Kitum Cave

The Caves of Mt. Elgon

Useful Information

Location: Mt Elgon.
Via tarmac road to Kitale and then to the Chorlim Gate, either via Endebess or take the tarmac road 11 km past Kitale and turn left onto a murrum road leading to the gate.
(1.027768, 34.75446)
Open: All year daily 6-18.
Fee: Kenya Citizens: Adults KES 300, Children KES 215.
Non-Residents: Adults USD 26, Children USD 17.
Classification: Speleologylava tube, Elephant caves.
Light: none
Dimension: L=200 m, A=2,409 m asl.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Joyce Lundberg, Donald A. McFarlane (2006): Speleogenesis of the Mount Elgon elephant caves, Kenya, Geological Society of America Special Paper 404, 2006. pdf
Address: Mt. Elgon National Park, P.O. Box 753, Kitale, Kenya, Tel: +254-20-3539903. E-mail: contact E-mail:
Kenya Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 40241-00100, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-20-2379408, Free: 0800-597000. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1968 Mt Elgon National Park formed.
AUG-1982 after a roof fall the path was blocked for the elephants.
2003 Surveyed by D. McFarlane and J. Lundberg, BCRA Grade 5.


Mt. Elgon is Kenya's second-highest mountain, an ancient eroded volcano with a huge caldera. On its summit exists a spectacular flat topped basalt column known as Koitobos. The mountain belongs both to Kenya and Uganda, it is located on the border. At the slopes of Mount Elgon lie some caves, which are probably the most extraordinary caves on Earth. They were formed as lava tubes by lava flows from Mt Elgon, long ago. Today only short pieces of the caves remain, erosion destroyed large parts of the caves and transformed the volcanic rock, producing numerous salts and minerals. So the walls contain large amount of salt.

At the first glimpse the caves look like natural caves with some remains of human modifications. There are long furrows, which look like traces of picks. The first explorers thought, the remains were a sign of ancient Egyptians, which were searching for gold and precious stones, far away from their home.

But at night the enigma is solved: frequent night visitors such as elephants and buffaloes come to lick the natural salt from the cave walls. The elephants often have problems because of their size, so they hit the head. That's why recommends helmets for wild caves. Seems the elephants do not read our advices. However, they know the path to the salt, find the walls in the total darkness of both night and cave, and then break off some salty rocks with their tusks. These are the furrows which looked like man made.

At Mt Elgon are three vast caves which are explorable. The most famous and biggest one is Kitum Cave, it extends 200 m into the mountain side. A short trail leads to the cave and there is a Kitum Cave guide book available at the gate. Most people know the site under this name. A second short trail leads to Makingeny Cave. The third trail of the park leads to the Elephant Bluff. Ngwarisha Cave in much smaller, and there are two more which are only about 20 to 30 m in diameter, Chepnyalil Cave and Kiptoro Cave.

The most spectacular visit is during night, because you are surrounded by elephants. On the other hand this is also dangerous. It seems the elephants are not dangerous, but they might be frightened by you or something else which could cause a panic. And in the dark and narrow cave this could be deadly. There is a reason why the park is open only during daylight.

We strongly recommend to book a guided tour with one of the numerous tour agencies. Normally you should be able to book a day trip with your hotel. The guides know where the caves are, how to best get there, and all the other details which are so important. Also, its better not to drive yourself in a Third World country. Also be careful when visiting the site, in the 1980s, a new strain of Marburg was fatal to a Frenchman and a Danish teenager after visiting Kitum Cave. Diseases are generally propagated by inhalation of guano dust. Although there were no other cases, we guess it's always a good idea to wear a mask in caves which are visited by animals in tropical countries. After the pandemic we are all used to wear them.