Aberdare National Park is one of the wildlife protected areas in Kenya located about 100 km north of Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrain at altitudes from 2,000 meters (6,600 ft) to 4,000 meters (13,000 ft). The park was established in May 1950 covering 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 meters (13,000 ft) above sea level, to their deep, V-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Rainforests, Moorland, bamboo and other forests are at lower altitudes.
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, whilst staying at the Treetops Hotel. The park was established to offer refuge to wildlife and the Aberdare mountain ranges.
The park receives mist and rains throughout the year, with precipitation varying from around 1000mm yearly on the north western slopes, to as much as 3000mm in the south east. Heavy rainfall occurs throughout the year.
The park is not only known for its scenic beauty, but also the abundant wildlife present in the protected area include the big game animals (lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalos and the rhinoceros), East African wild dogs, giant forest hogs, bushbucks, mountain reedbuck, waterbucks, suni, side-striped jackals, elands, duiker, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, and sykes monkeys. Other rare species include the African golden cat and the bongo. Species such as the common eland and serval live in the higher moorlands. The Aberdare National Park also hosts a large eastern black rhinoceros population and over 250 bird species including the endangered Aberdare cisticola, Jackson’s spur fowl, sparrow hawk, African goshawk, African fish eagle, sunbirds and plovers.
Activities in Aberdare national park
Game viewing and drive
Aberdare national park is considered as one of the best Kenya parks for wildlife viewing safaris with a good number of viewing spots that enable tourists to have a fantastic view of wildlife species such as Big 5 game (Lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos and the leopards),b as well as the giraffes, antelopes, elands, waterbucks, forest hogs, baboons, monkeys and several species of birds. The best viewing spots are near the waterbodies such as streams, waterfalls and rivers, where several mammals are seen drinking water. As you visit the forests, you will encounter the primates such as baboons and monkeys, and also view several grazing mammals in the moorland areas.
The best way to view the wildlife in Aberdare national park is by taking up a game drive as the park offers morning game drives, full day game drives and evening game drives. During the morning game drive, one gets an opportunity to encounter the nocturnal mammals, hunters and other mammals that arise very early in the morning to graze, the full day game drive and evening game drive all offer unforgettable experience where visitors can have time to see most of the animals in the park. You may also opt for a nature walk in well designated trails to watch the wildlife.
Aberdare national park is a home to over 250 bird species making it a true destination for bird lovers as they get an opportunity to trail deep into the rain-forest and bamboo forest to spend ample time watching the birds. Birds can even be visible while at your lodge or hotel as your resting. From the Months of November, December, January, February, March up to April, visitors get to see a lot of birds as it’s considered to be the nesting season and it’s the same time when migratory birds are seen in the park due to existence of a lot of food to feast on.
With the assistance of a pair of binoculars and a guide, a visitor gets an adventurous and fantastic birding experience in Aberdare national park. Some of the bird species to lookout for include; African fish eagle, spur fowl, plovers, sunbirds, hornbills, African thrush, Starlings, Ibis, Jackson’s francolin and many more.
Aberdare national park offers wonderful hiking adventures via the forest and moorlands to visit different attractions with in the park such as waterfalls, mountain ranges, and many other unique tourist attractions. During the hike, travelers get a clear view of the park with all its unique fauna and flora species.
For tourist who love fishing, Aberdare national park is one of the top destination to consider while planning. Fishing is better to do in the moorlands within the stream, valleys and rivers flow. Engage in trout fishing along river Chania or any other river within the park.
This activity is not common in most of the national parks. Taking a horseback riding safari enables adventurous tourists to explore the nature with in Aberdare national park closely. Take a ride to different parts of the park including the ranges of Mount Aberdare while encountering and viewing several fauna and flora species.
Visiting Karuru Waterfall
Karuru Waterfall is the tallest waterfall in the park. It features a total plunge of 895.67 feet (273 m) over three stages. The first stage falls (117 m), with the shortest plunge next at 26 m), and the final drop of (130 m) to the pool below.
Accommodation in the park.
The park has a variety of accommodation facilities that give clients a wonderful stay while on a safari. These include, the Treetops lodge, the Ark – built in the shape of Noah’s Ark and three self-help Banda sites. There are also eight special campsites and a public campsite in the moorland, plus also five picnic sites. Both Treetops and The Ark provide excellent nighttime wildlife viewing. Animals seen include Elephants, Cape buffalo, and rhino, which come to the waterholes.
Best time to visit
Aberdare national park is open to visitors any time of the year. During the dry months of January, February, June, July, August, September, and November, are the best season for visitors to have a Kenya safari in Aberdare national park.
It gets worse during the rainy months of March, April, May, October, and December when the park receives heavy rains making the roads muddy and impassable.
Getting to the park
There are two ways of getting to Aberdare National Park, by road or by air.
By Road, the main towns from which you can reach the park are Nyeri (154 km from Nairobi) Nyahururu (188 km from Nairobi) and Naivasha (87 km from Nairobi). The park is readily accessible on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side (160 km from Nairobi). A road crosses the park to connect with another from Naivasha and North Kinangop on the west.
By Air, you can reach the park by flying to Mweiga Airstrip which is next to the park headquarters or Nyeri Airstrip which is 12 km from Mweiga headquarters.
Gates to the park
Ark Gate, Treetops Gate, Ruhuruini Gate, Kiandagoro Gate, Mutubio gate, Wandare Gate, Shamata Gate and Rhino Gate.
When planning a trip to Kenya, consider going through a tour company or a tour operator.
If you have plans of traveling to any East African country, for activities like Gorilla tracking, lion tracking, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, wildlife viewing, game viewing, mountain hiking, volcanic exploration, wildebeest migration viewing, cultural experience, heritage sites visit plus your bucket list.