ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
Aberdare national park is a remarkable Kenya safari destination and a great scenic destination found in central Kenya – East of the East African Rift Valley, the park covering an area of 776 square kilometers forms part of the Aberdare Mountain from which the park gets its name.
Aberdare national park lies at the northern end of the Aberdares ranges which are situated along the eastern side of the Great Rift Valley at its highest point. Aberdare national park is a perfect destination for Kenya Mountain hiking safari destination, Aberdares ranges stand at the maximum elevation of about 4000 meters above the sea level and consists of
- Mount Santima – the highest peak
- Mount Kinangop – the second highest peak at the southern end of the ranges
- Chebuswa at 3364 meters
- Table Mountain at 3791 meters
- Martini Hill at 3698 meters
- The Elephant at 3590 meters.
Aberdare national park was established as a national park in May 1950, the establishment of this park was a far-sighted decision intended to protect Aberdare Mountains and wildlife inhabiting surrounding the mountains. This area is believed to be one of the homes to the Kikuyu god Ngai (god) and the area is originally known as Nyandarua a local slag meaning the drying hide and this is due to the distinctive folds of the silhouette.
Aberdare ranges were renamed Aberdare by Joseph Thompson in 1884 after Lord Aberdare (the president of the Royal Geography Society), Aberdare ranges are also dubbed the “white Highlands” because of the large numbers of the Europeans who settled in these ranges in the 1920s. The ranges also achieved notoriety due to the decadent antics of the “Happy Valley Set” of the Wanjohi Valley, the area is also known as the headquarters of the Dedan Kimathi who was the leader of the 1950s Mau Uprising.
Aberdare National Park is a very monument place to the ruling Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth as she became the queen during her Kenya safari vacation in this park.
Aberdare national park is a great habitat to a variety of wildlife including the big 5 (lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinos and elephants), the park has been known for being a home to the second largest population of endangered black rhinos in Kenya. Other animals in the park include defassa waterbucks, reedbucks, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, hyenas, sykes monkeys, bush pig, dik-dik, reedbuck and many more. There are also nocturnal animals such as giant forest hog and large-spotted genet.
Aberdare national park is one of the best birding habitats in Kenya hosting about 250 bird species which include Aberdare cisticola, Abyssinian crimsonwing, African goshawk, African green pigeon, African paradise flycatcher, African yellow warbler, Augur buzzard, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, Bronzy sunbird, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Crowned eagle and many more.
Things to do in Aberdares national park
Aberdare national park is listed among the best destinations for mountain climbing tours in Kenya, Aberdare ranges are 160 kilometers long isolated volcanic range forming the easternmost wall of the Great Rift Valley. Aberdare ranges stand at the maximum elevation of about 4000 meters above the sea level with heavily forested slopes, ranges of the Aberdare include Mount Santima – the highest peak, Mount Kinangop – the second highest peak at the southern end of the ranges, Chebuswa at 3364 meters, Table Mountain at 3791 meters, Martini Hill at 3698 meters and the Elephant at 3590 meters.
Trekking the park ranges are done using various routes and during this activity you get to encounter the beautiful vegetation dominating the volcano such as rain forests, dense bamboo forests and moorland. You will also encounter a variety of animals such as antelopes, monkey species and a diversity of birdlife such as Aberdare cisticola, Abyssinian crimsonwing, African goshawk, African green pigeon, African paradise flycatcher, African yellow warbler, Augur buzzard, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, Bronzy sunbird, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Crowned eagle and many more.
Game viewing is one of the highlights of your Kenya safari in Aberdares national park, game drives in this amazing park are offered as morning game drives and afternoon game drives providing you an opportunity to view undulating hills, bogs, mountain streams, waterfalls and many animals such as bongo antelopes, giant forest hog, lions, elephants, buffaloes, black rhino, black and white colobus monkey, sykes monkey, large spotted genet and many more.
Aberdares national park is a very rewarding Kenya birding destination with about 250 bird species recorded to inhabiting in the park’s forest vegetation. Birds in the park include Aberdare cisticola, Abyssinian crimsonwing, African goshawk, African green pigeon, African paradise flycatcher, African yellow warbler, Augur buzzard, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Bar-tailed trogon, Bronzy sunbird, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Crowned eagle, Doherty’s bush-shrike, Golden-winged sunbird, Hartlaub’s turaco, Hunter’s cisticola, Jackson’s francolin, Montagu’s harrier, Montane white-eye, Moorland chat, Moorland francolin, Mountain buzzard, Moustached green tinkerbird, Narina trogon, Olive ibis, Rufous-chested sparrowhawk, Scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, Sharpe’s longclaw, Silvery-cheeked hornbill, Tacazze sunbird, Tambourine dove, White-headed wood-hoopoe and many more.
Birding watching in the park is good all year round but the best time is from November to April when the migrants are Eurpoe and North Africa are present in the park. This period coincides with wet season which is a breeding season for most of the birds in Aberdares national park.
Trout fishing in the park is an exciting Kenya safari activity done in moorland’s small rivers including River Chania the major river. The mountain streams offer excellent angling and both brown and rainbow trout are done.
To participating in trout fishing in the park you need a sports fishing license obtained at the park’s gate costing Kshs 515.
Where to stay in Aberdare national park
In Aberdare national park accommodation is got from a variety of safari lodges, campsites and bandas ranging from luxury, midrange and budget as showed below.
- Treetops lodge
- The Ark
- Aberdare cottages
- Fishing Lodge
- Tusk Camp Banda
- Sapper Hut
How to get to Aberdare national park
Aberdare national park is accessed using road and air means of the transport
By road – The park is situated 150 kilometers from Nairobi and is accessed using a tarmac road from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the Eastern side, this road crosses through the park through the lower slopes upto the Moorlands to connect with another route from Naivasha on the western side. From Nyeri town, the headquarters of Aberdare national park is situated in 15 kilometers along the Nyeri – Nyahururu road.
By air – domestic flights to Aberdare national park are offered from Wilson airport in Nairobi to Mweiga Airstrip situated opposite the park headquarters along Nyeri – Nyahururu road near Sasini Estate Farm.