Welcome to Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park, located in Central Kenya to the east of the East African Rift Valley, is a safari park which covers an area of more than 767 sq km and stretches across the higher areas of the Aberdare Mountain ranges. To the east, it is covered by the Aberdare Salient. Located at 18,29 m above sea level, the park is relatively low in altitude, but has been identified as a landscape park. A Kenya safari in Aberdare national park is an exciting safari and one that is very rewarding thanks to the many tourist attractions that are available at the park, which are one of the reasons why many tourists from all corners of the globe visit the park on a regular basis.
In general, the terrain features a wide variety of terrains with deep ravines that go along the slopes of the eastern and western forested part of the mountains. In addition to the Black Rhinos that are often sighted within this park, there are also baboons, sykes monkeys, white and black Colobus monkeys as well as leopards. The bamboo forests here are home to a number of rare species, including the lion, golden cat, as well as bongos, which are hard to find forest antelopes that live in the bamboo forests. On the verdant slopes of the Aberdare ranges, one can see a very large Mugumo (fig) tree that is very old; by simply looking at it, one can see that this tree has a very rich history that is best narrated by the people living in this region.
In addition to carving out crevices in the trunk of this tree, the Kenyan Mau Mau freedom fighters used these crevices as an undisclosed post office through which they handed messages to agents.There is a fig tree in front of the Kimathi Post Office which was eventually named after Dedan Kimathi, the Mau Mau leader Field Marshall who was the founder of the Mau Mau group. The Aberdare National Park is also well known for its old caves that served as hideouts for the freedom fighters during the Guerrilla Revolution against the British colonial power during the Guerrilla Revolution against Britain.
In this park, among other fascinating features are the Kinangop peak as well as the Ol Donyo Lesatima peak, the moorlands as well as the thickets of bamboo, deep ravines, Gura falls, rugged terrains, Karuru falls, rivers, Chania falls, streams as well as the Magura falls that are situated within the park.
Aberdare National park has a variety of habitats that are host to a variety of animals that include the African elephant herds, the huge forest hog, leopards, buffaloes, reed bucks, the black rhinoceros, hyenas, the bongo antelope, the warthog, the Genet cats, wild dogs, the elands, the Columbus monkey, the red duiker, the baboon, the Sykes monkey, among others, as well as a profusion of birds that live in this region. As one of the closest communities to the park, the Kikuyu people believe that these ranges are some of the places that their gods live, and they consider them among their homes. Originally named Nyandarua (which means drying hide in the native tongue), this area was named by the natives because of the numerous distinctive folds that can be found here. However, some of the early colonial settlers referred to these ranges as the White Highlands, due to the large number of European immigrants that settled here back in the 1920s, and this name was adopted by the British during this time period. These Kenya Aberdare ranges were renamed in 1884 after the then president of the Royal Geographic Society at the time, Lord Aberdare, an early explorer who had explored the area for the first time.
Discover Aberdare National Park
Explore Aberdare National Park
History of Aberdare National Park
Founded in May 1950, the Aberdare National Game Park is the result of a long-sighted decision to protect the Aberdare Mountains and the surrounding wildlife by establishing a national park. Rather than just being a park, it is a place where nature and history meet. Originally named Nyandarua (the drying hide), it was regarded as one of the home Ngai (Gods) by the Kikuyu and is believed to be the one who provides the home to Ngai (Gods). In 1884, the explorer Joseph Thompson renamed the range in honor of Lord Aderdare , President of the Royal Geographical Society, because of the distinctive folds of its silhouette.
In addition to being dubbed the ‘White Highlands’ because of the large number of European workers who settled there in the early part of the 20th century, the area also gained notoriety because of the decadent antics of the ‘Happy Valley set’ in the Wanjohi valley during that period.
During the 1950’s as well, the dense forests and the bamboo thickets were often the scene of much of the fighting between British forces and the Mau freedom fighters.
One of the most well-known sites in the area is the headquarters of Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the Mau uprising in the 1950s. During her Kenya Safari Vacation in the Aberdare National Park, Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom during her time in Kenya. Additionally, this park was also the spot where Hunter J.A. killed the rogue elephant of the Aberdare Forest that was roaming the area.
Wildlife in Aberdare National Park
Aberdare national park is a home of a high concentration of rhinoceros and other endangered species of wildlife, making it one of the most beautiful national parks in Kenya.
Aberdare national park is home to a wide variety of wildlife species, such as buffaloes, elephants, lions, bongo antelopes, bushbucks, bush pigs, warthogs, reedbucks, serval cats, elands, black rhinos, golden cats, stripe jackal, leopard, spotted genet, hyenas, giant forest hogs, black and white colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys among others.
It is this forest which is home to a number of species of antelope like Waterbucks, Duikers, the rare Suni and Bushbucks, as well as eland and zebras as well as a population of forest elephants.
In the higher moorlands of the Aberdare ranges there are a number of elephants and servals, and the salient area of the Aberdare national park is a corridor along which elephants migrate. The Aberdare national park is also home to several nocturnal animals like the giant forest hog and a large spotted genet that spend the night there.
BirdLife in Aberdare National Park
In addition to being home to over 250 species of birds, Aberdare national park is a must-visit destination for bird enthusiasts, as they can walk deep into the rainforest and bamboo forest, watching the birds for a considerable amount of time. Depending on where you stay, you may even be able to see birds while you are there. In the months of November, December, January, February, March, and up to April, birders have a lot of birds to watch since it is considered to be the nesting season and it is also the time when migratory birds are seen in the park as a result of the abundance of food available. A pair of binoculars, one thing, and a little bit of adventure are all that one needs for a fascinating and adventurous birding activity in Aberdare national park.
There are many bird species to look out for when you go birding in Aberdare National Park, including the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, the mustached green tinker bird, the African paradise flycatcher, the bar-tailed trogon, the cinnamon-chested beeeater, the Jackson’s francolin, crimson wing, African hawk, crowned eagle, African green pigeon Abyssinian, Jackson’s francolin, African thrush, Baglafecht weaver, Crowned hornbill, Hartlaub’s turaco,Greater blue-eared starling, White-faced Whistling Duck, Egyptian Goose, African Black Duck, Helmeted Guinea fowl, Jackson’s Francolin, Little Grebe, Speckled Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Dusky Turtle Dove, African Green-Pigeon, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Blue-headed Coucal, Pied Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Abyssinian Nightjar, Buff-spotted Fluff tail, Gray Crowned-Crane, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Jacana, Marabou Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, Long-tailed Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Black-headed Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night, African Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Secretary bird, Black-winged Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black Kite, Verreaux’s Owl Eagle, Speckled Mouse bird, Bar-tailed Trogon, Malachite Kingfisher, Giant and Pied Kingfisher, Rufous-crowned Roller, Yellow-romped Tinker bird, Green-backed Honeyguide, Mountain Gray Woodpecker, Lesser Kestrel, Red-fronted Parrot, African Black-headed Oriole, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Black-collared Apalis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Aberdare Cisticola, Mountain Yellow-Warbler, Lesser Striped Swallow and many more.
Vegetation Cover in Aberdare National Park
The vegetation of Aberdare national park thrills with the stunning ecosystem of different vegetation types that can be found within it, including Moorland, thick forests, bamboo forests, and rhododendrons.
There are a wide variety of wildlife species in these vegetation types, especially in the lower altitudes, which include Rhinos, Elephants, Giant Forest Hogs, Civet Cats, Duikers, Leopards, Antelopes, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Hyenas, Olive Baboons and a variety of monkey species.
Aberdare Mountain Ranges
The Aberdare national park, located in the southern part of the country, offers beautiful mountain ranges covered by moorland, bamboo forests, and rain forests, all of which make the park stunning and worth taking a hike in.
Aberdare National Park is home to many mountain ranges, of which the highest peak is Mount Santima, which is the highest peak in the park, followed by Mount Kinangop, Table Mountain, Martini Hill, Elephants, and Mount Chebuswa.The Aberdare mountain ranges were named by Joseph Thomas in the year 1884 after Lord Aberdare, who was the first to explore these mountains.
The Aberdare ranges are comprised of the following:
Amount Santima – the highest peak
Mount Kinangop – this is the second highest peak at 3,906 meters and situated on the southern end of the range
Chebuswa at 3364 meters
Table Mountain at 3791 meters
Martini Hill at 3698 meters and
Elephant at 3590 meters
A variety of monkeys and bird species inhabit the Aberdare ranges of the Aberdare mountain ranges, as well as rainforests, dense bamboo forests and moorland that provide habitat for animals such as antelopes, a variety of monkeys, and many types of birds.
There is a range of Aberdare ranges in Kenya that are important to the local Kikuyu people who refer to the ranges as Nyandarua – meaning drying hide – due to the distinctive folds of their silhouette. On the west side of the ranges, there is a range that falls down steeply into the Kinangop plateau. It appears that the slopes on the east of the range are more gentle than on the west, and the Lake Naivasha and Mau Escarpment can both be seen from the apex of the range.
Waterfalls in Aberdare National Park
In the Aberdare national park, one of the iconic features of the park are the majestic waterfalls plunging from cloud-covered heights and rushing into the ravines. One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park is the Karuru waterfall, which is considered as the main waterfall of the park. The Karuru waterfalls consists of three steps: the first step is a height of 117 meters, the second step is a height of 26 meters, and the third step is a height of 130 meters.
In addition to the Gura waterfall, which is located opposite the Karuru waterfall, Magura waterfall, which cascades across the yawning mouth of the Queen’s Cave, is another impressive waterfall in the Aberdares National Park. The majestic waters of Aberdares national park are accessed via the Mutubio West Gate, which is approximately 8 kilometers away from the Waterfall lookout point from which a breathtaking view of the falls can be obtained. The hike to the falls takes about 20 minutes through the forest. As you hike through the forest, you will see the waterfalls.
Cultural Sites and Historical Sites
The Aberdare national park is a great site for cultural and historical significance, making it a perfect destination for Kenya cultural safaris, as the park has a number of cultural and historical sites that you can visit within the park.
The hideout of Mau leader Dedan Kimathi
This hideout is a very significant site as it was used as a hideout for the leader of the Mau-Mau rebellion Dedan Kimathi during the struggles for Kenya’s independence. This hideout is located between Honi Campsite and Elephant Ridge, a mountain range that was used as a base for Dedan and his companions to stay in.
A long time ago, the Mau-Mau fighters were en route to Burma to fight in the Second World War. While they were in Burma, they learned how to use ropes of jungle welfare during their stay in Burma.
There is a gigantic Mugumo fig tree that occupies a significant place in the Aberdares national park which is situated on the slopes of the Aberdare ranges. This tree is extremely old and possesses a fascinating history which is best narrated by the locals within the communities that surround the park.
The Kenyan Mau freed fighters used to carve crevices in the trunk of this tree when they were in rebellion, so they were able to use it as an undisclosed post office, which they used to pass on messages through agents during the period of the Mau-Mau rebellion. In honor of Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the Mau Mau rebellion, this tree has been named Kimathi Post Office, and the park is well known for the old caves used as hideouts by freedom fighters who rallied against the British colonialists during the last Guerrilla War against them.
The Kikuyu local community
Within the Aberdare national park there are communities of the Kikuyu people, and the Kikuyu people believe that the Aberdare mountains are one of the places where Ngai, their god, lives. It was first called Nyandarua, which literally means dried hide, by the locals because of the numerous distinct folds found here.
Best time to visit Aberdare National Park
Despite the fact that Aberdare National Park is accessible throughout the year, the best time to visit Aberdare National Park is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February.
This is the time of year when there is less rainfall in the park. As a result, the access roads to Aberdare National Park will be passable during this time of year, and there will also be less mud on the hiking trails than during the rainy season, when the trails are muddy and slippery.
A park with short grass will be evident during the dry season, which will make it easy for you to be able to see the wild animals clearly during this period.
Weather and Climate of Aberdare National Park
The weather is normally defined as the state of the atmosphere at a particular location and time as it pertains to heat, cloudiness, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain and a number of other factors.
The weather of the Aberdare national park is described and explained in the following way; In the case of Aberdare national park, a number of six factors are considered to determine the weather conditions, including air temperature, air pressure, humidity, amount and type of cloud cover, amount and kind of precipitation, wind speed and direction. These factors are considered to determine the weather conditions in any given place for example in the Aberdare national park.
There is a wide variation in altitude between the Aberdares, from 1,952 to 3,894 meters (6,404 to 12,776 feet). In Aberdare National Park, you can expect the temperature to drop by around 6.50C for every 1,000 meters (or 3.50F for every 1,000 feet) of elevation, so even here there is a wide range of climatic conditions. The climate is usually cool and misty. As much as 3,000 millimeters of rain fall on the southeast regions of the country every year, resulting in a heavy rainfall pattern all year long. Considering the fact that this region is quite close to the equator, there is a pretty uniform temperature throughout the year. It is therefore imperative to wear warm and waterproof clothing in order to stay warm and dry.
During the course of the year, there are two different seasons that are received within the Aberdare national park, which encompasses the whole year round
Dry season (June to September)
Despite the dry season in the Aberdare national park, there are still a lot of rains during the dry season. At this time of year, temperatures range from 150/590F in the afternoons to a few degrees above freezing in the early mornings because it is the coldest time of year.
June and July. There is a lot of sunshine, but it is possible to have rain at any time of the day. In the afternoon, the average temperature is 150 degrees Celsius/590 degrees Fahrenheit. Wearing warm and waterproof clothing is recommended as it will keep you warm in the winter.
August and September. Rainfall increases slightly in August and temperatures are picking up a little in September as well. The afternoon temperatures can reach as high as 160C/610F in the afternoon.
Wet Season (October to May)
Despite the fact that the wet season runs from October to May, there is a drier period between December and February that separates the ‘short rains’ from the ‘long rains’. There are often overcast, cloudy days, and there are times when it rains heavily for a long period of time.
October and November. Rains are usually short in duration; they usually increase sometime during the month of October. The temperature in the afternoon will be around 170 degrees Celsius/630 degrees Fahrenheit.
December, January and February. During the short rains there is a period when there is less rain than during the long rains. Despite the fact that the exact timing is difficult to predict, there will still be some wet days in the near future. During this time of year, temperatures often reach up to 180C/640F in the afternoons, which is the warmest time of year.
March, April and May. ‘Long rains’; April is the wettest month. The weather is usually wet, but it doesn’t always last throughout the day. It is possible for the tracks to become slippery and difficult to navigate as a result. In the early mornings, the temperature is a bit warmer, averaging 50C/410F on an average.
Campsites in Aberdare national park
For travelers looking for a camping experience while on a Kenya safari in Aberdare national park.
The Public Campsites in Aberdare National Park include Reedbuck , Shamata , Wandaris and many more which offerdifferent facilities to toursits.
Accommodations in Aberdare National Park
The Aberdare national park has a wide selection of accommodations where you can stay during your safari if you wish. There are a variety of lodges in the park ranging from luxury accommodations to midrange accommodations to budget accommodations.
These include The Ark, Aberdare Country Club, Treetops Lodge, Aberdare Cottages and Fishing Lodge, Tusk Camp Banda, Campsites, Sapper hut among others.
Getting to Aberdare national park
In order to access Aberdare, tourists can enter through several different entrance gates, which include: Treetops gate, Rhino gate, Ark gate, Kiandogoro gate, Shamata gate, Ruhuruini gate, Mutubio gate, as well as Wanderis gate.
In the central part of Kenya, Aberdare national park is found north of Nairobi, and the park can be accessed by both air and road transport because it lies in the middle of the country
By Road :
It takes approximately 2 or 3 hours to travel 160km from Nairobi to get to the national park when using road transportation. Getting to the airport in Nairobi requires you to fly, and then you have to connect by road through the Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta international airport, where you will drive along a tarmac road. It has a number of gates, such as Shamata or rhino gate, which can be accessed from Nyahururu and Mutubio gate, which can be accessed from Naivasha.
As far as air transport is concerned, you will book scheduled or chartered flights from Wilson airport, which is located in the southern part of Nairobi, to the airstrips at Mweiga and Nanyuki, and then connect to the park headquarters by road. The park can be reached by a number of domestic airlines, such as Airkenya, Safarilink and others, that operate flights to and from the area. Domestic flights can be booked through a trusted Kenya Tour operator if you want to fly into the Aberdare national park.