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Aberdare National Park covers an area of 767 square kilometers and is located in the Central Highlands east of the East African Rift Valley in Nyeri/ Nyandarua district. Located west of mountain Kenya the park is about 180 km from Nairobi. The Aberdare National Park was created in 1950 to protect the forested slopes and moors of the Aberdare Mountains.
The Park covers altitudes from about 7,000 feet to 14,000 feet above sea level. The Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 km2 and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range.
There is a wide range of landscapes – mountain peaks rising 14,000 above sea level, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. At lower altitudes moorland, bamboo forests, and rainforests.
The park provides a habitat for elephants, black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, buffalos, warthogs, and bushbucks among others. Rare sightings include those of the Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cat, African wild cat, African civet cat, and the blue duiker.
Bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson’s Francolin, Sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds, and plovers. Visitors can indulge in game viewing, trekking, mountain climbing, hiking, picnics, bird watching, photography and trout fishing in the rivers, and camping in the moorlands.
Aberdare National Park is famous for its Tree-House Hotels like Treetops and Ark Tree Lodge. With walkways and accommodation raised into the forest canopy, you can watch animals from a unique vantage point. Positioned by waterholes and natural salt licks, animals provide constant entertainment and seem undisturbed by the stream of curious visitors, some of whom stay up all night to catch sightings of shy animals by floodlight.
There is even a viewing hide dug below ground with windows level with the waterhole, where elephants fee come within inches of your face. Aberdare National Park Safari into the treetop lodges is quite unique as all the rooms have a bell system to wake you up for particularly good sightings, whereupon you can go to the viewing decks or just peer out of your window.
For example, a leopard may warrant two rings, while a hyena might only get one ring. Elephants dominate the waterholes and salt licks and when the lions and hyenas want a drink they have to contend with elephants seeing them off at great speed. Leopards are shy and are best seen under the nighttime floodlight.
Aberdare National Park game drives or walks through the forest may reveal some of the monkeys for whom this is ideal habitat, and some of the many birds found here. At about 10,000 feet (3,048m), the bamboo thickets are the favorite haunt of the bongo, a rare and elusive forest antelope.
Aberdare National Park Wildlife
Aberdare National Park’s cool climate, pervading mists, cold rivers, streams, and unique vegetation create a paradise for distinct and unique wildlife species, some of these are very rare animal species such as the African golden cat and Bongo a giant antelope.
Other residents of the park are the large herds of elephants over 2,000 in number, East African wild dog, African civet cat, bushbuck, Golden cat, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, cape buffalo, side-striped jackal, jackal, eland, giant forest hog, warthogs, olive baboon, black and white colobus monkeys, blue duiker, sykes monkeys, common zebra (North Aberdare), red duiker, and suni.
Sightings of spotted hyenas, bush pigs, serval cats, and on occasions the elusive black leopard are common in this park, the lion is also present here but not often spotted.
Animals like the melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands. The Aberdare National Park also contains the second largest population of the Black Rhino, unique to Kenya.
Endemic species include The Aberdare Mole-shrew and Aberdare Mole-rat, and the Montane Viper (which occurs only here and on Mount Kenya).
The Aberdare National Park’s prolific birdlife features over 250 recorded bird species which include the endangered Aberdare cisticola, Jackson’s spurfowl, sparrow hawk, African goshawk, and African fish eagles, sunbirds, and plovers.
In the cool glades of the park, you may see raptors such as buzzards and the African crown eagle, butterflies are plentiful as well, especially in the two major environments of the park – the forests and the moorlands.
Apart from wildlife, Aberdare National Park inhabits magnificent waterfalls with the main ones being Karuru waterfalls which fall in three steps of 117, 26, and 130meters, making a total of 273meters high, Chania waterfalls and many other smaller ones in addition to many ridges and river valleys which create beautiful sceneries that usually attract scenery photographers.
2022 Aberdare National Park Entrance Fees
Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
|Adult||500 Kenya Shillings||60 US Dollars|
|Child||215 Kenya Shillings||20 US Dollars|
* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and SouthSudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours
Aberdare National Park Activities
Spectacular waterfalls & Trout Fishing
The Park is renowned for its torrential waterfalls plunging from cloud-shrouded heights to spray-filled ravines. They include The Gura Waterfall, the most precipitous fall in Kenya, which cascades 300m into an impenetrable ravine, the spectacularly lovely Karura Falls, the Chania Falls, and the Magura Falls and Queen’s Cave.
Both brown and rainbow trout abound in the cool mountain streams and provide excellent angling. You can also do cave fishing as well as get to see lots of wildlife. (A sports fishing license is required and can be obtained from the Park gates).
Trout were introduced into Kenya before the First World War but it was not until the 1930’s that extensive stocking got underway. Kenyan trout exhibit a very rapid growth rate and rainbows weighing up to 10 lbs have been caught. The best fishing areas are generally found above the 2,000 m level where the sparkling rivers drop down through mountain forests and open glades.
You will also generally find that the higher the altitude, the smaller the fish. Recommendation: Three rivers offering especially easy access and fine fishing within the Park are: the Amboni, the Chania, and the Gura.
Activities include some of the best hiking trails in East Africa, fishing, nature walks, forest wildlife spotting, and birding.
Game drives (Day & Night Game drives)
Game viewing: Aberdare national park is considered one of the best Kenya parks for wildlife viewing safaris with a good number of viewing spots that enable tourists to have a glance at a lot of wildlife species such as Big 5 game (Lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, giraffes), antelopes, elands, waterbucks, forest hogs, baboons, monkeys and several species of birds.
The best viewing spots are near the water bodies such as streams, waterfalls, and rivers, where several mammals are seen drinking water, in forests where you will encounter primates such as baboons and monkeys, and in the moorland areas where several grazing mammals are seen.
The best way to view the wildlife in Aberdare national park is by taking up a game drive as the park offers both morning game drives for an opportunity to encounter the nocturnal mammals, hunters, and other mammals that arise very early in the morning to graze, full day game drive and evening game drive all offering an unforgettable experience. You may also opt for a walk on all well-designated trails to watch the wildlife.
Hiking: Aberdare national park offers the best hiking adventures via the forest and moorlands to visit different attractions within the park such as Waterfalls, mountain ranges, and many other unique tourist attractions. During the hike, travelers are blessed with a clear view of the park with all its unique fauna and flora species.
Walk to the waterfalls
The magnificent waterfalls in this park are an adventure that tourists can explore on their adventure, a visit to Karuru and chain waterfalls will give you an exciting yet adventurous experience along with intimate nature walks in the moorlands while you admire the beauty of stunning Lesatima and Kinangop peaks at their glimpse
Bird watching: Being home to over 250 species of birds, Aberdare national park is a true destination for bird lovers as they get an opportunity to trail deep into the rainforest and bamboo forest to spend ample time watching the birds. Birds can even be seen while at your hotel.
From the Months of November, December, January, February, and March up to April, birders have a lot of birds to watch as it’s considered to be the nesting season and it’s the same time when migratory birds are seen in the park due to existence of a lot of food to feast on.
All one requires is a pair of binoculars and another thing for an adventurous and fascinating birding activity in Aberdare national park. Some of the bird species to look out for include; African fish eagle, spurfowl, plovers, sunbirds, hornbills, African thrush, Starlings, Ibis, Jackson’s francolin, and many more.
Aberdare National Park Seasons
Best Time to visit the park
Aberdare National Park is accessible all year round, but the best times to visit are January and February and June through September. During the rainy season from March through May and the short rains of October to December, the roads are impassable and adventure is quite challenging due to the park’s high elevation which makes it receive a high amount of rain.
The climate is cool, misty, and cloudy with heavy rain for much of the year. Precipitation varies from around 1,000 mm per annum on the drier north-western slopes to as much as 3,000 mm per annum in the southeast. Daytime temperatures are pleasant year-round but it gets colder day and night during the dry winter months.
* April – June – hot and wet (long rains)
* November – December – warm and wet (short rains)
* January – March – hot and dry
* July – October – cool and dry with very cold nights
Aberdare National Park Facts
* Located about 100 km north of Nairobi
* Home to two famous lodges: The Ark and Treetops
* Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park
* Set at altitudes from 2,100m to 4,300m above sea level
* Moorland, bamboo forests, and rain forests are found at lower altitudes
* Covers an area of 766 square kilometers with the mountain peaks that rise to 4300 m
* Game viewing includes; African elephant, black rhino, leopard, spotted hyena, olive baboon, black and white colobus monkey, Sykes monkey, Cape buffalo, warthog, common zebra (North Aberdare), bushbuck, and reedbuck. Rare sightings include Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cat, African wild cat, African civet cat, blue duiker
* The park has magnificent waterfalls with the main one being Karuru Waterfalls which fall in three steps: the first step 117m, the second step 26m, and the third 130m, making a total of 273m
* Bird viewing is rewarding with about 290 recorded bird species, including the Aberdare Cisticola which is critically endangered, and Jackson’s francolin, which is regionally endemic, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds, and plovers
Aberdare National Park Accommodation
Aberdare National Park offers visitors accommodation in three categories; Safari tree lodges, Self-catering, and Campsites. Click the link below to access the hotels inside and around the park.
* Fishing Lodge Guest House | Click Here
* Tusk Camp Cottage Banda | Click Here
* Sapper Hut Banda Guest House | Click Here
* Nyeri & Aberdare Hotels | Click Here
The campsites allow visitors to explore the environment and visitors are recommended to carry with them firewood to keep warm at night. Some of the popular campsites include; Mringato (M1), Kiguru (K1), Prince Charles, Kifaru (K2), Queen Beatrix (M5), Bongo (M2, Nyati (M3), Honi Campsite, and Reedbuck-at The Moorland.
How to access Aberdare National park | Roads
Aberdare National Park lies 160km northeast of Nairobi and can be accessed by both Air and Road, by road, visitors can take the route out of Nairobi via Thika in Nyeri or Naru Moru to the park’s eastern entrances. By air – There are two airstrips located near the Aberdare Headquarters at Nyeri and Mweiga.
There is also another route that connects to the western side entrances from Naivasha about 87 km in the rift of the valley through mountain terrains, the park has 5 entrance gates through which visitors can use which include the ark and treetops gates excellent areas for game viewing, Kiandagoro, shamata, Mutubio, and Ruhurni gates.
On the other hand, you can fly to commercial airstrips like Nyeri and Mweiga next to the park headquarters using charter flights.
Roads: Crisscrossed by a network of red ‘murram’ dirt roads and featuring a number of steep, rocky sections the park can often become inaccessible, especially in the rainy season. 4WD vehicles are recommended.