Aberdare National Park

A fairly small national park, Aberdare National Park is in Kenya’s Central Highlands. One of the more scenic and tropical parks, it is home to the Big 5, as well as some rare forest-dwelling game like the shy bongo antelope. Within easy striking distance of Nairobi, the Aberdare National Park has some original, historical safari lodges, and offers a unique safari experience in spectacular scenery.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Home to the Big 5
  • Has the second largest black rhino population
  • In Kenya’s Central Highlands, it has a unique range of moors and tropical forests
  • Much cooler and more pleasant climate than many of the other parks
  • Chance to see rare forest animals like the bongo antelope, Colobus monkey, black leopard
  • Photographic hides close to salt licks and waterholes get you close to the big game
  • Year-round safari destination with excellent game viewing

A fairly small reserve, the Aberdare National Park offers a totally different safari experience to the better-known, open savannah parks of Kenya. Situated in the country’s Central Highlands, just 180 km north of Nairobi, it has two unusual landscapes; a moorland plateau and areas of dense rainforest. When you visit the Aberdare on safari, you’ll not only enjoy unique and spectacular scenery, you’ll also experience excellent game viewing, especially in its eastern sector.

Aberdare National Park Big 5 reserve with some rare game

Although not as easy to spot as on the open plains – you have every chance of seeing the Big 5: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. You may be lucky enough to spot the elusive bongo – a shy antelope that looks a little like a reddish kudu and lives in the bamboo forests – as well as some of its other forest friends like the Colobus monkey, golden cat, giant forest hog and leopard. The area also has a respectable birding list at over 250 species.

Colonial history

Aberdare National Park is one of the more historic wildlife parks with well-established lodges like Treetops and The Ark still boasting about their illustrious guest lists from days gone by; like when the young Princess Elizabeth became queen when her father, King George VI passed on the night of 5 February 1952.

Softer climate

Considered more of a year-round safari destination than some of the other parks, Aberdare is mountainous and can experience mist and rain throughout the year. The drier months of January and February and from June to September are usually the best times to visit with the most rewarding game viewing. The rainy season (rains can be heavy) is usually from March to May.

Easy to get to and well located, the Aberdare offers you some excellent, historical lodges and makes a good addition to your Kenyan safari itinerary.

Wildlife and Safaris

On safari in Aberdare, you’re likely to see black rhino, elephant, leopard, baboon, black and white Colobus monkey and Sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include lion, golden cat and bongo – a shy forest antelope that prefers the bamboo forest. Large plains animals like eland can be found higher up on the moorlands.

Accommodation

There are only a few safari lodges at Aberdare, mostly with fascinating histories of bygone days.

The Aberdare National Park is fairly small, yet has some of the most elusive forest dwellers on offer, like the very shy bongo antelope. The lodges are generally situated overlooking active waterholes and salt licks where animals come to drink and congregate at all hours.