The mountain is named after the Elgeyo tribe, who once lived in huge caves on the south side of the mountain.
It was known as "Ol Doinyo Ilgoon" (Breast Mountain) by the Maasai and as "Masaba" on the Ugandan side.
Mt. Elgon consists of five major peaks:
- Wagagai (4,321m), being in Uganda.
- Sudek (4,302m or 14,140;ft) in Kenya
- Koitobos (4,222m or 13,248;ft), a flat topped basalt column (Kenya)
- Mubiyi (4,211m or 13,816;ft)
- Masaba (4,161m or 13,650;ft)
Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its vast form, eighty kilometers in diameter, rises 3070m above the surrounding plains, providing welcome relief in more than one sense of the word. Its mountainous terrain introduces variety to an otherwise monotonous regional landscape. Its cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.
Mount Elgon is home to three tribes, the Bagisu, the Sabiny and the Ogiek, better known in the region under the derogatory umbrella term Ndorobo. The Bagisu and Sabiny are subsistence farmers and conduct circumcision ceremonies every other year to initiate young men (and in the Sabiny's case, girls) into adulthood. Traditionally, the Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba, and you may hear the mountain called by this name. Local people have long depended on forest produce and have made agreements with the park to continue to harvest resources such as bamboo poles and bamboo shoots (a local delicacy). The Ogiek used to be hunters and honey gatherers, but have become more sedentary in recent decades, and have partially been moved downward by the government.