Aberdare National Park is a high altitude park that was created to protect the moorland and slopes of the Aberdare Mountains. The park is located about 100 km north of Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrain at altitudes from 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers 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 metres (13,000 ft) above sea level, to their deep, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Moorland, bamboo forests and rainforests are found at lower altitudes.
The Park is most famous as the place where Princess Elizabeth found out that she was Queen upon the death of her father at Treetops Lodge. Since then this lodge has been popular with tourists on safari to Kenya. The park is also an ideal location for viewing Kenya’s birds and animals as well as for topography enthusiasts. One of the main attractions of this park is the Black Rhinos, which is an endangered species. Other wildlife that you can observe in this park includes Sykes Monkey, Baboons, Black and White Columbus Monkeys, African Lions, and Leopards. There are also over 250 bird species, including Plovers, Eagles, Hawks, Sunbirds, and Goshawks.
Apart from wildlife viewing, other activities you can indulge in include; picnics, walking, camping in the moorlands, and swimming in the river.
There are several gates to access the park. The gates located at Treetops, Ark, Ruhuruina, Wandare, and Kiandongoro are used by visitors coming from Nyeri. If you approach the park from Nyahururu, you should use the Shamata or Rhino Gate. Mutubio gate is perfect for visitors coming from Naivasha. There are two airstrips located near the Aberdare Headquarters at Nyeri and Mweiga.
Animals easily seen in this park include the Elephants, Leopards, Giant Forest Hogs, East African Wild Dogs, Waterbucks, Elands, Mountain Reedbucks, Bushbucks, Cape Buffalos, Duikers, Side-striped Jackals, Sunnis (Nesotragus Moschatus), Olive Baboons, Sykes Monkeys, and White and Black Columbus Monkeys.
Rare viewings include those of the Bongo, an elusive forest antelope that dwells in the bamboo forest, and the African Golden Cat. Animals such as the spotted and melanistic Serval Cats and the Elands can also be seen on higher grounds in the moorlands. The park is also home to the second largest herd of black rhino in Kenya. Bird viewing is a spectacular event, with over 250 bird species in the park. Click here to read more about Kenya Safari Animals and Wildlife.
The climate is cool misty and wet throughout the year, with an average temperature of between 21 degrees (70 F) to 23 degrees (73 F) during the day and 11 degrees (52 F) during the night during the dry season. From November to March, the average temperature varies from 21 degrees (70 F) to 25 degrees (77 F) during the day and 9 degrees (48 F) to 11 degrees (52 F) during the night.
The long dry season, which runs from July to October is the best time to visit the park. During the dry season, the animals gather around the remaining water holes, and thus, are easier to spot and view. The rainy season ( long rains from April to May and short rains from November to December ) isn’t an ideal time to visit the Aberdare National Park, although, it has its own advantages which you should consider when planning your trip. First, the vegetation changes into a deep rich green color and the beautiful colors of the flowers color the landscape. Second, some animals, especially the mammals such as the Antelopes, give birth during the rainy season and you can witness the first few hours of Aberdare’s newest arrivals.
Visitors to the Aberdare National Park can find different kinds of accommodation according to your preference and taste, ranging from the Ark, built like Noah’s Ark, to Treetops, a tree house lodge, and 8 special campsites, a public campsite in the moorland, and 3 self-help banda sites. Both Treetops and The Ark provide excellent nighttime wildlife viewing. Below is a simple list of some of the more outstanding accommodation in the park.
The Ark Lodge Exterior.
Typical room interior at Treetops Lodge.