Aberdare National Park is a picturesque Kenya safari destination characterized of steep forested ravines, spectacular waterfalls and open moorland, the park is located in the Aberdare Mountain ranges in central Kenya within the East Africa Rift Valley Region.
About Aberdare national park
Aberdare National Park covers a total surface of 766 square kilometers, the park forms a portion of the Aberdare Mountain Range rising at altitude range of 2,000m (6,600 ft) to 4,000m (13,000 ft) above the sea level. The park has an incredible landscape featuring two eco-systems that is the salient made up of rainforest, moorland and bamboo on the lower slopes and the mountain range.
The park also consists of V-shaped valley traversed by rivers, streams and waterfalls, foggy tropical rainforests, steep topography and a spectacular 300 meters high waterfalls.
Aberdare national park is a hiking paradise, the hike takes you through rainforest to bamboo groves and high alpine plants. Peaks found in the park include Kinangop at the altitudes of 3,906 meters and Ol Donyo Le Satima at the altitude of 4000 meters.
The park is generally covered with moorlands and boasts spectacular views of Mount Kenya and numerous lakes of the Great Rift Valley.
History of Aberdare National Park
Aberdare national park was established as a national park in May 1950 purposely to protect the Aberdare Mountains and the ecosystem around the ranges, the rangers were visited by an explorer Joseph Tompson in 1884. During his visit, he name the ranges “Aberdares” from Lord Aberdare the president of the Royal Georgraphical Society.
To the Kikuyu people, the ranges are of traditional importance, they believe the mountains are home to their god “Ngai” and they refer to them as Nyandarua meaning the drying hide which is a reference to the distinctive folds of its silhouette.
The Aberdare ranges are also referred to as the “White ranges” due to the large population of Europeans who settled on the ranges in 1920.
Tourist Attractions in Aberdare national Park
The Aberdare Range
The Aberdare range formerly known as The Satima Range is a 160 kilometers long mountain range lying at an elevation of 3,500 meters, the range straddles across the countries of Nyandarua, Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu and Laikipia.
Aberdare range forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley running roughly north to south, on the west the range falls off steeply into the Kinangop plateau and then into the Great Rift Valley.
Mount Satima is the highest peak of the Aberdare range and Mount Kinangop at 3,906 meters is second highest peak in the range which lies on the southern end of the ranges. Other ranges include Chebuswa range (3364 meters), Table Mountain (3,791 meters), Martini Hill (3,698 meters) and Elephant range at 3,590 meters.
Aberdare National Park is home to abundant wildlife including the second largest population of rhinos in Kenya, other animals in the park include elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, bush bucks, waterbucks among others.
Aberdare national park also offers rare sightings of wildlife species such as the Giant Forest Hog, blue duiker, African golden cat, African wild cat, bongo, serval cat, African civet cat and lions.
Aberdare National Park is a birder’s paradise and one of the Important Birding Areas in Kenya with over 250 recorded bird species including endemic species such as the mysterious Aberdare Cisticola (endemic to the region) and Hartlaub’s turaco which is a distinctive species.
Birds in Aberdare national park include African goshawk, Tacazze sunbird, Olivi’s ibis, Crowned Eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, Narina trogon, Mustached green tinker birds, crowned eagle, Sharpes long claw, Moorland francolin, Aberdare cisticola and Ayres hawk-eagle among others.
Aberdares National Park has a number of waterfalls creating a spectacular scenery as they plunge from high altitudes flowing down amidst forests, Karuru waterfall is the main waterfall in Aberdares National Park at the elevation of 273 meters.
Karuru waterfall features 3 steps with the first step flowing at 117 meters, second step at 26 meters and 3rd step at 130 meters. Other water falls in Aberdare national park include Gura falls found on the opposite side of Karuru waters and Magura falls found at the mouth of Queen’s Cave.
Safari Activities to do in Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park is a rewarding destination for game drives which are done in 3 sessions on a daily that is morning game drive starting at 06:30 am, morning game drive is the best time to see animals as they are very active looking for food and some going back to their hideouts.
Afternoon game drives in Aberdare national park are done from 2 pm to 6 pm and is a perfect time to see animals under the tree resting. Night game drives start at 06:30 to 07:30 pm and is the best time to see nocturnal animals such as the bush babies, leopards, lions as they hunt.
Other animals to lookout for during a game drive in Aberdares national park include African elephants, cape buffaloes, mountain reedbuck, eland, wild dogs, leopards, side stripped jackals among others.
Aberdare national park is a magical destination for bird watching with over 290 bird species which can be spotted, birds to look out during bird watching safari include sunbird, goshawks, Jackson’s francolin, mountain buzzard, Rufous breasted sparrow hawks, ayre’s hawk among others.
Birding in Aberdare National Park is good all year around, however the best time is from November to April when migrating birds are present.
Aberdares National Park is one of the most thrilling destinations for hiking, the park features a rugged and hilly landscape making it a hiker’s paradise, hiking safaris leads to the table mountains, twin and elephant hills. During the experience you will enjoy stunning waters and spot some animals.
Cultural Encounters in Aberdare National Park takes you on a visit to the Kikuyu people living in a village located at the base of the Outspan Hotel in Aberdare, visiting the Kikuyu people offers you an insight into the life of the Kikuyu people and their fascinating traditions and culture.
You will be entertained by cultural dances and songs, taste some of their local meals, experience the Agikuyu custom and learn more about the indigenous cultures.
How To Get to Aberdare National Park
By road: Aberdare National Park is located about 99 miles away from Nairobi – Kenya’s Capital, a nicely tarmac road connects to the park form Nairobi and the ideal route runs from the town of Naivasha and Nyahururu covering a distance of 87 kilometers passing through beautiful slopes up to the moorland.
Gates used to get to Aberdare National Park include Tree Top Gate, Wandare Gate, Ark Gate, Kiandongoro Ruhuruina Gate.
By Air: Aberdare National Park is served by two airstrips operating chartered flights from Wilson Airstrip in Nairobi city, these airstrips are Mweiga and Nanyuki airstrips.
Where to stay in Aberdare National Park
Accommodation in Aberdare National Park range from luxury, midrange and budget and they include
- Fishing lodge Aberdare
- The Ark Lodge
- Upper Hut
- Serena Mountain Lodge
- Silent Lodge
- Tickles Hotel
- White Rhino Hotel
- Maru Gree Court Hotel
- Anka Resort
- Treetops lodge among others.
Best time to Visit Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park is considered a year – round safari destination, the park is mountainous thus experiencing mist and rain throughout the year. The drier months of January and February and from June to September and the best time to visit Aberdare National Park for a rewarding safari experience.