Ngwarisha, Makingeny, Chepnyalil, and Kitum caves: Kitum Cave is over 60 m wide and penetrates 200 m. 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 which drains into Lake Turkana, the Nzoia River and the Lwakhakha River which flow to Lake Victoria. The town of Kitale is in the foothills of the mountain. The area around the mountain is protected by two Mount Elgon National Parks, one on each side of the international border.
In 1896, C. W. Hobley became the first European to circumnavigate the mountain. Kmunke and Stigler made the first recorded ascent of Wagagai and Koitobos in 1911. F. Jackson, E. Gedge, and J. Martin made the first recorded ascent of Sudek in 1890. The main peak is an easy scramble and does not require any special mountaineering skills.