Aberdare National Park is rested at the cliff of the Aberdare Mountain range and was created to protect the slopes and moorland of the mountain. It covers 767 sq km with an altitude of 1829M to 4001M above sea level hosting the spectacular peaks of Kinangop (3906m/12814 feet) and Ol Donyo Lesatima (3999m/13123 feet).
Aberdare Park is divided into two eco-systems. The Salient is an environment of rainforest and hills bedecked with high waterfalls. The mountains here range in elevation from 2,000 m (6,600 ft) to 4,000 m (13,000 ft). The Kinangop Plateau is a plain of rugged and windswept moors. Here you’ll find hills, bogs, and cold, crystal mountain streams. The mists over the moors create a dark, weathered beauty.
The park is as well-known for its 300m-high waterfalls, rugged and mountainous terrain, misty tropical forests, bamboo forests, moorland, and rich trekking as for its wealth of wildlife. Aberdare is home to the second-largest herd of Black Rhinos in Kenya. And sightings are common of Spotted Hyenas, Bush Pigs, Waterbuck, Jackal, eland, and on occasion the Elusive Black Leopard.
The park’s cool, misty environment is a habitat of an array of birdlife warbling through its forests – over 290 species, including the endangered Aberdare cisticola, raptors such as Buzzards, Hawks, and the African crown eagle. Butterflies are especially plentiful in the two major environments of the park – the forests and the moorlands.
Things to do and see at Aberdare National Park.
Walking Safaris and Hiking
The beautiful forests and moorlands, cool climate, sparkling streams, and abundant wildlife make Aberdare ideal for nature walks and hiking expeditions. Aberdare mountain ranges form part of this National Park thus making it a hiker’s paradise with mountainous and hilly landscapes great for hiking, one can hike to the Table mountains, twin or elephant hills, or across the majestic waterfalls and get fantastic beautiful sceneries while you encounter with wildlife.
Game Safaris (Day & Night Game drives)
Explore this amazing Aberdare National Park with cool temperatures on Game drives both during day or night and get to encounter its diverse wildlife species like the big 5 animals, and several wild cats including the unique rare species. Game drives can be done in three sessions, in the Morning at 6:30 am to 10:30 am this is the best time to see animals actively looking for food and some going back from their hideout, Evening game drive is at 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time to see animals under the tree resting, a huge number of species can be seen on water banks linking for water and Night game which starts at 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm best time to see nocturnal animals like Bush babies, Leopards, and Lions.
Explore the Waterfalls
The park hosts a serious collection of renowned waterfalls. The waters of Gura waterfall plunge 300 m (984 ft) – the steepest fall in Kenya. Other spectacular falls are Karura, Chania, and Maraqua Falls. a visit to Karuru and Chaina waterfalls will give you an exciting yet adventurous experience along with intimate nature walks in the moorlands while you admire the beauty of stunning Lesatima and Kinangop peaks at their glimpse.
Experience Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is located at the amazing snow-capped Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Ranges foothills. It features a superb variety of wildlife, including the Big 5 (Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant, and the endangered Rhino) and the non-indigenous chimpanzees.
The stunning views and combination of amazing animals across the open lands of Ol Pejeta guarantee a memorable safari experience. At the conservancy, you may visit the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and get to visit the blind Rhino known as Baraka and the last two of the northern white rhinos. The reserve is home to 2 endangered northern White Rhinos, 73 endangered Black rhinos, 0ver 40 Chimpanzees, Lions, Elephants, Buffalos, and Leopards. You will also find Giraffe, Grevy Zebra, Ostrich, Cheetah, Thomson’s Gazelle, Grant’s Gazelle, Oryx, Black-Back Jackals, Waterbuck, Baboons, eland, and several dozen bird species.
Visit Sweetwaters Game Reserve
Traveler can still engage in chimpanzee trekking at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki which take a 1 to 2 hours drive to reach there. This activity can be done in the morning or afternoon time as you learn more about the Chimpanzees and their way of life which includes grooming, playing, feeding, nesting, and de-nesting among others.
This can be done on various rivers like the icy cold guru, Karuru, or Chaina flowing rivers just below the waterfalls in the moorland and other numerous fishing spots in the park which have unique features including more waterfalls, you can also do cave fishing as well as get to see lots of wildlife. The park is known for its bountiful stock of brown and rainbow trout.
The park has records of five of the eight species of this Endemic Bird Area and 53 of the seventy bird species of the Afrotropical Highlands biome that occur in Kenya. The forests and moorlands of Aberdare NP are a birder’s paradise – more than 290 species recorded. There are 3 birding regions with the Aberdare national park and these include the Kikuyi escarpment forest that lies on the southern side of the Aberdare Forest, the Mukurweini valley that lies in the southeast of the Aberdares that gives you a clear view of the hinders babbler and the Kinangop Grasslands that are located Aberdare that is where you can best view the sharper long claw as one of Kenya’s national endemics. Look out for the striking Hartlaub’s turaco, Near Endemics like the Jackson’s Francolin, and Sharpe’s Longclaw, Aberdare cisticola that is endemic to the region and found at higher altitudes, the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird which can be found on the mountain peaks. Forest bird species that inhabit the park include Sunbirds, Goshawks, Fish eagles, and the Aberdare cisticola among the rest.
Climbing Mt. Satima via Dragons Teeth and Mount Kinangop.
This scenic hike towards the highest summit in Aberdare National Park starts 12km beyond the Rhino gate. During the drive up, it is possible to spot Zebra, Waterbucks, Warthogs, and other wildlife. The hike towards Satima summit at 4000m altitude takes 3 to 4 hours. The first two kilometers (1,3 miles) are through scrubland, after which the trail emerges on the moorland, which is protruded with imposing rock formations and is dotted with the Lobelia Keniensis, native to the alpine zones of Kenya. The most imposing rock formation is colloquially known as ‘Dragon’s teeth and is reached after 5 kilometers (3 miles). The trail runs through this rock formation, after which it is another 2 miles to the summit. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Mount Kenya from the summit. The descent back down is faster at around 2 hours. It is possible to continue hiking beyond Mount Satima, in a traverse across the Aberdares, if pick-up and/or overnight camping has been arranged.
On a clear day, you can see nearby Elephant Hill, and possibly as far as Mt. Longonot and Lake Naivasha. Like most other trails in the Aberdares, the trail ascends through the various vegetation zones, including forest, bamboo, montane humid forest, and the moorland zone of the Aberdares plateau. The trail starts at the North Kinangop Forest Station at Mutarakwa. From here, the first 2 km (1.3 miles) run through relatively flat forest and farmland, before one enters the protected forest through a gate on your right-hand side. The next 6km (3.5 mile) ascends up the central Aberdares ridge, through the various vegetation zones. This part of the trail can be muddy (especially after rains) and is also the habitat of occasional buffalos and elephants, whose footprints or droppings may be encountered along the trail. In parts, the trail can be a bit overgrown, but there are trailblazers to guide your way. Once on the Aberdare ridge, the trail turns South for another 6km (3.5 miles), ascending gently towards Kinangop Peak. The final ascent of the peak is steep and can be done through the grassy western approach, or the rocky southern approach. It is possible to traverse onwards to Elephant Hill.
Horseback riding can be carried out by the guide to Savannah grassland and end up with a perfect adventure, especially for nature lovers. Horseback riding is done at the Aberdare foothills and there is still plenty of wildlife to encounter, including zebra, impala, warthog, and giraffes. It is often possible to get a little closer to some of the animals on horseback compared to on foot.
Experience the Sundowner
This is an absolutely interesting time for a visitor to enjoy your cocktail in the wilderness while getting attracted to panoramic views of the Aberdare Ranges, Mount Kenya, and the stunning hills around. Thus, having a perfect time on an African safari while taking in the red and orange colors hue as the sun sets over the varied landscapes.
Bush breakfast experience
Bush culinary experience with the advantage of the vast game sanctuary full of animals, the bush breakfast/ lunch/dinner is a must for those seeking a more personal experience with nature. Get in touch with nature while having meals.
Golfing in Aberdare – Gold experience
Interested in Golfing, it is worthwhile golfing within the Game Sanctuary. It is a 9-hole Golf course and you can enjoy the activity while getting attracted to wildlife species that wander on the course looking for food.
Community-Based / Cultural Tours in Aberdare Park.
Visit the Kikuyu People.
The local community nearest to the park is the Kikuyu people who believe that these ranges are among the homes of their god (Ngai). These natives initially named this area Nyandarua (to mean drying hide) because of the numerous distinctive folds here. Learn more about their unique and authentic culture and their way of life. Watch out for the Kikuyu dancers performing during your community visit.
Where to stay in Aberdare National Park
The accommodations in Aberdare are as special as the park. They are both located near frequently visited watering holes and are excellent vantage points to view animals as they come to drink.
As its name signifies, the lodge has been designed in the shape of Noah’s ark located in the heart of the Aberdare National Park overlooking a floodlit waterhole and salt lick, which attracts a host of awesome wildlife. The Ark comprises of three decks from which numerous balconies and lounges provide a superb location for wildlife to be seen. It’s comprising 60 deluxe “cabin-style” rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom. There are 6 singles, 37 twin-bed rooms, 8 double/queen bedrooms, and 9 triple-bed or family rooms. Other facilities include a restaurant and bar, a gift shop, a library, and a terrace.
Aberdare Country Club
The Aberdare Country Club is situated within a 1,300-acre wildlife sanctuary in Mweiga, in the Central Region. The sanctuary is inhabited by impalas, zebras, giraffes, and the more reclusive leopards. The rooms at The Aberdare Country Club are in the form of cottages and one standard suite. These include 19 Two bedroom cottages, 01 Three Bedroomed Cottage, 01 Five Bedroomed Cottage, and 01 Standard suite. The ensuite cottages and suites each have a seating area and a fireplace and are equipped with a bath or a shower. The club’s 1,300-acre wildlife sanctuary is teeming with Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, zebras, giraffes, and the more reclusive leopards. It is a haven of unhurried charm set in a garden bursting with a profusion of color and with peacocks living within the lush green lawns.
Other facilities include barbecue facilities and views of the garden, the restaurant and bar, an outdoor swimming pool, gardens, a gift shop, a fitness center, a spa and sauna lounge, and conference facilities,
How to Get to Aberdare Park
Aberdare National Park is located 160km north of Nairobi and 20km southwest of Nanyuki. The drive from Nairobi takes about 2½ to 3 hours accessible on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the Eastern side.
Travelers can reach Aberdare national park by Air transport by flying to Mweiga Airstrip which is the closest airstrip to the park. Mweiga airstrip is 35 mins from Nairobi and located on the opposite side of the park quarter close to Sasin Estate Farm along Nyeru town to Nyahururu road.
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