Aberdare National Park is a park situated about 100 km north of Nairobi and covers an area of just 766 km2 , stretching over a wide range of topography at altitudes from 2 000 m to 4 000 m. The Park, established in May 1950 to protect the Aberdare Mountains and immediate wildlife, forms part of the said mountain range.
Aberdare features a wide range of landscapes, from mountain peaks that rise to 4,300 m above sea level to the deep v-shaped valleys crisscrossed by streams and rivers that surge down via the striking waterfalls to the low levels holding the moorlands, the rainforests as well as the bamboo forests. The rich, red volcanic soil from the volcanic range of the Aberdare Mountains provides the essential growing environment for the indigenous woodland, and lies in complete contrast with both the woodland and the mountain’s craggy and striking crests.
Aberdare National Park is famed for being home to the second largest population of the endangered Black Rhino. It also plays host to a wide array of wildlife and these include the Cape Buffalo, the African Lion, Elephant, the East African Wild Dog, the Leopard, the Side-Striped Jackal, the Giant Forest Hog, the Eland, Duiker, Suni, Reedbuck, Bushbuck and Waterbuck, the Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, Sykes Monkey, the rare African Golden Cat and the Bongo.
The Park is also a birdwatcher’s haven with more than 290 bird species that can be sighted including the Mountain Buzzard, the Sunbird, Jackson’s Francolin, the Goshawks, Ayre’s Hawk Eagles, Plover, the endangered Aberdare Cisticola, the African Fish Eagle and more.
Aberdare can be accessed both by road and air. By road, one takes the A2 road out of Nairobi via Thika in Nyeri then the Nyeri-Nyahururu road out of Nyeri where the Ruhuruini, Arkand treetops gates are sign posted.
By air, one can take a scheduled chartered flight and there are two good airstrips for chartered aircrafts at Nyeri and Mweiga, next to the Aberdare National Park headquarters.
Aberdare National Park has a number of lodges that cater to the needs of every visitor while on safari in Africa. These include The Ark Tree Lodge, designed in the shape of Noah’s ark and offering the most stunning views in the Park, The Aberdare Country Club, set on the Mweiga Hill side in the Aberdare Mountains, one of the best accommodation facilities in the Park offering visitors any needed privacy whilst on a safari and The Outspan Golf and Country Club offering an impressive view of Mount Kenya.
Other great safari lodges and Campsites to choose from are the Treetops Lodge, a tree-house lodge, accessed via a gangway rising to treetop level, Sapper Hut with two beds and an outside bathroom, Aberdare Cottages, the Fishing Lodge with three bedrooms and two bathrooms to sleep seven guests and Tusk Camp Banda with bandas, or a thatched houses to sleep eight guests.
Best Time To Visit
Aberdare National Park can be visited at anytime of the year but individuals can decide to visit at different times according to what they need to experience. For visitors keen on game watching, January to March is the best time to visit the Park and for keen bird watchers, April to December is the ideal time to visit. In January and February as well as from June to September, Aberdare is the ideal place to visit over others as, given its altitude, it is a bit cooler than other savannah plains and parks.
Weather And Climate
The altitude of Aberdare controls the climate despite the Park being close to the equator and so it is cooler than the lower plains and coastal areas. It is also very foggy and wet all year round. March to May as well as October to December are the wettest months in Aberdare and during this time, roads in the Park are impassable.
Other Safety Considerations
Aberdare National Park is not entirely considered a malaria area because of its altitude but visitors are still urged to take necessary precautions since some visitors would be coming from or going to areas where Malaria is prevalent.