Created in 1950, Aberdare National Park was a far-sighted decision to protect the Aberdare Mountains and surrounding wildlife. It is situated 100km (62 miles) north of Nairobi, at the very center of Kenya. Aberdare National Park covers just 766km², which is small compared to other national parks, and has more difficult terrain due to its location in Kenya’s central highlands, to the west of Mount Kenya. The volcanic range of the Aberdare Mountains varies from the high moorland at 3000 meters (9842 feet), to the peaks of Kinangop (3906m/12814 feet) and Ol Donyo Lesatima (3999m/13123 feet). The rich, red volcanic soil provides excellent growing conditions for the indigenous forest, and lies in stark contrast to both the forest and the mountain’s rugged and beautiful peaks. One of the main features of Aberdare National Park is that it is home to the second largest population of black rhinos, which are an endangered species. Other animals that may be observed in the park include African lions, leopards, baboons, and black and white Colobus monkeys and Sykes monkeys. There are also over 250 species of birds, including hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.
Best Time to Visit
January and February are good months to visit Aberdare, as are June to September. March to May is the heavy rainy season and should be avoided because the roads become impassable. There may also be some access problems from October to December.
By Road: Aberdare is 160km (99 miles) from Nairobi. There is a tarmac road from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side of Aberdare. However, the best access route is from the towns of Nyahururu and Naivasha. Gates are situated at Ruhuruina, Kiandongoro, Ark, Wandare and Treetops, if approaching from Nyeri. From Nyahururu, use the Rhino Gate, Shamata Gate and from Naivasha, use the Mutubio Gate.
By Air: There are two good airstrips for chartered aircrafts at Nyeri and Mweiga, next to the Aberdare National Park headquarters.
Aberdare National Park offers many activities and tourist attractions, as well as wildlife safaris. See African elephants, lions, rhinos, black leopards and bongo antelope as well as many other animals native to Kenya.
Bird watching is good here, with over 250 species of birds recorded in Aberdare National Park. Trout fishing in the ice-cold Guru Karuru and Chania Rivers is another popular activity.
You can also take time to admire Lesatima and Kinangop peaks or walk through the moorland and visit the magnificent waterfalls. Do a nocturnal animal viewing from The Ark or Treetops lodges. In fact, it was while vacationing at the Treetops lodge that Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain learned her father had died, thus making her Queen. Climb the Twin Hills, Elephant Hills and Table Mountains.
Wildlife present in the protected area include lion, leopard, elephant, East African wild dog, giant forest hog, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, Cape buffalo, suni, side-striped jackal, eland, duiker, olive baboon, black and white colobus monkey, and sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include those of the African golden cat and the bongo. Species such as the common eland, 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 francolin, sparrowhawk, African goshawk, African fish eagle, sunbirds and plovers.