Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park : Welcome to Aberdare national park which is found in Central Kenya 153.1 kilometres from Nairobi. The Aberdare Range lies within Nyandarua ,Laikipia, Kiambu and Nyeri counties and governed by Kenya wildlife service a body mandated to protect, conserve and manage all the wild animals in Kenya.The park was Established in May 1950. The Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 square kilometres and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range. The range is a 160 kilometre of a volcanic range forming the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley.  The mountain ranges makes the park unmatched hiking destination in the Kenyan safari tour. The park  consist of  wide range of landscapes  from mountain peaks that rise to 4,000 metres above sea level, to their deep, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Moorland, bamboo forests and rainforests are found at lower altitudes offering a taste of a typical Kenyan wildlife safari.

Aberdare National Park is best known park in Kenya and all over the world as the site where in 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen after the death of her father King George VI, whilst staying at the Treetops Hotel. The park played also an important role during the pre colonial era in 1953, Ten years before kenya  got her independence the Aberdare forest provided refuge to many hundreds of Mau Mau rebels, led by Dedan Kimathi one of the Kenya’s heroes and freedom fighter. In June 1953, the entire region was declared off-limits for Africans, and orders to shoot Africans on sight were set in place. Mau Mau rebels burnt down the Treetops as a rebel against shoot to kill order.The  Hotel had acted as a lookout for the King’s African Rifles on 27 May 1954 in a contentious military action or act of terror. The incident took place as the uprising was slowly being brought to an end by British military action that is how the park is significant in the today independent Kenya.

The park is also providing a habitat for 3 of the famous Big five animals that is the African savannah elephants, black rhinos and leopards other animals include the spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, buffalos, warthogs and bushbucks among others. Rare sightings include those of the Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cat, African wild cat, African civet cat and the blue duiker. Tourists and other visitors can indulge in a lot of activities in the park like picnics, trout fishing in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Bird viewing is rewarding here , with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson’s Francolin, Sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.

Aberdare Ranges

The Aberdare National Park is enclosed within Aberdare ranges with natural forest cover, waterfalls ,sources of Rivers and several hills with the highest being Mount Satima which means a “Mountain of  the young bull “with its highest point having a elevation of 4001 metres above sea level and his highly forested. The second highest peak to the southern end of the Range is Mount kinangop at 3,906 Metres and Mount Kenya with 5299 Metres the second highest mountain in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro lies East of Aberdare Ranges.

The Aberdare Ranges is a water catchment area for Sasumua and Ndakaini dams which supply water to Nairobi.It is also a water catchment for Tana River providing water for the seven Forks hydroelectric power supplying 55% of Kenya’s electricity. There are also other rivers such as Tana and Athi draining it’s water into Indian Ocean .Ewaso Nyiro draining its water into Lorian swamp and River Malewa that drains its water into Lake Naivasha all have their sources in Aberdare Forest Reserve. There is also Chebuswa hills with an elevation of 3,137 Metres, Table mountain with a peak of 3971 metres offering the altimeter hiking experience and the Elephant hill summit with a peak of 3513 metres . The Aberdare Ranges was named by Joseph Thomson in the year 1884 in honour of Lord Aberdare who was the president of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical society. He was also a Liberal political who had served as Home Secretary from 1868 to 1873 and was latter to be the first Chancellor of the University of Wales.

Attractions of Aberdare National park

Game viewing:

Aberdare National park is home of the famous Big Five animals such as the Elephant, black rhino, leopard, Buffaloes and Lions. Other animals are the spotted hyena, olive baboon, black and white colobus monkey, Sykes monkey, cape buffalo, warthog, common zebra , bushbuck, reedbuck .This makes the park  a perfect safari destination for game viewing on a Kenya safari, the park also has got the large population of the black rhinos in Kenya. Due to the fact that the park is made of mountain ranges there are perfect view points of  sighting rare animals which include those of Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cat, African wild cat, African civet cat, blue duiker among others Kenyan wildlife.

Aberdare National Park

Beautiful scenery and Waterfalls

Aberdare National park has very beautiful sceneries making it one of the beautiful places  in kenya , it  include magnificent waterfalls which include:

 Karuru waterfalls which fall in three steps, 1st step 383 feet , 2nd step 84 feet and 3rd is 427 feet , making a total of 939 feet making it the tallest waterfall in Kenya.

Chania waterfalls  is one of the magnificent and breath-taking views ,surrounded by indigenous trees is a perfect for picnic, family and friends destination in Kenya safari. A green beauty for birds and Nature lovers pours down a high three lined cliff direct into a restaurant of the Blue post restaurant. The view is stunning from the Terrace of the restaurant which is an outstanding birding area where visitors or tourists may see a variety of birds such as Hibiscus,  Hadada ibis and Hermerkops among others.

Gura Giant falls It is situated along the southern end of the Aberdare National Park with Karuru falls in the opposite side within the same gorge.

Chain waterfall  It is situated in the south-eastern moorland  of Aberdare National park. It is shorter compared to the others Gura and Karuru falls. There is available parking area near the falls from which a short hike is taken to the falls.

Mugura waterfalls located in the southeast side of the park.The beauty of the falls lies in the bottom of the falls ,where there is a cave. The cave looks like ,it was man made but it is natural. The cave is known as the Queen cave .It was named after Queen Elizabeth of England because it was during her visit with her husband prince Philip at this park that she ascended to her throne after the death of her father King George VI. Near the cave there is a wooden place where Queen took her lunch.

Electric fence

Aberdare National Park has a recent marked attraction in which is the 400Kms electric fence which was completed  in 28th August, 2009.  The fence protects the whole Aberdare ecosystem  from  human encroachment and contains wildlife from moving out of the park into the human settlements,  preventing human/wildlife conflict.


Tourists  who visit Aberdare National park can also indulge in picnics and trout fishing. In the past the rivers were stocked with brown rainbow trout in the rivers and camping in the Moorlands.

Bird viewing

 Aberdare national park is rewarding with about 290 recorded bird species making it a perfect destination for bird watchers in Kenya. Some of the common birds include the Aberdare Cisticola that is critically endangered and the Jackson’s francolin, which is regionally endemic, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers. Other bird species to be observed in Aberdare National Park includes Bar-tailed trogon, African green pigeon, Crowned eagle, Doherty’s bush-shrike, Hartlaub’s turaco, Bronzy sunbird, Crowned eagle, Golden-winged sunbird, Golden-winged sunbird, Moorland francolin, Olive ibis, Mountain buzzard, Montane white-eye, Montagu’s harrier, Moustached green tinker bird, Tacazze sunbird, Narina trogon, White-headed wood-hoopoe, Silvery-checked hornbill, Tambourine dove, Hartlaub’s turaco and among others.


Aberdare National park is one of the famous trekking tour safari destinations in Kenya.The park is easily conquered by foot and offer a wonderful wild Hiking Kenyan safari experience especially when accompanied by a trained armed on the numerous hiking trails of the Aberdare hills.

Historical and cultural sites.

Aberdare National park safari tour is rich with both wildlife History and Culture. The Aberdare Ranges spreads across more than 5 counties which are predominantly occupied by the Kikuyu speaking people of kenya. It is at this forest where it is believed that Mau mau fighters used to hide at the tree trunks of the Mugumo tree and launch their fights against the European settlers.

Mugumo tree

Mugumo tree is a sacred tree among the Agikuyu or Kikuyu. It is a evergreen type of fig tree, whose wood is unsuitable for timber or firewood. The tree can grow to a size of 90 metres tall in Forest or in savannah, and very valuable in conserving soil moisture and fertility. In the past, Kikuyu have used the tree as medicine, fruit, rain catchment, marking boundaries, sanctuaries ,Fodder for castles and hanging beehives. The Mugumo tree are known for its size , strength and power. They are also believed to be house of Ngai the Kikuyu God who chose to inhabit Mugumo tree when descending from Heaven to commune with the Kikuyu. They believe that the spirits of the ancestors dwell in Mugumo trees and its canopy has been used as a shrine to offer prayers and sacrifices to gods.Agikuyu ancestors believed that God would heed their prayers when they prayed under the tree .The tree is not planted but grows wildly in fertile and moist areas, especially near rivers. It is believed that the tree is planted by God.

The Aberdare National park was known for its caves and the Mugumo trees which provided a perfect hideout during the Mau Mau rebellion against the British colonials. It was used by the Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi as a post office to pass messages between the fighters in the Forest and their secret agents. It was so popular that at one point the Mugumo tree was referred to as Kimathi’s  post office.

How to get to Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National  Park is readily accessible throughout the year on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the Eastern side and it’s 150 kilometres from Nairobi. A road crosses the park through the lower slopes up to the Moorlands to connect with another one from Naivasha on the western side. Naivasha is 87 kilometres from Nairobi . The park Headquarters is 15 kilometres from Nyeri town, along the Nyeri – Nyahururu road.

The park can also be accessed by air the nearest airstrip being at Mweiga Airstrip on the opposite side from Park Headquarters along Nyeri – Nyahururu road near Sasini Estate Farm.

Park Entry fee

                        Adult                child

Citizen         kshs 300           kshs 215

Resident     ksh 300              ksh 215

Non resident 52USD            26 USD

Mode of payment are Mpesa, Visa cards or Direct deposit at Kenya wildlife service accounts at any gate.

Best time to visit Aberdare National park

Aberdare National park is found in a region of high altitude because of that it experiences mists and heavy rainfall almost throughout the year because of its mountainous nature. The drier months are  January and February and from June to September are usually the best times to visit with the most rewarding game viewing.

Accommodation facilities at Aberdare National park

There are good number of options for Visitors to choose from during their visit to the park from the famous Treetops lodge, to The Ark- built in the shape of Noah’s Ark , Aberdare county club,  and three self-help banda sites, eight special campsites and a public campsite in the moorland. There are also five picnic sites. Both Treetops and The Ark provide excellent night-time wildlife viewing offering the best wild experience. Animals most likely to be seen include Elephants, Cape buffalo, and rhino, which come to the nearby waterholes.

Treetop Lodge

Treetops Lodge was first opened in 1932 by Eric Sherbrooke Walker. The Hotel has a ground-level photographic hides from which guests can observe the local wildlife which comes to the nearby waterholes.

The hotel is  famous and historical all over the world because it here , where Princess Elizabeth was staying in 1952 when she ascended to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth states upon  the death of her father, King George VI.

The initial idea of the founder Major Eric Sherbrooke Walker, was to build a treehouse for his wife Lady Bettie. What a perfect place to spent on a Kenyan  visit mixing both the Kenyan political history and fascinating Kenyan wildlife.

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