbale then a 1 hour 10 minute car ride to Mount Elgo National Park or catch a 10 hour 14 minute bus ride from Nairobi to Mbale then a 1 hour  9 minute car ride to Mount Elgo National Park. One could also drive from Nairobi to Mount Elgo National Park via the A104, the A104 and Kisumu – Busia Road or via the A104 and Eldoret-Kitale Road.

Accommodation

There are accommodation options from visitors to the Park, within and around the Park. In the Sipi River Lodge, located on 17 acres of private grounds, visitors are sure to experience a home away from home. The Lodge offers an assortment of accommodation options which are the Dormitory set in an authentic looking thatched roundhouse next to the river which sleeps five people, includes all meals, the two bunk beds has a shower only in a shared bathroom; the Piswa and Sasa Bandas, sleeping two, includes all meals, offers double beds, shower only in a shared bathroom; the Chepkui Family Cottage and Annex, a cosy and romantic cottage with private garden is perched on the hillside which sleep five, includes all meals and offers double beds, En-suite, Shower only, Balcony as well as the Kapsurur and Aniet Cottages, two new luxury cottages that sleep three and offer twin beds, king beds, an en-suite bathroom and more.

Sipi River Lodge Venture Uganda Travel Licence: CC

Another ideal accommodation option is the Mt Elgon Lodge, located 500 m from the gate to the Park. This Lodge offers 14 beautiful en-suite rooms on a bed and breakfast basis with extra meals available upon request. The Lodge also offers Airport Shuttle services.

Muremba Retreat Kitale, located 16 km from Mount Elgon National Park, is a beautiful and serene bird watching haven with delectable menus, excellent security, amazingly landscaped gardens and five room options which are the Podo Room which sleeps one, includes bed and breakfast, the Nandi Room which sleeps two and includes bed and breakfast, the Olea, Olerai and Mikunduri Rooms which also sleeps two and includes bed and breakfast.

At the Barnleys Guest House, a family run homestead holiday makers and backpackers can find accommodation in the available guest rooms situated in the main farmhouse or in the furnished tents placed in the green garden.

Best Time to Visit

Mount Elgon National Park is open to visitors throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the Park is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to March for a better chance to climb the mountain as well as to spot game.

Zebra in Mount Elgon National Park Nina R Licence: CC

Weather and Climate

Mount Elgon National Park experiences moist to moderate dry climate with the dry seasons running from June to August and from December to March. Annual rainfall is over 1 270 mm.

A cave in Mount Elgon National Park Nina R Licence: CC

Other Safety Considerations

The mortal Ebola and Marburg viruses are suspected to be prevalent in areas around Mt. Elgon and visitors are urged to rush to the hospital immediately if they begin to experience flu-like symptoms. For their safety, visitors are also reminded not to disturb wildlife or enter caves.

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