The Aberdare National Park
majestic peaks, Moorlands and falls
Encircled by the wild and beautiful moorlands of the third highest mountain range in Kenya, this atmospheric Park offers a mist-wreathed realm where elephants roam through lichen-hung forests, spectacular waterfalls plunge into churning pools, and trout-ﬁlled streams cascade through mossy dells. A haven for anglers, walkers and lovers of solitude alike, it also offers matchless views of the glittering coronet of Mount Kenya and the sparkling lakes of the Great Rift Valley.
What to see
Enduring legacy of Kimathi ”Post Ofﬁce”
The park is also famous for the hideouts of freedom fighters, where Field Marshal General Dedan Kirnathi and his Mau Mau used the Mau Mau caves prior to independence. The Kimathi “post office”, where agents used to drop messages for Man Mau ﬁghters led by legendary Field Marshall General Dedan Kimathi in The Aberdare National Park and Mt Kenya forests.
A window on history
The Kikuyu believed it to be one of the homes of Ngai (God) and originally knew it as Nyandarua’ (the drying hide) due to the distinctive folds of its silhouette. In 1884, the explorer Joseph Thompson renamed the range after Lord Aberdare, the President of the Royal Geographical Society. Dubbed the ‘White Highlands’ because of the large numbers of Europeans who settled there in the 1920’s, the area also achieved notoriety due to the decadent antics of the ‘Happy Valley Set‘ of the Wanjohi Valley.
Also during the l950’s, the dense forests and bamboo thickets witnessed much of the action between British forces and the ‘Man Man’ freedom ﬁghters. The original ’”lreetops’ hotel feli under the spotiight of the world when the young Princess Eiizabeth descended its steps as Queen Elizabeth ll of England in 1952.
Herds of elephant against a mountain backdrop
The Pads provides a unique habitat for approximately two thousand elephants, which roam the clouded hills and misty glades and provide endless atmospheric viewing opportunities.
The Park is renowned for its torrential waterfalls plunging from cloud-shrouded heights to spray-ﬁlled ravines. They include the magniﬁcent Karuru Falls, which drop 300m, the impressive Gura Falls which torrent from the opposite side of the same gorge, the sheer drop of the Chania Fails, and the enchanting Magura Falls which cascade across the yawning mouth of the Queen’s Cave.
Mountain climbing, hiking and walking
Climbing the peaks of The Aberdare National Park doesn’t require you to be a mountaineer, as most of them can be conquered with little more than a strenuous high-altitude trek. Additionally, there are numerous panoramic moorland hikes and forest walks available. To walk, hike, or climb in the park, you need to obtain permission from the Warden and be accompanied by an armed KWS Ranger. You can book the services of the ranger by contacting the Warden, preferably in advance.
Excellent ﬁshing in the cool mountain streams
Both brown and rainbow trout abound in the cool mountain streams and provide excellent angling. You can obtain a sports fishing license at the Park gates.
Where to stay
The Ark, a unique day and night game-viewing lodge modelled on Noah’s Ark. Contact: Fairmont Hotels, PO Box 58581 (00100), Nairobi.
Tel: (Nairobi) +254 (20) 2216940, 250900. Fax: +254 (20) 250200, 253075
Tel: (Nyeri) +254 (61) 55620, 55017, Fax: +254 (61) 55224
The Aberdare Country Club, the access point for The Ark and an elegant country house hotel offering luxury accommodation and extensive facilities.
Contact: P0 Box 449, Nyeri. Tel: (Nairobi) +254 (20) 2216940, 250900
Fax: +254 (20) 250200, 253075 , Tel: (Nyeri) +254 (61) 55620, 55017
Fax: +254 (61) 55224, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Treetops, the world famous tree-house lodge. The Outspan Hotel, the access point for Treetops and a luxurious colonial-style hotel offering extensive facilities. Contact: Aberdare Safari Hotels, P0 Box 14815 (00800), Nairobi.
Tel (Nairobi) +254 (20) 4452095-9 , Fax: +254 (20) 4452102
Kiandongoro Fishing Lodge comprises 2 iarge stone-built, 3 bedroom cottages each offering: fully equipped kitchen (with gas stove and crockery), furnished sitting and dining area with log ﬁre, veranda, 2 double bedrooms (en suite with double bed and single bed) and l single bedroom. There is a caretaker and bedding, towels, kerosene lamps and hot water are provided. Reservations through the Warden or KWS HQ, Nairobi.
Sapper Hut (west of the Fishing Lodge), a basic wooden cabin offering: one bedroom (2 beds and mattresses only), sitting and dining area, log burning stove, veranda, pit latrine and wash hut. Visitors are supposed to carry their cooking equipments. Reservations through the Warden or KWS HQ, Nairobi.
Tusk Camp, a forest camp offering: 4 sleeping cabins (2 single beds each), ‘mess’ cabin with log ﬁre and veranda, kitchen with wood burning-stove (optional gas stove, cooking utensils and crockery are available) beddings, towels and bathroom. There is a caretaker and kerosene lamps are provided. Reservations through the Warden or KWS HQ, Nairobi.
Public campsites include: Reedbuck » offering communal mess hut, pit latrine and shower. Ruhuruini – pit latrine. Wandaris – no facilities. Shamata – no facilities. A selection of ‘special’ campsites (no facilities) are available and these must be booked in advance on an exclusive use basis (reservations through the Warden or KWS HQ, Nairobi).
When to go
The Aberdare National Park is accessible all year round however 4WD vehicles is recommended during heavy rains.
What to take with you
Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight.
Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, guidebooks, warm clothing (temperatures drop rapidly at night), walking boots, compass, and maps.
Altitude: 829-4,001 metres above sea level.
Area: 767 sq. km.
Location: (antral highlands west of Mount Kenya.
Distance from Nairobi: 180 km.
Gazetted: May T950.
Climate: Cool and cloudy with frequent heavy rain in March – June and September – December.
Vegetation: Rich alpine and sub-alpine ﬂora giving way to bamboo and montane forests.
Fauna Include; blue and colobus monkey, leopard, lion, elephant, warthog, black rhino, giant forest hog, bushbuck, buffalo, red duiker, suni, serval, reedbuck, eland and the rare bongo antelope.
Birds: The prolific bird life features 250 recorded species.
Fishing: The streams are well stocked with brown and rainbow trout.
Roads: The Park can often become inaccessible for 2WD vehicles after rain and 4WD vehicles are recommended.
Open: Daily 6.00am – 7.00pm. N01‘?! No entry is allowed on foot, and visitors will not be allowed into the Park after 6.l5pm.
Current entry charges: Obtainable via KWS HQ:
Tel: (Nairobi) +254 (0)20 600800, 602345, Fax: +254 607024
email: email@example.com, website: www.kws.go.ke
‘Safaricard’ required? Entry is by safaricard only. Safaricards maybe loaded (but not obtained) at the Mwelga Park HQ.
The Warden: P0 Box 22, Nyeri, Central Province.
Tel: (Nyeri) +254 (20) 2046271
How to get there
By road: Take the A2 out of Nairobi (direction Thika) into Nyeri and the Nyeri – Nyahururu road out of Nyeri.Ruhuruini, Ark and treetops gates are signposted off this road.
Gates: The following entry gates exist: Ark, Treetops, Ruhuruini, Kiandongoro, Mutubio, Wandaris, Shamata and Rhino.
NOTE. Shamata and Rhino Gates are currently closed for renovations.
By air: Via Mweiga airstrip.
Kenya Wildlife Service, Marketing & Business Development – Nairobi
Tel : +254 (20) 600800, 602345
Fax: +254 (20) 607024