Aberdare National Park
Aberdare national park is located in central Kenya 164 km from Nairobi. The Aberdare national park is part of Aberdare mountain range. The national park was gazetted as a national park in 1950 mainly to offer refuge to wildlife and the Aberdare mountain range. Aberdare park sits between the elevation of 2000metres and 4000metres above the sea level and covers a total land area of 766 square kilometers which is comprised of moorland, bamboo forests, deep V-shaped valleys intersected by rivers, waterfalls, streams, rainforests among others. The park was named after Aberdare mountain range which is an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern arm of the rift valley that extends up to 100km north-south Nairobi.
Attractions in Aberdare national park
Wildlife, Aberdare national park is a home of high concentration of rhinos and other endangered wildlife species which make it an incredible national park in Kenya. some of the wild animals in the park include buffaloes, elephants, lions, bongo antelopes, bushbucks, bush pigs, warthogs, reedbucks, serval cats, elands, black rhinos, golden cats, stripped jackal, leopards, spotted genet, hyenas, giant forest hogs, black and white colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys among others.
Birds, Aberdare park is a home of over 290 bird species including the endemic species which are only found in Kenya hence making the park one of the best birding destinations in Kenya. Bird species in the Aberdare national park include hartlaubs turaco, rare scarlet tufted malachite, African thrush, crowned hornbill, bar tailed trogon, golden winged sunbird, African yellow warbler, African green pigeon, African goshawk, crowned eagle, moorland francolin, olive ibis, silvery cheeked hornbill, mountain buzzard, Jackson’s francolin among others.
Waterfalls, Aberdare national park is a home of magnificent waterfalls including Chania waterfalls, Karuru waterfall which falls in three steps with the first one at 117metres, second one at 26metres and the third one at 130metres which make a total of 273metres, Gura falls, Magura falls and many others.
Top things to do in Aberdare national park
Hiking is an exciting and adventurous activity in Aberdare park. There are various mountain peaks in the park which offer hiking safaris for example elephant hill hike which stands at 3720 meters above the sea level and is a 26 km hike. During the elephant hill hike you will be able to view various animals, Sasamua dam, Ndakaini dam. You can also hike Ol Doinyo Satima Mountain which stands at an elevation of 4000 meters above the sea level. Mount Satima which is also known as the mountain of the young bull was named after an explorer joseph Thompson and it’s the highest peak in the Aberdare range. Hiking to Satima peak gives you magnificent views of the rift valley, Mount Kenya, wildlife species among others. Due to its elevation hiking Satima peak needs one to have warm clothes because it gets cold as you hike to the summit which takes about 5 hours round hike trip. There are other mountains like Kinangop which is located in the south and Kipipiri Mountain which is located in the west of the mountainous moorlands.
Game drives in Aberdare national park
This is one of the exciting and most done activities in the park. game drives in Aberdare park can either be done on a half day or full day following trails like the salient zone where you will have clear views of animal species such as black rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, spotted hyenas, leopards, black and white colobus monkeys, bushbucks, elands, bongo antelopes, giant forest hogs among others. During the game drive you will also be able to view waterfalls like Karuru which flows into three steps, Magura falls, Chania falls and have spectacular views of scenery, vegetation, mountain streams, hills among others.
Aberdare park is one of the best destinations for trout fishing in that there are three rivers which offer easy access to fishing including Chania, Gura and Ambone rivers. Trout fishing in the park is done by the help of an experienced guide who will show you how to fish and areas where to fish from. During trout fishing you are required to have fishing gears and a fishing license which can be obtained at the park headquarters.
Aberdare national park is among the listed birding destinations in Kenya in that it harbors over 290 bird species including endemic species which are only found in Kenya and near endemic species which are also found in the neighboring countries. on your birding safari in the park, you should look out for bird species like African paradise flycatcher, Aberdare cisticola, African green pigeon, Jackson’s francolin, hunters cisticola, golden winged sunbird, crowned eagle, mountain buzzard, white headed wood hoopoe, silvery cheeked hornbill, Sharpe long claw, rufous chested sparrowhawk, olive ibis, narina trogon, tambourine dove, emerald green malachite sunbird, double collared sunbird among others. Birding in Aberdare national park can either be done during the guided nature walk or the game drive.
Where to stay in Aberdare national park
There are a wide range of accommodations where you can stay on your safari in Aberdare national park. The lodges in the park range from luxury, midrange, budget and they include the Ark, Aberdare Country Club, Treetops Lodge, Aberdare Cottages and Fishing Lodge, Tusk Camp Banda, Campsites, Sapper hut among others.
Best time to visit Aberdare national park
Aberdare national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this time there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads to Aberdare national park will be passable, hiking trails in the park will be dry and passable compared to the rainy season when the trails are muddy and slippery. During the dry season there will be short grass in the park which enables you to clearly view the wild animals.
How to get to Aberdare national park
Aberdare national park is located in central Kenya, north of Nairobi and can be accessed by both road and air transport means
When using road transport the national park is located 160km from Nairobi which takes about 2 to 3 hours’ drive therefore you will fly to Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi and then connect by road where by you will drive on a tarmac road and the park has various gates like Shamata or rhino gate which can be accessed when you are coming from Nyahururu and Mutubio gate which can be accessed when coming from Naivasha.
When using air transport you will book scheduled or chartered flights from Wilson airport which is located in the southern part of Nairobi to Mweiga or Nanyuki airstrips and then connect to the park headquarters by road. There are several domestic airlines which operate flights to the park for example Airkenya, Safarilink among others. Booking of domestic flights to Aberdare national park can be done through a tour operator.