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Aberdare National Park

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Aberdare National Park is an attractive national park situated in the Aberdare Mountain ranges in central Kenya, within the East African rift valley region. Established in 1950, Aberdare National Park covers a total surface area of 766 square kilometers and is managed by the Kenya Wildlife Services. The park forms a portion of the Aberdare Mountain Range and it rises at altitudes ranging from 2,000m (6,600 ft) to 4,000m (13,000 ft) above sea level. The Park’s incredible landscape features two eco-systems; the salient is made up of rainforest, moorland, and bamboo on the lower slopes. The mountain range, on the other hand, consists of profound V-shaped valleys traversed by rivers, streams, and waterfalls.

Aberdare National Park is known as one of Kenya’s best safari destinations. Besides its breathtaking 300m-high waterfalls, foggy tropical rainforests, and steep topography, the park boasts an abundance of wildlife. A hike through the park will move you from rainforest to bamboo groves and high alpine plants with rewarding vistas of buffaloes, baboons, monkeys, elephants, and antelopes that emerge from the deep jungle along the way. Aberdare National Park is home to over 2,000 elephants that roam its wonderful landscape and several very uncommon animals such as the bongo, a huge antelope that lives in the park’s bamboo forest.

Aberdare is home to Kenya’s second-largest black rhino herd. Sightings of spotted hyenas, African golden cats, bush pigs, jackals, waterbucks, elands, and the elusive black leopard are common too. Even the lion is present in Aberdare, though it is rarely spotted. Furthermore, Aberdare National Park is a top birders’ paradise: the park’s misty jungle harbors a plethora of bird species of over 290 recorded species – including the endangered Aberdare Cisticola. The park is also home to a variety of raptors and migratory bird species.

Best Time to Visit Aberdare National Park

Generally, Aberdare National Park offers spectacular game viewing throughout the year. However, since the park lies in a mountainous landscape, rains are expected at any time. Nonetheless, the best time to go on a Kenya safari in the park is during the dry season from January to February and June to September. These months are the ideal months for game viewing and hiking. The wet season in Aberdare National Park occurs from March to May and October to November and these are good times for bird-watching.

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Top Attractions in Aberdare National Park

Aberdare Mountain Ranges

The Aberdare Ranges are the most famous tourist attraction in Aberdare National Park. They are a 160-kilometer-long solitary volcanic range that forms the easternmost border of the Great East African Rift Valley. The Aberdare Mountain ranges make it one of the top places in Kenya for hiking tours. The Aberdare ranges stand at a maximum elevation of about 4000 meters above sea level and they include Amount Santima which is the range’s highest peak, Mount Kinangop – the second highest peak (3,906 meters) which lies on the range’s southern end, Chebuswa range (3364 meters), Table Mountain (3791 meters), Martini Hill (3698 meters), and lastly Elephant at 3590 meters.

Besides thriving with several animals, monkeys, and birds, the Aberdare Mountain ranges are also significant to the native Kikuyu people. The Kikuyu refer to the Aberdares as “Nyandarua” which means drying fleece given their distinctive shapes: for instance, the ranges on the west of the Aberdares slide steeply into the Kinangop plateau, whereas those on the eastern slopes are gently sloping.     

Wildlife

Aberdare National Park provides a natural cradle to a variety of wildlife species which include Elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, black rhinos, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, bushbucks, and waterbucks, among others. There have been rare sightings of species such as the Giant Forest Hog, blue duiker, African golden cat, African wild cat, bongo, serval cat, African civet cat, and lions, to mention but a few. Aberdare is known for having a high population of rhinos, making it an incredible Kenyan national park: the park boasts the second-largest rhino population in Kenya.

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Birds

Aberdare National Park is a great birder’s paradise and a wonderful Kenya birding safari destination boasting over 250 recorded bird species including the distinctive Hartlaub’s turaco and the mysterious Aberdare cisticola, which is endemic to the region. Other bird species that can be spotted in Aberdare National Park include the Abyssinian Crimsonwing, rare Scarlet-tufted Malachite sunbird, African goshawk, Bronzy sun-bird, Augur buzzard, Bar-tailed trogon, African yellow warbler, African green pigeon, African paradise flycatcher, Ayres’s hawk-eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, and Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, among many others.

Waterfalls

Aberdare National Park’s waterfalls are also another fantastic attraction to explore while visiting the park on a safari. The park features various waterfalls including Karuru Falls, which is the site of many unique mature wonders. The waterfall is the largest and tallest in Kenya, a breathtaking spectacle that plunges over 300 meters below the viewing point. The waterfall is surrounded by magnificent flora and scenery. Other waterfalls in the park include Chain waterfalls, Thomson’s waterfall/Nyahururu waterfalls, Kereita cave and waterfall, Queens cave, and Magura waterfalls, to mention but a few.

The Kikuyu People

The Kikuyu people, who are found around Aberdare National Park believe that the Aberdare ranges are one of the residences of Ngai, their god. The inhabitants named this place Nyandarua, which means “drying hide,” because of the myriad different folds seen here. The Kikuyu are a fascinating ethnic group of people who display a unique and authentic culture when visited on a cultural encounter in the park.

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Top Safari Activities to do in Aberdare National Park

Game Drives

Explore this wonderful Aberdare National Park with impressive game viewing on Game drives both during the day and night in the comfort of a 4×4 safari vehicle. Game drives in Aberdare National Park allow tourists to encounter its different wildlife species including the big 5 animals, many wild cats unique uncommon species, and more nocturnal sightings that can be nice on a night game drive.

Birding

Aberdare National Area is home to around 250 bird species, which may be seen when on safari in the park. Birders to Aberdare should expect to see bird species such as Sunbirds, Jackson’s francolin, mountain buzzards, Goshawks, Rufous-breasted sparrow hawks, Fish eagles, and ayre’s hawk, among others. Birding in Aberdare National Park is good all year and migrating birds are present from November to April.

Hiking

Hiking is the most thrilling safari experience in Aberdare National Park. The Aberdare Mountain ranges are part of this National Park, making it a hiker’s paradise with rugged and hilly landscapes ideal for trekking. Hiking to the table mountains, twin or elephant hills, or over the stunning waterfalls provides amazing gorgeous scenery while encountering animals.

 

Visit Sweetwaters Game Reserve.

The Sweetwaters Game Reserve is situated near the foothills of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Ranges. It is home to a diverse range of animals, including the Big 5 (Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant, and the critically endangered Black Rhino) and non-indigenous chimps. The breathtaking vistas and diverse wildlife populations over the vast fields of Ol Pejeta provide a unique safari experience. The Chimpanzee Sanctuary is one of the Sweetwaters’ most popular attractions. Morani, a famous tamed Rhino, is another attraction.

Fishing

For tourists who are fans of fishing, Aberdare National Park is one of the best destinations in Kenya to enjoy fishing excursions. Travelers in the Aberdares fish in the high moorlands’ streams and rivers. Tourists may go trout fishing along the Chania River or any other river inside the park.

Visit the Kikuyu

The Kikuyu live in a village located at the base of the Outspan Hotel in Aberdare National Park and visiting them offers you a glimpse into their rich culture and traditions. Traditional Kikuyu dancers clad in traditional clothes perform in this wonderful village. Experience the Agikuyu custom in this hamlet, which was created exclusively for visitors to learn about the indigenous nations’ cultures.

How to Get to Aberdare National Park

By Road: Aberdare National Park is about 99 miles (160 kilometers) away from Nairobi’s Capital. A nice tarmac road connects the Naro Moru and Nyeri settlements on the eastern side of the park. The ideal route, however, departs from the cities of Naivasha and Nyahururu. If you’re coming from Nyeri, the gates are at Treetops, Ark, Ruhuruina, Wandare, and Kiandongoro. When entering the park from Nyahururu, utilize the Shamata or Rhino Gates. The Mutubio gate is ideal for visitors arriving from Naivasha.

By Air: Two airstrips operate chartered flights to Aberdare National Park and they include. Mweiga and Nanyuki.

where to stay in Aberdare National Park

Treetops Hotel Aberdare

Treetops Hotel Aberdare is located in Aberdare National Reserve and is the first treehouse in Kenya. The hotel is well-known for its location in the park, which overlooks a salt lick and a waterhole, as well as a historical royal link. The hotel, which is 6,459 feet above sea level, was founded in 1932 and has since grown to a 50-room structure. The hotel has 5 triple rooms, 43 twin rooms, and 2 suites. It is located in the center of the dense lichen-hung Aberdare Forest and offers a wonderful view of Mt. Kenya as well as a salt lick and a waterhole.

Rhino Watch Safari Lodge

This lodge is located about 6 kilometers outside Mwiga Town on the Nyeri-Nyahururu route. The lodge is situated in the heart of the Rhino Watch 30-acre estate. It offers cozy and elegant chalets fashioned in the style of a typical Kikuyu dwelling. The roofs are made of makuti, a type of grass, and include a 25-square-meter bed and living space. Each room features two beds that may be joined to make a king-size bed. A tiny workstation and a few seats are also available. There is also a large bathroom with a hot shower.

Chaka Ranch Tented Camp

Chaka Ranch Tented camp is located in Kiganjo, Nyeri County, and provides one of the greatest luxury lodging experiences to tourists on Kenya safaris in Aberdare National Park. It is nestled in natural settings and magnificent gardens between the Aberdares Mountain Ranges and Mount Kenya. Accommodation is provided in 12 luxury tents in an exclusive and personal setting. The Chaka Tented Camp is a short walk from the magnificent Chaka Ranch Leisure Park, which has Kenya’s greatest collection of quad bikes and off-road buggies, providing stunning experiences for people of all ages. On a 2km race circuit, you may grab the wheel and enjoy a selection of fantastic off-road buggies.

Tafaria Castle and Cunty Lodge

Tafaria Castle and County Lodge is located on a hill overlooking Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Ranges, and the Laikipia Plains. The lodge features fantastic guesthouses and a tasty local community as well as foreign culture meals. Right outside the hotel, the Aberdares depict themselves in a gorgeous wallpaper-like manner, and there is no better site to stare at it as well as Mt. Kenya than from this lodge.

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