Aberdare National Park is a 767-square-kilometer protected area in Central Kenya. In contrast to Kenya’s other national parks’ vast savannahs, this park has dense green forests, and deep gorges intersected by streams, rivers, and gushing waterfalls.
In May 1950, the park was established to protect the forested slopes and moors of the Aberdares mountains, of which it is a part. The Aberdare ranges are the third-highest mountain range in the country. The mountain range rises from 1829 to 4001 meters above sea level.
Aberdare Park has two ecosystems. The Salient has rainforest and hills with high waterfalls while the Kinangop Plateau is plain with hills, bogs, and mountain streams.
Most endangered species live in Aberdare National Park. This includes the rare Bongo, Giant Forest Hog, Wild Dogs, Endemic mole-rat, and mole shrew. There are large populations of black rhinos, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, and sykes monkeys in the park. Lions, golden cats, and the elusive bongo forest antelope are rarely seen in the park.
Bushbuck, waterbuck, Cape buffalo, side-striped jackal, eland, duiker, leopard, and elephants are some of the other animals found in the park.
Over 250 bird species are found in Aberdare National Park. This includes the endangered Aberdare cisticola, Jackson’s spurfowl, Jackson’s Francolin, Sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds, and plovers.
Aberdare National Park has dense mountain rainforests and bamboo forests. These woodlands are home to the majority of the park’s big game.
The Aberdares have a diverse range of vegetation because of the park’s altitude and rainfall. There are 778 vegetation and plant species, subspecies, and varieties found in Aberdare National Park.
A wide range of animals can be found in Aberdare National Park. Black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, sykes monkeys, African elephants, warthogs, and bushbucks are some of the animals that may be seen in the park.
Aberdare boasts breathtaking scenery and impressive waterfalls. At 300 m (984 ft), Gura waterfall is Kenya’s steepest fall. Karuru, Chaina, and Maraqua Falls are other magnificent waterfalls. A visit to the Karuru and Chaina waterfalls is an adventurous experience with a unique walking experience in the moorlands.
The park is home to over 290 species of bird, including the severely endangered Aberdare Cisticola and the locally endemic Jackson’s francolin, as well as sparry hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds, and plovers.
The Aberdare Mountains are a 160-kilometer-long isolated volcanic range. It forms the Great Rift Valley’s easternmost wall. It has an elevation of 4,001 meters on average (13,130 ft).
Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999 m) to the north and Kinangop (3,906 m) to the south are its two main peaks. These peaks are separated by a long’saddle’ of land above 3,000 meters in elevation. The mountain range’s main ecosystems are rainforest, dense bamboo forests, and moorland. The gentle forested slopes to the east are home to a diverse range of wildlife. There are many elephants, buffalo, giant forest hogs, hyenas, and the endangered black rhino and bong.
Aberdare’s mountainous and hilly landscapes are ideal for hiking. Hiking to the tops of the table mountains, twin or elephant hills, or across waterfalls is possible.
Hiking and leisurely walks are great for exploring delicate flora, insects, amphibians, and smaller mammals.
These also provide opportunities to view breathtaking scenery while interacting with wildlife.
Safari drives in Aberdare National Park provide opportunities to observe a variety of animal activities. Game drives can be done at any time of day or night. This allows for encounters with a wide range of wildlife species, including the Big 5, several wild cats, and nocturnal animals.
This can be done on various rivers such as the Guru, Karuru, and Chaina rivers, as well as numerous other fishing spots throughout the park. You can also do cave fishing where you get to also see lots of wildlife. Brown and rainbow trout are the most common fish in the park.
The Aberdare forest’s bird life is abundant and diverse. There are over 250 bird species in Aberdare National Park. Sunbirds, goshawks, fish eagles, and the Aberdare cisticola are among the most common birds.
Riding on horseback in a beautiful sanctuary teeming with wildlife is the ideal adventure for any romantic or nature lover. Horseback safaris capture the romance of a safari in the country.
The Kikuyu are the people who live closest to the park. These people believe that these mountains are among the dwellings of their god (Ngai). The Kikuyu named this area Nyandarua meaning drying hide because of the numerous distinctive folds.
There are many safari lodges and campsites that offer excellent services in Aberdare National Park. These range from luxury accommodation to mid-range as well as budget options.
By Road: The Park is about 160km north of Nairobi. The drive from Nairobi takes about 3 hours.
By Air: The nearest airstrip to the park is Mweiga Airstrip along Nyeri – Nyahururu road. One can also use the Nanyuki airstrip. Nanyuki is 20 km Northeast of the park.
The best times to visit Aberdare are January and February and June through September. During the rainy season from March through May, the roads are impassable.
The wet season is the best time for perfect bird watching when birds in the park are at their peak.
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