Covering an area of 766 square kilometers, Kenya’s Aberdare National Park lays right in the heart of the country. It sits in the Central Highlands region, southwest of the majestic Mount Kenya. The park is part of the Aberdare Mountain Range and is a real myriad of landscapes, with peaks that reach 10,000 feet above sea level and tower over the forests, ravines, rivers, waterfalls, and moorlands that lay below.
Thanks to its diverse landscapes, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife. You can catch a glimpse of the Big Five, as well as jackals, elands and baboons, to name a few. The park has an exceptionally large population of endangered black rhinos and the deep rivers provide an idyllic spot for trout fishing. Over 250 species of birds have made their home here and this is a prime pick for those who wish to catch a glimpse of the endangered Aberdare Cisticola.
Stunning as it may be, however, the park’s diverse terrain does have its drawbacks for those hoping to spot some of the local inhabitants. The trees that fill the area of rainforest known as the Salient provide a perfect hiding place for the animals of the park, who relish the opportunity to disappear amongst them in a flash.
Aberdare National Park Cost
Aberdare National Park is open daily between 6am – 7pm. Entry fees for non-residents are $50 for adults and $25 for children and students. Those wishing to enter must obtain a SafariCard, which is a smart card that can be topped up to cover fees. SafariCards can be purchased at the Aberdare National Park headquarters prior to entry.
Activities at Aberdare National Park
There is much on offer to keep visitors amused in the Aberdare National Park. Of course, game viewing and bird watching opportunities are rife, with both day and night game drives available as well as guided nature walks. Self-drive safaris are also permitted.
Keen climbers can tackle the Aberdare Ranges, reaching the tops of peaks such as the 4000m high Lesatima while fishermen can spend a lazy day on the banks of one of the Aberdare’s rivers.
Trekking and horse-riding are also an option, as is mountain biking. The park is an ideal spot for any photographers hoping to capture some great landscape and wildlife shots.
Aberdare National Park Highlights
Aberdares is filled with stunning scenery, and two key highlights are the views from the Karuru waterfalls and a jaunt across the wooden walkways at Chania Falls.
Visitors can embrace the opportunity to soak up views over the Rift Valley and Mount Kenya and might even be lucky enough to spot the elusive but beautiful bongo antelope.
Getting to Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park is 150km from Nairobi and is easily reachable by road. Nearby towns are Nyeri, Nyahururu and Naivasha and there are several entrance gates depending on the direction you’re coming from.
From Nyeri, visitors can enter via the Ruhuruina, Kiandongoro, Ark, Wandare and Treetops gates. If approaching from Nyahururu, use the Rhino or Shamata Gate and from Naivasha, use the Mutubio Gate. The Mweiga Airstrip is nearby for those who wish to fly.
Where to stay at Aberdare National Park
There are a wealth of accommodation options within the park. Visitors can stay amongst the trees at both The Ark Hotel and the Treetops Hotel. Both have been set up to maximize game viewing opportunities for lucky guests, with walkways and viewing points carefully arranged amidst a thick forest canopy. They are also set close to floodlit water holes, giving guests the chance to view wildlife direct from their lodgings.
The moorlands are well kitted out for campers who want to spend a few nights under the starry African skies, with a selection of public campsites and camping facilities from $15 per day. There are also several self-catering options. One is Tusk Camp Banda, which consists of two self-catering cabins with a bathroom, sitting room, dining area and kitchen. There are great wildlife spotting opportunities nearby and it can sleep up to 8 people from $100 per night.
When to go to Aberdare National Park
Rainfall occurs for most of the year in Aberdare National Park and a persistent mist lingers due to the park’s high altitude. The main rainy season is from March to May when visiting is not advised as the roads become impassable. A shorter rainy season runs from October to December.