Fairend Safaris

Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park is situated in the central part of Kenya within the East Africa Rift Valley. It was established in 1950 to protect the wildlife species and the mountain ranges. The Park features two eco-systems made up of rainforest, moorland, and bamboo on the lower slopes. In addition, it consists of profound V-shaped valleys traversed by rivers, streams, and waterfalls.

The park was named after Aberdare mountain range which is an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern arm of the rift valley. It is a place where Princess Elizabeth found out she was queen. This was after she learned about the death of her father King George VI in 1952 as she was at Treetops Hotel.

Aberdare National Park is home to wildlife like leopards, spotted hyenas, buffalos, elephants, jackals, black rhinos, and warthogs. 

How to Get to Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park can be accessed by both road and air, it is 160 kilometers away from Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

By road: Travelers can access the park using the tarmac road that connects Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side of the park.  Alternatively, travelers from Nyeri use the gates at Treetops, Ark, Ruhuruina, Wandare, and Kiandongoro.  Tourists from Naivasha use Mutubio gate and travelers from Nyahurururu may use Shamata or Rhino gate.

By Air: Two airstrips operate chartered flights to Aberdare National Park, namely Mweiga and Nanyuki. The nearest is Mweiga airstrip which is on the opposite side of the park headquarters.

Top attractions to see in Aberdare National Park

Wildlife species

Not only is Aberdare National Park home to the ranges but also a wide range of wildlife species can be found here. More importantly, it has the second-largest herd of black rhinos in Kenya.  Additionally, other species like Elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys can be found in this park. The park also has rare species like the Giant Forest Hog, blue duike, African civet cat, and lions among others.

Aberdare Mountain Ranges

The Aberdare Ranges are indeed the famous attractions in Aberdare National Park, they stand at an elevation of about 4000 meters above sea level and are 160 kilometers long. The ranges form the border of the Great East Africa Rift Valley on the eastern side. Aberdare range is one of the greatest destinations for hiking in Kenya as travelers can hike the different ranges. The different ranges to choose from are Santima, Mount Kinangop, Chebuswa, Table Mountain, and Martini Hill. Several animals thrive on the slopes of these ranges including monkeys and birds.

 Bird species

Aberdare National Park has over 290 recorded bird species, birding is usually done with the help of a bird guide. The guide without doubt knows the different spots to find specific types of birds and the best birding trails. The list of birds to look out especially  are African green pigeon, African paradise flycatcher, African yellow warbler, Ayres’s hawk-eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, rare Scarlet-tufted Malachite sunbird, African goshawk, Bronzy sun-bird, Augur buzzard, Hartlaub’s turaco and Aberdare cisticola, among others.

Waterfalls

Aberdare National Park has several waterfalls which are a fantastic attraction to explore while visiting the park. These include Karuru Falls which is the highest at 273 metres making it the tallest waterfall in Kenya. It gives a breathtaking spectacle that plunges below the viewing point and is surrounded by magnificent flora and scenery. Other waterfalls found in the park are Chain waterfalls, Nyahururu waterfalls, Kereita cave and waterfall, and Magura waterfall.

The Kikuyu People

The Kikuyu people live around the park, they believe that the Aberdare ranges are residences of Ngai, their god.  Formerly 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 have a distinct culture and norms that can be learned about during cultural encounters.

Activities to do in Aberdare National Park

Game drives and animal viewing

Aberdare National Park is home to several wild animal species which can be seen when travelers embark on game drives in the comfort of a 4×4 WD. Game drives are usually conducted in the morning, afternoon, and evening/night with guidance of a trained guide or ranger.

Wild species like Big 5, spotted hyenas, elands, bongo antelopes, and giant forest hogs among others can be sighted. More so, travelers can view other features for example waterfalls, vegetation, mountain streams, and hills during the game drives.

Hiking and nature walks

Aberdare National Park offers great hiking trails since it has different mountain ranges, and rugged and hilly landscapes. Travelers can opt to hike either elephant hill or Doinyo Satima Mountain which stand at 3720 and 4000 meters above sea level respectively. Other options are Kinangop and Kipipiri Mountain which is located in the west of the mountainous moorlands. 

Birding

There are about 290 recorded bird species found in Aberdare National park and these can be spotted during a birding tour or safari. The birds to look out for are African paradise flycatcher, Aberdare cisticola, African green pigeon, Jackson’s francolin and hunters cisticola. There are numerous species that can be seen using binoculars and with the help of a trained birding guide. The best time to go for birding is from November to April when migratory birds are present in the park.

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 Black Rhino. The wildlife species can be seen roaming in the vast fields of Ol Pejeta. In addition, the Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also one of the Sweetwaters’ most popular attractions.

Chimpanzee trekking

Travelers can engage in chimpanzee trekking at Ol Pajeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. It takes about 1 to 2 hours’ drive to get there and trekking can be done in the morning or afternoon.  Guests get to spend time with the primates and learn about their social behaviors and way of living. 

Bush breakfast and Sundowner

This is one way of enjoying drinks and eats in the wilderness after a morning or evening game drive. While having great scenic views of the Aberdare ranges and hills around the park, travelers may sip on a glass of wine or eat some grapes. They can also sit and see the sun soak behind the hills after a nature walk or a game drive.

Fishing

Travelers may participate in sport fishing when visiting Aberdare National Park. This is done in the high moorlands’ streams and rivers like Chania, Gura, and Ambone rivers. Tourists are required to have a fishing license and fishing gear which can be obtained from the park headquarters.

Visit the Kikuyu

The Kikuyu live in a village located at the base of the Outspan Hotel in Aberdare National Park. Visiting them offers you a glimpse into their rich culture, way of living and traditions. During the visit travelers get to enjoy their beautiful performances as they are dressed in traditional clothes.

Where to stay when visiting Aberdare National Park

Whereas there is a wide range of accommodation facilities where travelers can stay during a safari in Aberdare National Park it depends on the budget. The lodges in the park range from luxury, midrange, budget and they include the  Tafaria castle and cunty lodge, Rhino watch safari,  Ark, Aberdare Country Club, Treetops Lodge,  Aberdare Cottages and Fishing Lodge, Tusk Camp Banda, Campsites, Sapper hut among others.

When to visit Aberdare National Park

Travelers can visit Aberdare National Park throughout the year, however the best time to visit is during the dry season from December to February and June to September. These months are ideal for game viewing and hiking. The wet season occurs from March to May and October to November and these are good times to go for bird-watching.