THE Aberdare National Park is home to the Aberdare Mountain Ranges that stretch high above the plains forming of peaks of 13,000 feet above sea level and dip into deep, V shaped valleys covered by lush vegatation with streams and rivers cascading over spectacular waterfalls, including Kenya's longest drop of approximately 1,000 feet. Aberdare is located in the central highlands, west of Mount Kenya, Nyeri District in Central Province and has an darea of 766km2.
The Aberdare Mountains are one of the homes of ‘Ngai’ which mean God in the Gikuyu Language are located in the heart of the Kikuyu highlands area in central Kenya. To the east of the ranges are the fertile farming lands of the Kikuyu, which were settled by the colonists in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area between the Aberdares and Mount Kenya is part of what became known as the European highlands. To the west, the range falls steeply away into the Rift Valley and offers superb views of Lake Naivasha and the distant Mau Escarpment.
There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999m) and Kinangop (3,906m) separated by a long saddle of alpine moorland at over 3,000m. The landscape is varied with deep ravines that cut through the forested eastern and western slopes and there are many clear streams and waterfalls. The Aberdares are an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers and part of Central Rift and Northern drainage basins.
The National Park lies mainly above the tree line running along the 10,000ft contour with some forest and scrub at lower altitude in the 'salient' area near Nyeri with the boundary running down to the 7000ft contour. At 10,000 feet above sea level, the bamboo forest comes to an end giving way to rolling moorlands, where crystal clear streams stocked with abundant trout, while a variety of lobelia, groundsel and heather cover much of the ground. The eland, lion, elephant and buffalo may be found here, in addition to the numerous birds, such as the Jackson's francolin, sparrow hawk, African goshawk, sunbirds and plovers.
The moorland area offers an extremely good scenery and with an excellent opportunity for high altitude hiking and fly-fishing, which is encouraged as the trout is not an indigenous species.The area is also famous as the 1950s headquarters of the Mau Mau Rebellion, with 'General' Kimathi's hideout still a much-visited attraction. Princess Elizabeth became Queen of the United Kingdom while staying at the now famous Treetops Lodge.A very different landscape from the wide, open plains of the African savanna, the Aberdares have been described as 'Scotland with lions' and is a well worth a stop on any tour of Kenya.
The unusual vegetation, rugged terrain, streams and waterfalls combine to create an area of great scenic beauty in the National Park. The Aberdare Mountain ranges are made up of three main eco-systems: the forest, which gives way to dense bamboo forests, which in turn gives way to moorland as the altitude rises. The forest is home to a multitude of elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog and the endangered black rhino. The Aberdares are an excellent area for spotting the elusive leopard and occasional sightings have been made of the Golden cat. Black and white Columbus monkeys and Sykes monkeys are easily seen swinging acrobatically from one tree to the next, as are waterbuck, bushbuck, reedbuck, duikers, and serval cats. Melanistic cats appear to be quite common in the high altitudes of the Aberdares while the black serval cats are also spotted fairly often.
The forest of the Aberdares is host to leopard, elephant, rhino and other game animals, birds and reptiles.In the forest the best viewing areas is in the Salient Park, while both Treetops and The Ark lodges provide splendid nighttime viewing in the slightly less dense forest. It is possible to spot the elusive Bongo antelope and the giant forest hog as you rise higher in altitude through the bamboo belt. Keep an eye out for the superb crowned eagle as it hunts for one of its favorite dish, a Columbus monkey and bird viewing is superb.
How do I get THE Aberdare National Park
Aberdare By Road
By road the park is readily accessible on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side (160 kms from Nairobi). A road crosses the park to connect with another from Naivasha and North Kinangop on the west.
Aberdare National Park Airstrips
There are two airstrips in the park Mweiga Airstrip, next to the park headquarters or Nyeri Airstrip which is 12 km from Mweiga headquarters.
The main towns from which the park can be approached are Nyeri (154 km from Nairobi) Nyahururu (188 km from Nairobi) and Naivasha (87 km from Nairobi).There are various gates other that one can get entry in the park depending on the direction one is coming from. From Nyeri - Ruhuruini gate 20 km, Kiandongoro gate 30 km, Treetops gate 17 km, Ark gate 28 km, Wandare gate 47 km. From Nyahururu - Rhino gate 48 km, Shamata gate 45 km, Naivasha, Mutubio gate 50 km.
Major attraction to view on Aberdare National Park Safari
Major attractions in this park are Lesatima peak, Kinangop peak, waterfalls, walks in the moorlands, Twin hills, Elephant hills and Table Mountains, Elephants, Second largest population of black rhinos in Salient and Northern Aberdares, Queen Elizabeth learned of her accession to the throne at Tree-tops, The Kimathi Hideout, and Night viewing of wildlife at the Ark & Treetops.
Accommodation in Aberdare National Park.
There also plenty and diverse facilities for accommodation in Aberdare National Park.
Bandas in the Aberdare National park
- Fishing Lodge
- Ruhuruini (Tusk Camp)
- Sapper Hut
- KWS Hut at Treetops
- KWS HQ bungalow.
Lodges and Hotels in the Aberdare National Park
Mist and rain occur throughout much of the year, with precipitation varying from around 1000mm yearly on the north western slopes to as much as 3000mm in the south east. Heavy rainfall occurs through most of the year.