Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park is a high altitude national park created to protect the slopes and moorland of the Aberdare Mountains. The topography ranges from high moorland, hills and peaks to indigenous forest, ravines, streams and waterfalls. Due to its high altitude, the park is very rainy and misty, with roads that become impassable during the wet season. The Kenya Wildlife Service and Rhino Ark, a charity dedicated to the protection of the area and its wildlife, run Aberdare National Park.
Aberdare is home to the second largest herd of endangered black rhinos. Many Kenyan animals can be seen here including African elephants, lions, rhinos, black leopard and the elusive bongo antelope. Two of Kenya’s best safari lodges are located in Aberdare National Park – Treetops and The Ark. Both provide excellent game viewing at night over the watering hole.
Created in 1950, Aberdare National Park was a far-sighted decision to protect the Aberdare Mountains and surrounding wildlife. It is situated 100km (62 miles) north of Nairobi, at the very center of Kenya. Aberdare National Park covers just 766km², which is small compared to other national parks, and has more difficult terrain due to its location in Kenya’s central highlands, to the west of Mount Kenya. The volcanic range of the Aberdare Mountains varies from the high moorland at 3000 meters (9842 feet), to the peaks of Kinangop (3906m/12814 feet) and Ol Donyo Lesatima (3999m/13123 feet).
The rich, red volcanic soil provides excellent growing conditions for the indigenous forest, and lies in stark contrast to both the forest and the mountain’s rugged and beautiful peaks. One of the main features of Aberdare National Park is that it is home to the second largest population of black rhinos, which are an endangered species. Other animals that may be observed in the park include African lions, leopards, baboons, and black and white Colobus monkeys and Sykes monkeys. There are also over 250 species of birds, including hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.
There are 60km (37 miles) of primary roads and 396km (246 miles) of secondary roads, but they all become virtually impassable during the rainy season, which lasts from March to May, and to a lesser degree, from October to December. There is still some rainfall and mist year-round due to the high altitude of Aberdare.