The Aberdares is a mountain range which thrusts directly north from Nairobi for more than 160 km. Part of the range is protected as the Aberdares National Park and encompasses all land over 3200m together with a projection due east, known as the Salient, which reaches down to 2130 m near Nyeri town.
Aberdares National Park is a fairyland, awesome in its majesty and beauty. But crossing these mountains is an unpredictable event since rain is both frequent and heavy.
Elephants in Aberdare National Park
The Aberdares national Park was named after the then President of the Royal Geographical Society by the intrepid Scot, Joseph Thomson, who explored the region in 1883. The Kikuyu name Nyandarua is slowly gaining prominence. The Aberdare National Park was created in 1950 to protect the forested slopes and moors of the Aberdare Mountains and the wildlife therein.
The park has elephant, lion, rhino, black leopard and the beautiful but elusive bongo antelope, and is often part of a bigger safari itinerary that takes in the Masai Mara, Samburu National Reserve and Amboseli National Park.
Two main lodges are some of the main attractions of the Aberdares. Both Treetops and The Ark are built above the ground beside floodlit waterholes with salt licks. Visitors must book in advance and cannot make their own way to the lodges in private vehicles. Instead check-in is at the Aberdare Country club for The Ark and the Outspan Hotel for Treetops, from where guests are bussed to their respective lodges.
Ark Lodge – Aberdare National Park
Treetops is one of Kenya’s most famous hotels – this is where British Princess Elizabeth was informed that she had become Queen in 1952 on news of her father’s death. The Ark, however, offers better game viewing, especially at night. Nocturnal game viewing is taken so seriously round these parts that there is a bell in each room which sounds if an unusual animal turns up at the waterhole. Elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and bushbuck are regular visitors. The hotel is reached via a gangway which takes you to the level of the forest top.
Aberdares National Park – Giant Forest Hog