Mount Elgon

Mount Elgon

Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano located in Eastern Uganda on the Uganda and Kenya border.

The mountain’s highest peak Wagagai stands at (4,321 metres (14,177 ft)) located entirely within Uganda.

Although there is no verifiable evidence of its earliest volcanic activity, geologists estimate that Mount Elgon is at least 24 million years old, making it the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa. The mountain’s name originates from its Maasai name, Elgonyi.

The Mount Elgon crater rim is about 5 miles (8 Km) in width.

Hiking Mount Elgon in Uganda is majorly done from Mbale and Kapchorwa.

Physical features

Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its vast form, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in diameter, rises 3,070 metres (10,070 ft) above the surrounding plains.

Its cooler heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below, and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.


The major dominant peaks on Mount Elgon include;

Wagagai (4,321 metres (14,177 ft)), in Uganda

Sudek (4,302 metres (14,114 ft)) on the Kenya/Uganda border

Koitobos (4,222 metres (13,852 ft)), a flat-topped basalt column in Kenya

Mubiyi (4,211 metres (13,816 ft)) in Uganda

Masaba (4,161 metres (13,652 ft)) in Uganda

The Mount Elgon caldera is the world’s largest intact caldera.

The warm springs by the Suam River

Endebess Bluff (2,563 metres (8,409 ft))

Ngwarisha, Makingeny, Chepnyalil, and Kitum caves: Kitum Cave is over 60 metres (200 ft) wide and penetrates 200 metres (660 ft). The cave contains salt deposits and it is frequented by wild elephants that lick the salt exposed by gouging the walls with their tusks. It became notorious following the publication of Richard Preston’s book The Hot Zone in 1994 for its association with the Marburg virus after two people who had visited the cave (one in 1980 and another in 1987) contracted the disease and died.

The mountain soils are red laterite. The mountain is the catchment area for the several rivers such as the Suam River, which becomes the Turkwel downstream and drains into Lake Turkana, and the Nzoia River and the Lwakhakha River, which flow to Lake Victoria. The town of Kitale is in the foothills of the mountain. Mount Elgon is shared by two national parks; Mount Elgon national park in Eastern Uganda and Mount Elgon national park in western Kenya.

Animal life on Mount Elgon

A unique population of African bush elephants is present around the mountain that venture deep into caves to access salt licks. This population was formerly present around all the mountain, but has since been reduced to the Kenyan side, where they venture into Kitum Cave.

There are several disjunct populations of mammal species that are restricted to Mount Elgon, including the Elgon shrew (Crocidura elgonius), Rudd’s mole-rat (Tachyoryctes ruddi), and Thomas’s pygmy mouse (Mus sorella). There are also several disjunct populations of rare bird species, including Sharpe’s longclaw (Macronyx sharpei), Hunter’s cisticola (Cisticola hunteri), Jackson’s spurfowl (Pternistis jacksoni), and the Elgon francolin (Scleroptila elgonensis).

An endemic subspecies of the bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus heterochrous) is restricted to the mountain. The possibly extinct Du Toit’s torrent frog (Arthroleptides dutoiti), considered an EDGE species due to its evolutionary distinctiveness, is known only from a single specimen collected on the Kenyan side of the mountain.

Plant life on Mount Elgon

Some rare plants are found on the mountain, including Ardisiandra wettsteinii, Carduus afromontanus, Echinops hoehnelii, Ranunculus keniensis, and Romulea keniensis.

Culture and social life of the people on Mount Elgon

The Mount Elgon area is home to four tribes, the Bagisu, the Sapiinjak, the Sabaot, and the Ogiek.

Crater Lakes on Mount Elgon

Jackson’s pool

Jackson's pool Mount Elgon
Jackson’s pool

Jackson’s Pool a crater lake on Mount Elgon standing at 4,050m is a natural pool with shallow waters. This pool lies in the shadow of the 4,165m high Jackson’s Peak, a free-standing volcanic plug rising from the western flank of the mountain.

These features were named after the explorer Frederick Jackson, who in 1889 was the first European to climb Mount Elgon.

Jackson’s Pool will give you amazing views on mount Elgon as you enjoy the cool breeze high the volcano.

Activities to do around Mount Elgon

Mountain hiking


Mountain biking

Hiking Sipi falls

Cultural tours

Coffee making experience

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