Monday, August 10, 2015

Off Roading in Mount Elgon National Park

This weekend I visited Mount Elgon with my friend Dainel. We pack up our camping equipment in his 4 wheel drive and headed off to this beautiful Kenyan National Park in Western Kenya. 

View from inside the caves

A bit about Mount Elgon National Park. It's over 1000 square kilometers and is shared by both Uganda and Kenya. The park boasts the second highest mountain in Kenya at 14,177 ft (4,321 meters) and is home to antelope, black-and-white colobus, blue monkeys, zebras and the famous salt mining elephants. 

View from our campsite

The first day in the park Daniel and I headed to the caves where elephants walk up to 200 meters in the dark bat infested caves to mine salt. Of course Daniel and I outfitted with our head torch walked deep into Kitum Cave, the largest and most famous of the caves. I was a little nervous of the thousands of bats flying over my head, but you only live once. We headed deep into the cave looking for the salty elephants. Although no elephants were in the cave, we did find where they use their tusks to dig out the salt. I wonder what food they are flavoring with all that salt, I guess I will never find out since I did not bump into any elephants to ask.

Next Daniel and I scoped out a camping place, of course we were told to parking in the designated camping spots, but who follows rules anyways, and in Kenya they never check. We drove our 4 wheel drive up the steep muddy roads to the Endless Bluff. This 2563 m (8408 ft) boasts spectacular views of the surrounding valley, and the views really are endless. We popped out the tent on the roof of the truck, cooked our dinner on the small gas stove, sat by a small fire and turned in for a good night sleep. We woke to a spectacular view and a wonderful breakfast of french toast. 
That mountain in the back, that's Mt Elgon, I was at the top. 

Saturday morning we woke up early and headed off to climb Mount Kenya. Of course instead of taking the normal path straight up the valley we decided to follow animal tracks and our human compass skills taking the long way around the edge of the valley and up Mount Elgon. I was exhausted but very happy when I saw the sign Koitobos peak at 4,222 meters. 

At Koitoboss Peak
After a quick snack we headed back down the valley to our car. It was beautiful hiking along the crystal clear river running through the green valley covered in a colorful array of wildflowers. It was also great stepping not once but twice into hidden holes filled with muddy water. I arrived back at the truck with both my legs covered in mud, wet up to my knees, go figure. 

As we headed back to the main campsite it began to rain, which Daniel got excited about because he wanted to return home with a muddy car. We started a fire in a small banda and hug all our wet close to dry (ie my pants, socks and shoes). We made dinner and again got cozy in our pop-out rooftop tent. 

The next day we awoke to the view of a group of Defassa waterbuck and zebras grazing outside our tent. We sat eating eggs and potatos (that Daniel grew on his farm, I know he would get mad if I did not include that) as we watched the grazing animals (more like they watched us the whole time). We packed up and took a drive around the last remaining roads we had yet to travel looking for other wildlife. 

Overall Mount Elgon is definitely worth the trip, it was beautiful, not very touristy, actually we saw no one the whole time, and full of amazing views and interesting wildlife. I am looking forward to visiting again. 

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome daughter I have ... doing all the things I wish I could still do!