Aberdare National Park is located in central Kenya just 150 kilometers away from the capital city Nairobi. The park is found in the middle of Aberdare mountain ranges in the Eastern part of the East African Great Rift Valley. The park is located in the higher altitude in higher areas of the Aberdare Salient. The park altitude ranges from 2,000 meters to 4,000 meters above sea level. Aberdare National Park was established in 1950 covering an area of 767 square kilometers that includes part of the Aberdare Mountain ranges. This is one of the National Parks in Kenya that attract quite a number of tourists to come to Kenya for the Kenya Tours.
Aberdare rocks are isolated volcanic ranges that are part of the Eastern wall of the great rift valley running around 100 kilometers North-South in the middle of Nairobi and Thompsons falls. The park lies in a cool high mountainous area with the great scenic beauty of the savannahs that are mixed with Acacia trees and on the other side with Bamboo forest and rainforests at the floor of the mountains. Due to the high altitude of the park, it gives it unique climatic conditions which are cooler than any other part of Kenya.
The park is famous for the African big 5 which rare black Leopards also found at the park. Other big 5 include large herds of Elephants, Lions, Buffalos and rare black Rhinos which are shy and hard to sport. It is out of this background that the park is not considered as a good place for the African big 5 spot. The waterfalls also play a great role as a key attraction at the park where guests go for sightseeing and adventure.
How to get to Aberdare national park
Aberdare national park is located around 150 kilometers away from the capital city Nairobi along the busy tourist route that leads to Lake Nakuru and Naivasha national park. It is 87 kilometers away from Naivasha town, the park can be accessed along Nyeri and Naro Moru high way. The most common means of transport is road transport, though, the park has two airstrips located near Aberdare headquarters at Nyeri and another one at Mweiga. The drive is more scenic and interesting passing through small towns viewing the features of the mighty great rift valley. We have more stops on the way as we head to the park, enjoy locals with all the local markets and craft shops en route.
One drives through the smooth tarmac road that cuts across the park on the lower slopes up to the moorlands that later passes and joins the road that comes from Naivasha on the western side. The park headquarters is only around 15 kilometers away from nearby Nyeri Town along Nayhururu road.
Attractions at Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park has more unique attractions that are found inside the valley lying park. The attractions range from the most scenic waterfalls to the wide range of wildlife found at the park. The open savannah vegetation dotted with Acacia trees alongside the Bamboo forests that are found at the mountain ranges of the park.
The following are attractions at the park:
- Wildlife/ animals: The Aberdare national park is gifted by nature and is among the few parks not only in Kenya but entire Africa where one can access all the African big 5 in one place. The size of the park is small compared to large parks like Tsavo west and Tsavo East National parks. Though the park is small but it’s a home of a wide range of animals like Lions, Black Leopards, Black Rhinos, Elephants and Buffalo. Other games include Giant Forest Hog, Golden cat, Reedbuck, bushbuck, zebras, hyena, monkeys, bongo, African wild cat among others.
- Karuru waterfalls: Karuru falls is a three-step falls that is found in the middle of the Aberdare mountains. The falls are more magnificent with 1st step at 117 meters, the second step at 26 meters and lastly the longer step which takes 130 meters. Other waterfalls at the park include Chania waterfalls and many other smaller falls.
- Aberdare mountain ranges: They are not hard to hike but provide very scenic and unique views at the park This ranges and other features of the rift valley live valleys mix up with the walls that make the high ranges at the park.
- Birds: Aberdare national park has over 290 recorded bird species, the mixture of different vegetation zoning at the park makes a home of a wide range of birds. The birds range from the open savannah species to the forest bird species.
- Forests: Both the Bamboo and the rainforests at the park are home of different forest tree species and this attracts not only leisure tourists but researchers.
Activities in Aberdare national park
The wildness experience when someone engages in these Kenya tours to Aberdare is the most exciting and more popular than most of the parks around Kenya. Historically the park was the place where Princess Elizabeth found the news that her father has died and she is now princess when she was in the treetops lodge.
- Game viewing: You will never be disappointed with Aberdare national park as one can view all the African big 5. The park is a home of permanent residents like Hyenas, Lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, monkeys and many more. Game drives are rewarding mostly in the morning hours when the animals are very active and enjoy chill weather. In the afternoon especially late in the evening game drives are also good as the animals come out especially the shy animals like leopards, Rhinos and others to catch up with the food of their day.
- Birding: With over 290 bird species, birding in Aberdare national park is more rewarding and enjoyful. The birders prefer going to this park for rarer bird species that are found at the park. It is no doubt that walking along the bamboo forests and the rain forests looking for the birds in the forest as we encounter other forest animals while on our walks like forest hog, Forest Elephants, Duiker, waterbuck, and others. The common bird species include the sparry hawk, eagles, plovers, sunbirds, goshawks, francolin, Cisticola, and others.
- Visiting the waterfalls: One can also take time to visit the three-step Kiruru waterfalls and other small waterfalls found at the park. There are several scenic views at the park that are enjoyful.
Best time for game viewing at Aberdare national park
The Aberdare national park which is covered by highlands and dense bamboo forests is a captive of more travelers to Kenya visited all year round. Climatic conditions of the year can be taken into consideration to some little extent but have little impact on the daily activities in the park. The best recommended time is during the dry season where the animals are easily viewed along with the water catchment areas at the park. Wondering t get the best of Aberdare national park wildlife experience or want to combine it with other nearby parks like Naivasha and Lake Nakuru then well planning and timing is paramount.