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Aberdare National Park – Kenya

The Aberdare NP is a beautiful national park to the west of Mt Kenya. The range was named in 1884 in honour of Lord Aberdare. It is a 160km long mountainous area with an average altitude of 3500m / 11,480ft. Most of it has been protected in the Aberdare NP since 1950.

There are two distinct areas in the park, one is called the Salient with huge forested areas, tall trees, hills, crystal-clear streams and some open grassy areas.

The other is known as the highlands and has some forested areas, but is mostly African alpine with moorlands, some of Kenya’s tallest mountains, thundering waterfalls and cold, fast-flowing streams filled with trout, excellent for fly-fishing and hiking.

From some areas in the Aberdare NP you have an excellent view – on clear days – of Mt Kenya.

Main attractions:

The Aberdare NP is a beautiful area with a diverse range of activities possible. The main attractions of the Aberdare NP are:

  1. Excellent hiking, from day hikes to multi-day hikes
  2. Great safari drives in a forest environment
  3. World-class fly-fishing
  4. Chance of seeing an elusive bongo in the wild
  5. Floodlit waterholes for nighttime animal viewing directly from your lodge
  6. Spectacular waterfalls
  7. Amazing landscapes

The best hike

Kenya’s third highest mountain, Mount Satima at 4001m, is located in the northern end of the Aberdare NP. It is an amazing hike across African moorlands to reach the top of Mount Satima.

There are many other hiking opportunities, ranging from a short walk to a beautiful waterfall to longer day hikes and even overnight and multi-day hiking opportunities. Make sure you book a ranger for your walks and be fully self-contained for the longer hikes as there are no facilities on the hiking trails.

All hiking is done in the western side of the national park.


Safari drives

The Salient area is mostly used for the classic safari drives. The forest makes it difficult to spot animals, but you have a good chance to see the giant forest hog, elephants, the acrobatic Colobus monkeys with their flowing black and white coat assisting them to fly between the tall trees, buffalos, bushbuck, waterbuck, hyena or even leopard if you are lucky.


You can drive around the highlands area, continuing the safari from the Salient, but this area is also popular with hikers and fishermen. Fishermen will need to arrange a permit to fly-fish in the trout-filled streams of the Aberdare NP.

Spot a bongo in the wild

The elusive bongo, a rare mountain antelope, is rarely seen nowadays, but the Aberdares in one of the few remaining spots where you can spot one in the wild. A great place to get lucky, are the excellent floodlit waterholes at both lodges in the Aberdare NP (The Ark and Treetops).

Floodlit waterholes for nighttime animal viewing

Both lodges in the Aberdare NP (The Ark and Treetops) have floodlit waterholes for evening viewing. You can view the animals at the waterhole from several areas, but there is also a hide so you are level with the animals. Both hotels also have a bell system where you can choose to be woken up with a bell if an interesting animal arrives at the waterhole. What do you choose, an uninterrupted night’s rest or a chance to see a bongo or leopard come in for a drink?

Spectacular waterfalls

The Aberdare NP is blessed with numerous waterfalls and lots of streams. Quite a few of them on the western side of the park offer the option of a short or long hike to get close to them.

Amazing landscapes

The variety of landscapes in the Aberdare NP is huge. From the moorlands, the forest to the high altitude planes with dramatic rock formations, you can find them all in the Aberdare NP. Some you can see from the comfort of your safari vehicle, but for others you will have to put on some boots and go for a hike first. What are you waiting for?

How to get there

Fly to the Aberdare NP

The best way to get to the Aberdare NP is to fly to Nairobi or Nanyuki and drive from there. Alternatively you could charter a plane and fly to Nyeri, the closest town on the eastern side. If you want to go hiking on the western side of the park, it is best to determine which area you are going to walk first to see which town is closest.

Drive to the Aberdare NP

From Nairobi, it takes approximately 3 hours to drive to the Aberdares NP. From Nanyuki it would take approximately 2 hours to the gate on the eastern side.

Lunch stops on the way to the Aberdare NP when staying in The Ark or at Treetops

When staying at The Ark, your first stop is the historic Aberdare Country Club, where lunch is served. After lunch you drive to your lodge. Similarly, if you are staying at Treetops, your first stop is at The Outspan Hotel for lunch before arriving at your lodge inside the Aberdare NP.

Start planning your safari, hiking or fly-fishing trip today and book your cheap flight to Nyeri with Tripindigo today!

Best time to visit

Kenya’s higher inlands are very pleasant with daytime temperatures between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, cooler at night.

Kenya has a dry season from June to October, a wet season called ‘short rains’ in November and December, another dry spell in January and February, followed by the ‘long rains’ in March, April and May.

No matter which season, you will need warm clothes for the evenings as it can get quite cool at night due to the altitude.

High season

The best season to visit the Aberdare NP is in Kenya’s dry season from July to October, but it is possible to visit the national park at any time of the year.

Hiking can be done year-round, but in the dry season you will have a little less chance of getting wet during your hike. Having said that, the mountains in the Aberdare NP have a higher rainfall and it is possible to encounter rain any time of the year. Usually it doesn’t rain all day

Low season

Low season in the Aberdare NP is during the long rains, when you have a higher chance to get wet. Tracks and trails become slippery and harder to negotiate, both in a safari vehicle and on foot. The long rains in the Aberdare NP are from March until May.


  • Queen Elizabeth was staying here when she found out she was no longer a princess after her father passed away.
  • Some of the world’s last remaining wild bongos live in the Aberdares NP.
  • The Aberdare NP is Kenya’s only national park that is completely fenced to prevent human-wildlife conflict.
  • In the 1950’s the Aberdares were the headquarters of the leaders of the Mau Mau Uprising.

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