Aberdare Kenya Safari, Aberdare National Park

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The Aberdare Mountain Range are probably not what visitors imagine when they imagine an East African safari; nowhere in the 296 sq mi (767 sq km) park does one find endless golden plains populated by nervous gazelles, hungry cheetahs, and napping lions. One does find high mountains, dense rain forest, thickets of bamboo, rushing rivers, cascading waterfalls, abundant birdlife, rare monkeys, and the opportunity to spot, from a vantage-point high in the forest, elephants, leopards, and lions sipping water from a forest waterhole.

Quick Facts

  • The rivers and many misty waterfalls in the park testify to the region’s prodigious rainfall; travel during the rainy season can be difficult.
  • The park straddles the volcanic eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley, much of it above 10,000 feet (3,000 m) and above the treeline.
  • There are a number of high peaks in the Aberdare range, with 13,120 foot (3,999 m) Ol Donyo Lesatima and 12,814 foot (3,906 m) Kinangop the most prominent.

The Wildlife
The most popular spot in the Aberdare National Park to view wildlife is from the comfort of one of the two “tree-top” lodges built on stilts in the dense forest of the Salient. Both overlook waterholes and salt licks to which wildlife is attracted, night and day. Lodge rooms include bells that inform guests of the presence of visitors below, the number of rings corresponding to the species of visitor.
Birdlife is, of course, abundant in the Aberdare range, and while the monkey-eating crowned eagle may be the most thrilling in terms of diet, plenty of other species thrill with their plumage.

Significant Mammals

 Elephant  - African Hunting Dog -  Black Rhino -  Leopard -  Baboon -  Black and White Colobus monkey -  Sykes monkey -  Lion -  Golden cat -  Bongo -  Eland -   Serval 


Significant Birds   

Sparry Hawk  - African Goshawk -  Sunbirds -  Plovers - African Green Ibis -  Ayres's Hawk Eagle -  Crowned Eagle -  African Grass Owl -  Cape Eagle Owl -  Jackson's Francolin -  Long-tailed -  Widowbird-  Aberdare Cisticola -  Baillon's Crake -  Striped Flufftail 


Night Game Watching -  The waterholes and salt licks attract wildlife day and night – and that attracts wildlife watchers day and night, too. Neither visitor seems disturbed by the other, nor by the floodlights that illuminate the scene for all.

Game Drives -  In addition to expeditions in search of the park’s monkeys and other forest mammals, expect to catch a glimpse of several of the rhinos the park protects.

Bird Watching -  In the rain forest, birders must rely on their ears first.

Mountain Climbing -  Summiting either peak is not a walk in the park; expect several days of difficult hiking.

Hiking -  Short hikes to accessible – and astonishing – rain forest waterfalls are popular with hikers of all skill levels. 

Cultural Visits -  The Kikuyu migrated to the Aberdare Mountan region in the 1500s and farmed the rich soil for centuries, until the arrival of European colonists in the late 1800s. Kenya was claimed as a British protectorate in 1895, and the effect on Kikuyu culture was dramatic. European settlers claimed the richest farmland for themselves, displacing the Kikuyu, and undermining the traditional tribal system.  Perhaps because they were among the tribes who suffered the most under British rule, the Kikuyu lead the fight for Kenyan independence, which was ultimately achieved in 1963. The caves used as hideouts by these so-called “Mau Mau Revolutionaries,” are accessible to visitors, although they were destroyed by British colonial authorities during the Mau Mau Uprising.

How to Get There -  Aberdare National Park is located in Kenya’s central highlands.
By Road -  The park is about 60 miles from Nairobi and is readily accessible on paved road from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side. A road crosses the park to connect with another from Naivasha and North Kinangop on the west. The main towns from which the park can be approached are Nyeri (95 miles from Nairobi), Nyahururu (117 miles from Nairobi) and Naivasha (54 miles from Nairobi).
By Air -  Mweiga Airstrip is next to the park headquarters. Nyeri Airstrip, which is 7 miles from Mweiga, is also an option.