Aberdare National Park safari | Travel guide

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Aberdare National Park is a protected area in the Aberdare Mountain Range in central Kenya located east of the East African Rift Valley. It covers the higher areas and the Aberdare Salient to the east.

Picturesque, steep forested ravines and open moorland characterise the park and provide a habitat for large mammals and monkeys.

Tree hotels are designed for guests to observe wildlife coming to waterholes (or salt licks) in pristine forest habitat.

Wildlife viewing from this elevated position is a remarkably rewarding way to see animals otherwise difficult to spot in the dense vegetation.

Why visit Aberdare National Park?

Aberdare National Park safari

This beautifully scenic region is much cooler than the savannahs and offers a completely different perspective on Kenya. The national park lies mainly above the tree line.

There are plenty of great things to do in Kenya and Aberdare NP is no exception with its spectacular scenery and mountainous terrain covered in thick tropical forests swathed in mist.

Half the thrill of game viewing in this park is an Elephant or Buffalo suddenly appearing out of the thick rainforest vegetation. One of the best places to see the local denizens is at one of the waterholes by the lodge.

View of the forest and rolling mountains amidst a cloudy sky in Aberdare National Park in central Kenya – Source: Demande Philippe – Adobe Stock ©

Animals

The park is known for its population of elephants, black rhinos, leopards, 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.

The forest is home to populations of forest Elephants, Buffalo, Lion and several species of antelope such as Waterbuck, Duiker, the rare Suni and Bushbuck, eland as well as zebras.

If you are very lucky you might catch a glimpse of Kenya’s rarest antelope, the Bongo. The Park is also home to a healthy population of Black Rhino.

Serval and Leopard also can be found, some of which have a rare black coat. There are many species of primates, including Black and White Colobus and Sykes and Vervet Monkey’s.

Eland, antelopes and zebras feeling relaxed and replenished in the green grasses of Aberdare National Park – Source: Eitazul – Adobe Stock ©

Birds

Visitors can indulge in picnics, trout fishing in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson’s Francolin, Sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.

Trees

There are 778 vegetation and plant species, subspecies and varieties found in the Aberdares forest including Hardwood trees such as Camphor, Cedar, Podo and Hagenia.

Other activities at Aberdare National Park

Here are some other activities which visitors can consider during their African safari experience in Aberdare National Park:

  • Aberdare Safari Walk: Explore the nature wildlife on foot, an authentic and economical means of exploring wildlife in Aberdare National Park
  • Photography safari tours: Visitors on a photo safari can share a photography tour with like-minded individuals and capture their favourite moments.
  • Sightseeing tours: Go birdwatching, enjoy sundowner drinks from high above or a bush breakfast in nature.

Visitors often enjoy combining their Kenyan safari adventure with some quiet downtime on Kenya’s best beaches, a perfect end to an African adventure.

Chania Waterfalls. A magical place amongst the surrounding greenery and rocks at Aberdare National Park – Source: Delvin – Adobe Stock ©

How to get to Aberdare National Park?

By Plane

There are daily scheduled flights to the nearby Nanyuki airstrip with international flights via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) for visitors wondering how to get to Kenya. NBO airport is located 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi and a Kenya visa will likely be required to enter the country.

By Road

Aberdare National Park is located 160km/100mi north of Nairobi and 20km/13mi southwest of Nanyuki. The drive from Nairobi takes about 2½ to 3 hours.

Tariffs & Regulations

Entrance fee

Many factors impact Kenya safari prices including the cost of the park entrance fee.

Prices per person per day:

  • USD $52 per adult non resident per day
  • USD $25 per child

The gates into Aberdare National Park open at 6.30am and close at 6.30pm.

Regulations

If you keep to park rules, you can stay with the animals as long as they are not disturbed by your presence.

Accommodation at Aberdare National Park

Rates mainly depending on the season and type of accommodation. Carrying a small amount of Kenyan currency, the Kenya Shilling (KES) is recommended to pay for groceries and smaller items where credit cards aren’t accepted.

Lodges

Lodges are exclusive and luxurious with views amongst the most spectacular in the world along with world-class service, incredible food, all luxury amenities, simply ideal for the perfect honeymoon location.

The Ark Tree Lodge overlooks one of the largest salt-licks and waterholes in the mountains where you can see a variety of bamboo forest game unlike anywhere else in Africa.

Aberdare Country Club is nestled on a slope of Mweiga Hill in the Aberdare Highlands, part of the Great Rift Valley. Other options include Giraffe Ark Game Lodge and Maverick Camp.

Campsites

There are a number of affordable camping sites offering cheaper camping options for travellers on a budget including Reedbuck Public Campsite & Bongo Campsite.

Campervan

Guests on a safari game drive by themselves in a campervan can make significant savings by sleeping in their vehicle.

Bars/restaurants/amenities

Lodges will typically have all meals and drinks included in the lodge package.

Useful information

Geography

Located 105 miles to the north of Nairobi, a Kenya safari in Aberdare National Park is often combined with a trip to Masai Mara National Reserve.

Weather

Even in the Dry season it still rains a lot. This is the coldest time of the year with afternoon temperatures around 15°C/59°F. Nighttime and early mornings are cold – just a few degrees above freezing.

Best time to go

Understanding the best time to visit Kenya is important as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation.

The long dry season is the best time to visit Aberdare NP from July to October. These are also the coolest months of the year, with average monthly maximum daytime temperatures ranging from 21 C (70 F) to 23 C (73 F).

Health

Aberdare National Park is not considered a malaria area since of the height, but precautions need to continue to be taken, since you will be originating from or going to areas where Malaria is a real threat. Visitors can find further information on Kenya vaccine details here.

FAQs

Where is Aberdare National Park located?

There are daily scheduled flights to the Nanyuki airstrip and international flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.The drive from Nairobi takes about 2½ to 3 hours.

How much is the entrance fee to Aberdare National Reserve?

USD $52 per adult and USD $25 per child.

What animals will visitors see at Aberdare National Reserve?

Visitors to Aberdare National Park will see elephants, black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, sykes monkeys, buffalos, warthogs and bushbucks, Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cats, African wild cat, African civet cat and the blue duiker.