ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
Mountain Streams, Waterfalls, and Misty Moors
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
Imagine a highland safari in an upcountry paradise of mountain breezes, cool lakes, and streams. Here the hiking and fishing are a world away from Africa’s sunbaked savannahs. In the misty clime of Aberdare National Park, you might come upon antelope, buffalo, baboon, or even an elephant suddenly emerging from the thick forest before you.
This cool mountain haven can fool first-time visitors because it promises as much safari adventure as its lowland cousin parks. The park’s dense rainforest and bamboo groves shelter over 2,000 elephants and the second largest number of black rhino in Kenya. Spend some time roaming these lichen-rich forests and keep a watchful eye out for bush pigs, jackal, eland, and a rare antelope, the giant bongo. The truly fortunate may spot an unusual rarity – the extraordinary black leopard.
From Rainforest to Alpine Moorland
The park starts low in a tropical forest but advances up through bamboo groves and onto high elevation rough-hewn moors. Roughly divided into two sections or eco-systems, The Salient enchants visitors with swaths of rainforest and waterfalls as high as 300 m (984 ft).
Aberdare Park tops off with a table of windswept moors in an area known as the Kinangop Plateau. Intrepid visitors venturing to this altitude will discover a forbidding beauty of cold mountain streams, bogs and, stark, wild scenery.
Treetops and the Ark
Everything about this park is different – even the lodging. Located near popular watering holes, both accommodations provide day and nighttime viewing of the wildlife as they come to drink.
True to its name, Treetops Lodge impresses visitors with its treehouse-like design. Perched up high in their rooms, guests can watch elephant, buffalo and other denizens of the park emerge from the woods to visit the watering hole below.
You might think you’re witnessing a modern Noah’s Ark when first spotting The Ark Lodge, so familiar is the boat-like shape of the structure. It too provides excellent views of the wildlife below.
Sharing this land flocked with distinctive acacia trees are the Maasai people, nomadic herders from whom the park takes its name. They construct traditional villages surrounding the reserve and live as they have for eons, herding their cattle and pushing back at an ever-encroaching modern world.
Known for their brightly colored shukas and deft beadwork, the Maasai are a living link to a past that stretches back beyond colonial Africa, to an era when the entire continent was wild and untouched.
Trekking – Nature designed this park for vigorous hiking along its cool, windswept trails. Moving through the forests and over its crystal streams and moorlands, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife sighting, Aberdare rewards visitors with a different kind of safari.
Bird watching – The park’s rich forests and wetlands are home to busy displays of birdlife. Of the 290 species here look for birds of prey like the augur buzzard, African goshawk, crown eagles, and hawks.
Climbing – No technical skills are required to scale the summits here, just a desire to take in the amazing vistas of the surrounding hills and forests. Try stretching your legs on Twin Hills, Elephant Hills, or Table Mountain.
Waterfalls splendor – Complementing the thick forests and bubbling streams you’ll discover a dramatic collection of high waterfalls punctuating the park. Especially spectacular is 300 m (984 ft) Gura Falls, the highest in Kenya.
Stream fishing – This is mountain stream fishing at its most beautiful and bountiful. Try your hand at trout fishing in the icy mountain brooks and streams, especially the Guru Karuru and Chania Rivers.
These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.
- Education for local students, including computer skills training
- Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
- Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.
Ol Pejeta Eco-Facts
- Sanctuaries to protect endangered chimpanzees, oryx, hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, and bat-eared fox
- Home to the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos
- The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – the rhino population has increased by over 100 in the last 25 years.
Survey: Aberdare National Park
A modest sized park, Aberdare is 767 sq km (296 sq mi) in area and its elevations stretch from 2,000 m (6,600 ft) to 4,000 m (13,000 ft).
Location: Situated in Kenya’s central highlands, Aberdare lies 150 km (93 mi) east of Nairobi. The park hosts the volcanic Aberdare Range, the eastern wall of the Rift Valley.
Climate: The park is always cool and wet, however during the rainy seasons of March-May and October-December, the roads may become too muddy to navigate.
Best time to visit: The park is open throughout the year but during the drier seasons of January–February, and June–September, the park is most accessible.
Operating Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm, hiking is only allowed in marked areas and only with a Kenya Wildlife Service ranger.
Getting there: You can Book a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. And you’ll go in style – a specially outfitted 4 x 4 safari Jeep.
This is Aberdare
Go trout fishing, or hike across a misty, craggy moorland – your time in Aberdare will stand out from all the savannah safaris. And you’ll never forget spending an evening or two high up in Treetops or the Ark Lodges, looking down upon the varied wildlife emerging from the depths of the cool forests.
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