The Aberdare volcanic mountain ranges cover much of the central province of Kenya that stretches from North of Nairobi and into the east. There are two major peaks on the Aberdares; Ol Donyo Lesatima at 3,999 m and Kinangop at 3,906 m divided using a huge saddle of Alpine moorland within 3,000 metres. The among the Kikuyu people are very sacred and are traditionally believed to be the home of their god also called Ngai.Aberdare mountain ranges. Aberdare National Park covers the higher part of the ranges at 2100m to 4100m above sea level, shaped by deep valleys, water streams, rivers, Thompson falls, and dense rain forests. The park is managed by the Kenya Wildlife service is one of the most visited Kenya national parks and game reserves.
Wildlife in Aberdare National Park
The Park hosts the vast majority of big game, such as lion, leopards, large tusked African elephant, giant forest hog, bush buck, black rhino, giraffe, buffalo, stripped jackals, duikers, water buck, suni antelopes, eland, crocodiles and others. The dense rainforest is a habitat for several primates like sykes, olive baboons, and colobus monkeys among others. Some of the endangered but rare species include golden cat, the elusive Bongo antelope, serval cats, wild dogs and many others.
On a walking Kenya safari within the park, be sure to see over 250 species of different birds like sparry hawks, eagles, sunbirds, plovers, Aberdare cisticola, goshawks, decken’s hornbill, peacock among many others.
Other places worth visiting include the elephant hill, marked with several trails of the African elephant, the Twin hills, Table Mountains and the beautiful Thomson falls
Aberdare hotels and Access
The Park is accessible on tarmac from Nyeri and even Naro Moru on the eastern side 160 km away from Nairobi. A track passes across the park to connect with another from Naivasha and North Kinangop from the west. Mweiga Airstrip is close to the park headquarters or Nyeri Airstrip is actually 12 km from Mweiga headquarters.
There about 5 access gates on the park; Ark gates, Treetops gate, Ruhuruni gate, Kiandagoro gate, Mutubio and Shamata. Only guided safari walks and game drives are permitted within the park. Entrance is from 6h00 to 18h00 after paying a nominal fee on which you get park tickets.
The nearest towns from where the parks are Nyeri, Nyahururu and even Naivasha. Mweiga and Nyeri have a few options for overnight and accommodation such as thatched chalets, basic campsites and some luxury lodges.
Treetops Safari lodge is located up the mountains near the water holes and salt lick with iconic view of Mt Kenya and the elephant route below. Breakfast is served before sights of elephants, rhinos, buffalos and birds in the trees. The lodge is established on a decked platform with legendary royal visits by the maiden Queen Elizabeth in 1932, before she assumed the English throne. Other lodges in the park include Fishing lodge, Tusk Camp Banda, The ark hotel and the well furnished Aberdare Country Club.
There are also public camping sites from reedbuck, Ruhuruini, wandare, Shamata and others. Many of these are under private management with self catering accommodation and you’re required to pay some nominal fee before entrance.
The Aberdares from Central Kenya province are part of the most fertile lands that were chosen by the European explorers for tea, wheat, coffee and sugar plantations in Kenya. Aberdare Kenya safaris include visits to some of the large acre farms, to Aberdare national park, thick rainforest and to the foot slopes of the mountains.
ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
The Aberdare National Park was created in 1950 to protect the forested slopes and moors of the Aberdare Mountains. Despite the fact that the Park has elephant, lion, rhino, black
leopard, monkeys and the beautiful but elusive bongo antelope it attracts only a small number of visitors. Large tusked elephants are a common sight around water holes and salt licks.
Nocturnal game drives are quite fruitful and will include sights of the shy leopards, laughing hyenas, lions and many other nocturnal predators. Game viewing is generally good from January to March with hot dry weather.
Birds are seen here all through the year with more spectacular views during the rainy season that comes around April to December. In part this is due to the area’s high rainfall that turns the roads to mudslides – you need a 4×4 to get anywhere. Additionally the dense forest makes game viewing tricky.
Aberdare ranges and mountains
The Aberdares are often the 3rd peak range of mountain tops located in Kenya, reaching a peak of just over 4000m. This particular enormous mountain range is popular to its lustrous prominent forest jungles, and for their plentiful game. High altitude forests are broken by moorlands and plains, and with the considerable tree cover you can find sensational views on the Rift Valley along with the peak of Mt Kenya.
From the high eater ways flowing from Mt Kenya is Thomson Falls, one of the tallest plunging about 250 m into a deep gorge below. Beautiful full views of the falls are made in April and May long rains.
Where to stay
Lastly, other than campsites with minimal facilities, the only accommodation is at The Ark Aberdare National Park and at Treetops Lodge. Both Treetops and The Ark are built above the ground beside floodlit waterholes with salt licks. Visitors must book in advance and cannot make their own way to the lodges in private vehicles. The Ark, however, offers better game viewing, especially at night.
Instead check-in is at the Aberdare Country club for The Ark and the Outspan Hotel for Treetops and they bus you to the lodge. Aberdare Treetops Hotel is one of Kenya’s most famous hotels as this is where British Princess Elizabeth was informed that she was now Queen in 1952 when her father died.
Other Aberdare safari lodges and accommodation is found at Serena Mountain lodge located near Mt Kenya forests.
The Aberdare can be an remote volcanic range that covers the eastern wall on the rift valley, going about 100 km north-south within Nairobi and Thomson’s Falls. There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999 metres) and Kinangop (3,906 metres) lost between a long saddle of Alpine moorland within 3,000 metres. The topography is distinct with deep ravines that cut via the forested eastern and also western slopes. There are lots of clear water ways and falls. The Aberdares are an essential water catchment area providing water into the Tana and Athi rivers and a part of Central Rift and Northern waterflow and drainage basins.
The National Park lies mostly over the tree line going over the 10,000 ft (3,048 metres) contour with forest and shrubs upon the lowered altitude within the ‘salient’ area close to Nyeri. The uncommon vegetation, rugged terrain, streams and even waterfalls blend to make an area of excellent scenic beauty within the National Park. Lesatima Peak, Kinangop Peak, waterfalls, walks in the moorlands, Twin Hills, Elephant Hills and Table Mountains.
The park is home to several of the bigger mammals, using a large herd of black rhino. The park holds extincted species for example the uncommon bongo, giant forest hog, herds of the currently very rare wild dogs and endemic mole-rat and mole shrew. Other game comprises of leopard, serval, endemic bird species, reptiles and also insects.
The park is quickly available on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern area 160 km out of Nairobi. A track meanders through the park linking with another from Naivasha and even North Kinangop from the west. The key towns where the park might be reached are Nyeri, Nyahururu and even Naivasha. Mweiga Airstrip is beside the park head office or Nyeri Airstrip happens to be 12 km away from the Mweiga head office.
Mweiga and Nyeri both have a range of accommodation to fit all budgets, from basic campsites to classy lodges. Around the Aberdares, you will find 2 comfort and leisure Forest Lodges, built around waterholes as well as saltlicks. In addition there are campsites as well as huts for trekkers. They are separately managed and room must be reserved and paid for upfront. While on an organized trek or hike, hut accommodation or tenting is generally included.