Book Flights to Kitale

Kitale – Kenya

Kitale is a mainly agricultural town located only 30km from the Mount Elgon National Park gate. It is an excellent hiking destination, one where you are most likely to have the mountain almost exclusively to yourself. It is often referred to as the basket of Kenya due to its role in the food production of Kenya.

It has a population of around 120 000, and lies high up at an altitude of 1900 meters. Kitale is a quiet town with basic comforts and amenities.

Kitale is the perfect place to start a trip to the Kenyan summit of Mt Elgon, a spot to purchase any last minute supplies or top op on fresh produce. It is also the last place to get money out if needed as there are no facilities in the Mount Elgon National Park.

Mount Elgon is Kenya’s second highest mountain, and also has many interesting caves to explore. The lower slopes are covered in huge trees before bamboo takes over. But near the summit the real gems take over like the giant heather plants, the everlasting flowers, the giant lobelias, and groundsel all typical of the African Alpine moorlands.

Use Tripindigo to get you to the start of your hike to the top of Mount Elgon and book your cheap flight to Kitale today.

Why visit Kitale?

  • Use Kitale as the gateway to go hiking in Mount Elgon National Park
  • Visit the National Museum of Western Kenya
  • Explore the impressive lava tube caves in Mount Elgon National Park
  • Spot the Sitatunga (a semi-aquatic antelope) in Saiwa Swamp National Park
  • Time zone: UTC / GMT +3
  • Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KSh, often written as =/)
  • Driving: left-hand side of the road
  • Power Outlets: 220V-240V 50Hz. Plug types are ‘Type D & G (British)’
  • Closest airport: Kitale Airport (KTL)
  • Local Tribes: the original tribe in the area was the Sabaot, a sub-tribe from the Kalenjin people (also known as the running tribe). Nowadays there is a mix of tribes living in Kitale, including Pokot, Nandi (both also sub-tribes from the Kalenjin), Luhya and Kikuyu people.
Best time to visit

As your main reason for visiting Kitale will most likely be a trip to Mount Elgon National Park, it is good to note there are two dry seasons in the Mount Elgon area. It is best to hike in these dry periods, although it can rain at any time. The first dry period is from December until March and the second one is in June and July.

Sights and sounds

From Kitale, it is about one hour drive on a dirt road to Chorlim Gate at the entry to Mount Elgon National Park. It is quite obvious where the national park starts as that is where you will find the forest. It is possible to walk to Koitoboss peak or you can drive all the way to the aptly named Road End where camp can be set up before starting an early-morning walk to the top. Hiking all the way to the top does have the advantage of acclimatisation to the altitude, something that should be considered.

From Road End, the landscape changes into the African Alpine moorland, a spectacular sight with giant lobelias and groundsels along everlasting flowers and heather in amongst the rocky outcrops. It can be quite cold here, so make sure you come prepared. Everything you need will have to be brought in and any rubbish must be taken out as there are no facilities. Allow at least 3-4 days to be able to enjoy the amazing scenery and acclimatise properly.

Mount Elgon NP also has several lava tube caves open to the public. Elephants might be seen scraping their tusks along the walls inside the caves for salt, although it is more likely you will see the grooves made by their tusks along the walls deep inside the caves. No mean feat if you see what they have to climb over to get there. Other large animals also visit the caves for their salt and they also house many bats, evident from the layers of bat poo around.

The Saiwa Swamp, only about 25km from Kitale, is easily explored on foot. The small national park has a walking trail with various wooden viewing platforms overlooking the swamp. The main reason to visit is a chance to spot the rare sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope.

Use Tripindigo to book a trip to Kitale to start your hike to the top of Kenya’s second highest mountain.

Dining and Dietary Considerations

Kitale gives you the opportunity to eat real Kenyan food, like Kenya’s staple Ugali (maize porridge), mostly eaten with vegetables and beans, sometimes with meat. Despite the fact that it is known as the basket of Kenya, Kitale is limited in its range of restaurants, but some hotels and guest houses offer food.

Religious and Cultural considerations

The majority of people in Kitale are Christian, but Muslims and Hindus can also be found as well as other religions and traditional beliefs. The Sabaot people used to believe their god lived in elevated places where they couldn’t reach like, but many have converted to Christianity now.

When photographing people, always ask permission first and agree on payment if required.

Cost of Living

Kitale has limited options for accommodation.

This is what you can expect to pay in Kenya for:

  • Domestic beer (0.5-litre bottle) in a supermarket – 175KSh
  • Imported beer in a supermarket (0.33-litre bottle) – 223KSh
  • Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) – 200Ksh
  • A bottle of coca cola / pepsi (0.33-litre bottle) – 52KSh
  • A small bottle of water (0.33-litre bottle) – 44KSh


  • The elephants in the Mount Elgon NP regularly visit the lava tube caves to access the salt on the walls. They climb over rock slabs and cover a lot of uneven ground without any light available to them as even during the day sections of the cave are completely in darkness.
  • The highest peak of Mount Elgon is located in Uganda, most people in Kenya hike to Koitoboss Peak with an altitude of 4,222m / 13,852 feet. The highest peak in Uganda is Wagagai at 4,321m / 14,177 feet.
  • The Saiwa Swamp is Kenya’s smallest national park at only 3km2.
  • Kitale is also an interesting starting point for some excellent hiking in the lesser known Cherangani Hills, for example, a 5-day trek from Kabichbich to Chesengoch or shorter hikes in the northern section of the Cherangani Hills.

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