If you’re looking to see the second largest herd of endangered black rhinos, an Aberdare safari is the best bet.
Aberdare National Park is situated in the Aberdares – an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern wall of the Rift Valley. It is 100km long and runs from Nairobi to Thompsons Falls.
Unlike the Maasai Mara, Samburu and Amboseli, this range is significantly cooler and an Aberdare safari will give you a whole new perspective.
The park is nestled above the tree line in Central Kenya and its landscape varies from mountain peaks to V-shaped valleys that are intersected by rivers, streams and waterfalls. The lower levels are however farmed.
You can find moorland, rainforests and bamboo forests at lower altitudes. It’s the country’s most elevated national park.
Before the Europeans came to Central Kenya, the Aberdare ranges were called ‘Nyandarua’, the Kikuyu word for drying hide. When you look at the ranges closely, you will notice that they look like a spread out animal hide.
The Kikuyu tribe regards it as one of the home of God. It is believed that the Kikuyu’s first family originated from a wild fig tree at the foothills of these ranges near Murang’a. In 1884, they were named after Lord Aberdare, the then president of the Royal Geographical Society.
These ranges are the water catchment area for Sasumua and Ndakaini dams which provide most of the water for Nairobi residents.
The Aberdares National Park has a rich history. Princess Elizabeth became queen of the UK while staying at the Treetops Lodge and the area served as the 1950’s headquarters of the Mau Mau fighters. General Dedan Kimathi’s hideout is a much-visited attraction.
Today, it receives a lot of attention from those who wish to protect the endangered black rhino which has motivated participants of the annual Rhino Charge Motor race.
It splits into the high moorland and peaks and the lower Salient to the East. The latter has dense rainforest and more wildlife.
The Aberdare National Park’s climate is almost similar to that in Europe and has been described as ‘Scotland with lions’.
- Lesatima & Kinangop peaks
- Karuru waterfalls that fall into three steps
- Cape buffaloes
- Black rhino herd
- Giant forest hogs
- Golden & melanistic cats
- Sykes monkeys
- Jackson’s Francolin
- African gold headed eagle
- Alpine flora
- African wild cats
- Red duiker
- Camp in the moorlands
- Explore the bamboo forests where the Mau Mau hid during the fight for freedom
- Fish trout in the ice-cold Guru Karuru and Chania rivers
- Watch over 250 bird species
- Climb Elephant Hill and the Table Mountains
- Do nocturnal game viewing
- Wildlife photography
- Horse riding
Where to stay when at the Aberdares
- Treetops Tree House Lodge
- The Ark
- The Outspan Golf & Country Club
- The Fishing Lodge
- Tusk Camp Banda
- Sapper Hut
- Honi Campsite
- Kifaru Campsite
- Bill Woodley Campsite
- Muringato Campsite
- Prince Charles Campsite
- Aberdare Country Club
- Solio Lodge
- Giraffe Ark Game Lodge
Best time for an Aberdare Safari
You could have an Aberdares safari at any time of year. However, it is advisable to keep off during wetter months as the roads become impassable. The wettest months are March, April, May, October, November and December.
The park is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Entry is not allowed after 6:15 pm.
The park can be accessed in two ways:
- By road: You can access the park by tarmac road from Nyeri and Naromoru on the Eastern side or from Naivasha on the Western side. It takes about 4 hours to get to the park from Nairobi via Nyeri. The park is 15km from Nyeri town.
- By air: If you are travelling by a chartered aircraft, there is a good airstrip at Nyeri and Mweiga near Sasini Estate Farm and next to the park headquarters.
What to take with you on an Aberdare Safari
- Lightweight fleece or blanket
- Warm clothing
- Insect repellant
- Waterproof raincoat (If travelling during the rainy season)
- Antihistamines ( for insect bites)
Since the park is centrally located, you can include it in your customized safari itinerary to Lake Nakuru, Elementaita or Maasai Mara.
If Aberdares National Park is on your wish list, check out the Aberdare safari packages available or call an agent to customize your trip.