Aberdare National Park was established to protect the Aberdare Mountains in Kenya’s Central Highlands. It is the country’s most elevated national park and encompasses a rare combination of soaring peaks, a high altitude plateau with alpine moorland, and dense rainforest at the lower altitudes
The entire park is just perfect to explore on foot and attracts many adventurous hikers and trekkers each year. The less energetic have several other options including game drives and even excellent game viewing from the deck of one of the two forest lodges that have been strategically built around water holes and salt licks, to ensure an ever-present passing parade of wildlife
One of the most popular pursuits in the Aberdare NP is hiking through the Salient Forest, which is bisected by deep ravines and features some really spectacular waterfalls. This area has one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in Kenya ensuring an exciting and rewarding excursion. As you continue to climb through the forest you will reach a belt of bamboo woodland, which is the favourite haunt of the Bongo, a very rare type of forest antelope. Continuing your ascent you will soon reach the alpine moorland, which is criss-crossed by beautiful clear trout streams – the perfect place to stop for a picnic or to try your hand at some fly-fishing – fishing licences are available at the Lodges or at the KWS for US$20-30. One of the best hiking routes takes you to Kimanthi Hideout, also known as the Queens Cave, where you can stop for a picnic lunch.
Since you will be hiking inside a National Park that is home to potentially dangerous animals, you will need to be accompanied by an armed ranger. It will cost you US$20 to hire a KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services) ranger for a half-day hike, while a full day will cost US$40. The rangers are very knowledgeable about the park and will share a wealth of knowledge with you during the hike.
If you want a unique opportunity to see large mammals like elephants, lions, hyenas and rhinos really close-up, then stay in one of the two forest lodges in the park, built right next to the waterholes and saltlicks. Queen Elizabeth II was staying in one of these lodges in 1952 when she was informed of her accession to the throne. There are also huts and camp sites, both self-catering and “special”. Outside the park, there is a country club and some comfortable lodges in Mweiga and Nyeri.
Many visitors to Aberdare NP come here purely for the spectacular scenery. This is wild Africa as you imagine it existed centuries ago – a mystical and magical volcanic landscape featuring many tall cascading waterfalls, of which Chania, Karuru and Maragua are the most arresting. Karuru is especially dramatic, as it drops a total of 273mt in a series of 3 steps.
Aberdare is home to all of the Big Five, although finding them in the dense vegetation of the forest is a little more challenging than the open savannahs of some of the other Big Five parks. These are some of the animals you can expect to see, (providing that you give yourself enough time to seek them out – you would need several days in the park if you hope to cross them all off your list!)
This unique property is famous as the place where Princess Elizabeth ascended to the British Throne in 1952. Game is attracted by the saltlick and waterhole and with four spectacular viewing decks and a rooftop platform, it is the ideal place to capture incredible close-up photographs.
Aberdare is generally viewed as a year-round destination, but since hiking and walking are far pleasanter during the dry months, we suggest you come between June and September or January and February. Have a lovely day.