Aberdare National Park

The Aberdare National Park is a protected area in the Aberdare Mountain Range in Central Kenya located east of the East African Rift Valley. It covers the higher areas and the Aberdare Salient to the east. The park is located about 100 km north of Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrain at altitudes from 2,000 metres (6,600 ft.) to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft.). Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 square kilometers and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range. The park contains a wide range of landscapes from mountain peaks that rise to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft.) above sea level, to their deep v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Moorland, bamboo forests and rainforests are found at lower altitudes. Due to its favourable altitude, the reserve is quite misty and rainy, with roads that become almost impassable during the rainy season.

 

Aberdare is a wildlife haven.  The predator species travelers can hope to see include lion, leopard, African wild dog, hyena, jackal, and the African golden cat.  Some of the other popular species include eland, bushbuck, buffalo, reedbuck, giant forest hog, warthog, and hosts a large population the endangered large black rhinoceros.

Birdwatchers will also find this to be a paradise.  There are over 250 species of birds including the majestic African fish eagle, the African goshawk, and many others. Night time animal viewing is available through the Treetops and The Ark, which have lighted watering holes.

 

Aberdare National Park is best known as the site where in 1952, Princess Elizabeth found out she was Queen after she learned about the death of her father King George VI, while staying at the Treetops Hotel. Aberdare National Park was established in 1950 with an aim to conserve and protect the Aberdare Mountains. Since then it has grown to a size of an area of 767 km.

What to do in Aberdare National Park

Game Drives/Viewing

Game drives is one of the most done and exciting activity done in Aberdare national park. These can be done on half day or full day following the park trails like salient zone. This rewards with clear views of wildlife species like black rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, spotted hyenas, white and black colobus monkeys among others. During the game drive, you will also be able to view waterfalls like Karuru, which flows into three steps- Magura falls, Chania falls and have spectular views of the scenery mountain streams and hills among others.

 

Bird Watching

Birdwatchers find Aberdare National Park a paradise, as there are over 250 species of birds including the majestic African fish eagle, the African goshawk, and many others. The best time to visit the park for bird watching is November to April when migrant birds are present and when the birds are nesting. The activity can also be done during the guided nature walk or during game drives.

 

Mountain Climbing/Hiking

Mountain climbing/hiking is an exciting and adventurous activity in the park. The park has various peaks, which offer hiking safaris like elephant hill hike, which stands 3720 meters above sea level and is a 26 km hike. During this hike, one is rewarded with sights of different animals, sasamua dam and Ndakani dam. One can also decide to hike Oln Doinyo Satima Mountain, which stands at an elevation of 400 meters above sea level. The peak rewards with magnificent views of the Rift Valley, Mount Kenya and wildlife species among others. There are also other mountains like Kipipiri Mountain, which is west of the mountainous moorlands, and Kinangop Mountain located in the south.

 

Trout Fishing

Aberdare National Park is one of the best destinations for trout fishing; the activity is carried out in the moorlands, which consist of icy crystal clear streams in the wide valleys and vast slopes within the park. There are three rivers, which offer easy access to fishing; river Karuru, Chania and Guru. The most frequented river being River Chania located just below a waterfall, which can be accessed from Matubio gate.

 

Horse Riding

This is done at the foothills of Aberdare ranges and offers a great opportunity for adventuring the wild on the back of a horse with beautiful sights of the attractions and wildlife species.

WhEN TO VISIT Aberdare National Park

The highlands and dense forests of Aberdare National Park captivate travelers in Africa year-round, though the best time to visit the park is during the dry season as compared to the wet season. The dry season, which we consider the best time to visit the park, is from July to October. During the dry season, the animals gather around the few remaining watering holes, and therefore, are easier to locate and view. Insect populations are also lower during the dry season, so you do not have to contend with the mosquitoes as much; though, repellent and prophylaxis protection is recommended regardless.

 

The short rains arrive in November and December, and these rains have little if any impact on your activities as the moisture tends to evaporate quickly. The short dry and humidly hot season is in January and March with some pockets of rain, followed by welcoming the long and heavy rainy season of April and May. In late March and early June, you may experience light rains. The rainy seasons, though, do have some advantages that you may consider as an important part of your connoisseur safari in Kenya. First, the vegetation transforms into a deep rich green, and the vivid colors of wildflowers dot the landscape. Second, some mammals especially antelopes give birth during the long rainy season, and you can witness the incredible first hours of Kenya’s newest generation of wildlife. When the rains arrive, though, more water sources are available, so the wildlife tends to spread out more. You may not see the concentration of animals in a small area that you would during the dry seasons. Additionally, the roads and trails in the park may be much more demanding to navigate due to the black cotton soil, and the conditions may adversely affect your game drive excursions, hiking and walking safaris.

HOW TO GET To Aberdare National Park

The park can easily be accessed by both road and Air transportation. The park is located in central Kenya, north of Nairobi.

 

By Road, drive on a smooth tarmac road from Nyeri and Naro Morouon the Eastern side. It is 150 kilometers from the capital Nairobi. The road cuts across the park through the lower slopes up to the moorlands to join another one from Naivasha on the western side. It is an 87-kilometer journey to Naivasha from Nairobi.

The park headquarters is 15 kilometers from Nyeri town on the Nyeri Nyahururu road; it is where you load access pass.

The park has various gates like Shamata or rhino gate, which can be accessed when you are coming from Nyahururu and Mutubio gate, which can be accessed when coming from Naivasha.

 

By Air, one can fly to the Mweiga Airstrip, which is the nearest airstrip from Aberdare national park. The airstrip is on the opposite side on the park headquarters near Sasin Estate Farm along Nyeri Nyahururu road.

There are several domestic airlines, which operate flights like Safarilink and Airkenya among others.