Founded in 1950, Aberdare National Park is undoubtedly one of the oldest protected areas in East Africa. It boasts of its biodiversity that can be explored within the shortest time possible. This conservancy area stretches up to 767 square kilometers making it one of the smallest protected areas in the magical Kenya. Its establishment was mainly to offer refuge to its significant wildlife species and the magical Aberdare mountain ranges which rate it among the most famous and excellent tourist sites in Africa. Equally, its landscape is breathtaking as it sprawls around most of Kenya’s central highlands between altitude 2000 and 4300 meters to the west of Mount Kenya.
Aberdare National Park also stretches to cover some parts of the Aberdare Mountains ranges from the high moorland to the peaks of the Kinangop and Ol Donyo Lesatima which also feature a canyon like V-shaped valleys that make up the gentler valleys that are divided between steep hills and rocky outcrops. Rivers and streams also surge down via the stunning waterfalls. Due to its strategic location, this park features among a few most valuable catchment areas in Kenya providing water to River Tana and Athi as well as part of Central Rift and Northern drainage basins. To traditional Kikuyu folklore, Aberdare is a home of Ngai which means God! It comprises of 2 zones-the western side that features thick forest and the most spectacular Aberdare terrains and then the eastern side of the park which also comes with two safari lodges, treetops and the Ark.
What to see in Aberdare National Park
This remarkable conservancy area is a home to varied tourist attractions making it one of the most endowed travel destinations that is worth exploring while you are on safari in Africa. Aberdare National Park features the second largest population of black rhinos as well as several wildlife species that include among others leopards, African elephants, Cape buffalos, olive baboons, duikers, mountain reedbuck, water back, East African wild dog, bushbuck, golden cats, side stripped jackals, bongo antelope, elands, melanistic serval cats, Sykes monkey and black and white colobus monkeys. This makes it a few ideal destinations for game viewing. Besides, it is perfect for picnic tours, trout fishing especially in its spectacular rivers and camping in the moorlands.
If you are interested in bird watching, Aberdare National Park hosts over 290 bird species. While on birding tour, you have a chance to spot out bird species such as the sunbirds, goshawks, Jackson’s francolin, mountain buzzard, ayre’s hawk eagles, Rufous breasted sparrow hawks among others. This park is however significant for birding, wildlife viewing or nocturnal game viewing from the Ark/treetops lodge, trout fishing in the ice cold Guru Karuru and Chania Rivers, climb to the twin hills, table mountains and Elephant hills, pay a visit to the waterfalls, catch a glimpse at the stunning Lesatima and Kinangop peaks or alternatively take a walk via the moorland. It is from this pristine protected area that the treetops Hotel is located that featured as a place where Princess Elizabeth of the UK acceded the throne at the time when her father passed on around 1952.
When to visit Aberdare National Park
Safaris to Aberdare National Park can be done at any time of the year. Most importantly, what may seem to be the best time to one person may turn to be the worst time to another party. That is why you need to take into consideration which month is good for you to explore this magical protected area. That said visits can be done between January and February, from June to September. Due to its high elevation, the area is a bit cooler compared to the savanna and the coastal plains. In most cases, the area is filled with mist and visitors should expect rains at any time. It also experiences 2 significant wet seasons that start from March to May and October to December. This park receives rainfall amount of about 1000mm in the northwestern side of the park to 3000mm in the south east. Traveling during the rainy season is sometimes very challenging especially on muddy routes. For visitors who are interested in nocturnal/game wildlife species in this park are best spotted from January to March. If it is birds that you need to spot out while on Kenya safari in this park, then you pay a visit from April to December.
Getting to Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park can be reached by road and air. By road, you can take the Nairobi route while in 4 WD safari vehicle or take a flight to Nanyuki where you will drive along the tarmac road to Nyeri about 180 kilometers from Nairobi or Naru Moru to Aberdare National Park’s eastern entrances. There are affordable commercial airstrip like Mweiga and Nyeri that are available for charter flights to areas next to the protected area’s headquarters. You can also take a route that connects the eastern boundary with the entrances to the western side of the park where visitors can connect by car from Naivasha about 87 kilometers in the rift valley but you need to have a bit of stamina as it involves navigating through the mountain terrains around this area. 5 gates lead you into Aberdare National Park and they include the Ark gate, Treetops gate, Mutubio, Shamata, Ruhurni gate and Kiandagoro gate. The entrance to the park starts from 6:00am to 6:00pm after clearing with park entrance fees that may cost around $50 for adults and $25 for children. For a complete safari in this pristine protected area, you need enough drinking water, picnic and camping equipment, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guided books, binoculars and others.
Lodges to spend a night in Aberdare National Park
Visitors on Kenya safari to Aberdare National Park can spend a night in Ark Tree Lodge which comes with scenic views over one of the biggest salt licks and waterholes in the Aberdare volcanoes which features several forest wildlife species compared to the rest of other parts in Africa. This lodge is unique on its own as it designed in form of an Ark and provides the best accommodation in en-suite rooms.
Aberdare Country Club; this hospitality facility straddles on the Mweiga Hill side in the Aberdare Mountains, part of the might rift valley. It is known to be a heritage property in Kenya and it offers the most room for those visitors who need to have privacy while on safari. While here, you have a great opportunity to take part in horseback riding tours, game drives, nature walks, play golf among others. Other safari lodges include Aberdare cottages, Tusk Camp Banda and Fishing Lodge. There are also many campsites and public campsites are available at reedbuck, Shamata, wandare and Ruhuruini.