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Aberdare National Park – A 2024 Safari

Horse back riding in the aberdare mountains

The Aberdare National Park is known for its majestic peaks, misty valleys, and magical landscapes. It is a place of great beauty worth your 2024 safari experience.

The Aberdare National Park is a site to behold. The park is one of the few in Kenya that boasts clean, crisp air, ideal for tourists looking for a place to relax and find peace and tranquillity.

This article explores why the Aberdare National Park is an excellent tourist safari destination. We will study its history, unique ecosystem, and wildlife. In addition, we will discuss some of the numerous safari activities that can be done in Aberdares Park in Kenya.

Get in touch to plan for an Aberdare National Park safari. We provide luxury 4X4 Toyota Landcruisers, vans, and experienced tour guides.

The Aberdare National Park 

The Aberdare Park is located in Nyeri County and was gazetted in 1950. The main aim back then was to protect the Aberdare National Park and its entire ecosystem. Over time, the gazetted was expanded, and now occupies an area of 767 km2. 

The Aberdare Kenya was created due to extensive faulted volcanic terranes, formed from hundreds of small cones and fissures. The Aberdares form a section of the Eastern ring of the Great Rift Valley and have an altitude of 11,000 ft. 

Some of the tallest points in the Aberdare Ranges include Oldoinyo Lesatima and IIKinangop which are 13,120 feet and 12,815 feet, respectively. These points are currently being used as hiking points. 

The Aberdare ranges were named after Lord Aberdare, a British landowner. Equally important, the ranges were named by a Scottish Explorer known as Joseph Thomson. Joseph Thomson was the first white man to see the Aberdare mountain ranges.

It is, however, important to note that the Aberdare mountain ranges have a native name known as Nyandarua. Similarly, Nyandarua means drying hide because the ranges have distinctive folds.

During the battle for independence from Colonial Britain, the ranges were used as the headquarters of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi. Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi was a Freedom warrior who planned military campaigns against the British Colonial government. 

Freedom Fighters preferred the Aberdare ranges because of their many caves and dense forests. Besides the Aberdare mountains, the mau mau fighters also sought refuge in the Mount Kenya National Park.

Cultural Significance of the Aberdare Mountains

The Aberdare Mountains play a big part in local communities’ traditional and modern beliefs. In fact, there is a local community that resides in the area known as the Agikuyu community. The community calls the Aberdare ranges Nyandarua and believes that if their spiritual God is not on Mount Kenya, he is in the Aberdare National Park.

What Makes the Aberdares National Park a Good Safari Destination?

Game drives in the aberdare park africa

The pack has numerous picturesque mountains that create a magical scenery. This scenery makes the park ideal for camp and stay. 

In addition, the park is home to renowned torrential waterfalls such as the Karuru waterfall, which drops to an impressive 300-meter height. Other famous waterfalls include the Guru, Magura, and Chania waterfalls.

In addition, the Aberdares National Park has what is referred to as the Dragon Teeth. The Dragon teeth are located in the northern Moorlands part of the park, just a few kilometers from the Equator. The Dragon Teeth are volcanic rock formations that appear like teeth inside a jaw.

Some say that it is a dragon cursed by ancient local communities. The only way to find this out for yourself is to book an Aberdare Park safari and investigate it yourself. 

The Making of Queen Elizabeth in the Aberdare National Park

Lastly, the Aberdare ranges are famous worldwide because it is where, on 6 February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II learned about her father’s death. After learning about her father’s death, the 25-year-old princess became Queen Elizabeth II.

During this time, Queen Elizabeth was on an African Safari and stayed at the Treetops Hotel, built on top of a Mugumo tree. The hotel was initially built in 1932 by a British hotelier known as Sir Eric Shabrook.

It is important to note that the Mau Mau Freedom fighters destroyed the original Treetop, where Queen Elizabeth became Queen. This is because the freedom fighters suspected that British sniper soldiers were using the hotel for cover.

The Enchanting landscape of the Aberdares National Park Kenya

The Aberdare ranges have three main habitats:

  • Moorlands
  • Forests
  • Waterfalls and Rivers
  • Moorlands: The Aberdare National Park is characterized by its extensive moorlands, which are found at high altitudes and are covered with tussock grass, heather, and other alpine vegetation.

These moorlands offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and are home to unique flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions.

  • Forests: The Park encompasses diverse forest ecosystems, such as montane forests, bamboo forests, and dense thickets.

These forests harbor a rich biodiversity, with various tree species, ferns, mosses, and lichens. They provide essential habitat for wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and numerous bird species.

  • Waterfalls and Rivers: Aberdare National Park Africa has picturesque falls cascading down rugged cliffs, creating stunning natural attractions. The park’s rivers, such as the Chania and Gura, meander through lush valleys and gorges. In addition, the rivers sustain abundant aquatic life and provide crucial water sources for the park’s inhabitants.

Animals Found in The Aberdares National Park


The Aberdare National Park is home to a wide range of animals such as:

  1. African Elephant
  2. Black Rhinoceros
  3. Bongo Antelope
  4. Mountain Leopard
  5. Buffalo
  6. Giant Forest Hog
  7. Black and White Colobus Monkey
  8. Sykes’ Monkey
  9. Bushbuck
  10. Eland
  11. Waterbuck
  12. African Leopard
  13. Serval
  14. Side-striped Jackal
  15. African Civet
  16. African Wild Dog
  17. Spotted Hyena
  18. African Lion
  19. Olive Baboon
  20. White-tailed mongoose
  21. Tree Hyrax
  22. Genet
  23. African Clawless Otter
  24. Hippopotamus

10  Birds Found at the Kenya Aberdares Park

Gold breastest starling bird

The Aberdare mountain ranges are home to numerous bird species such as the African Green Pigeon. This colorful bird mostly dwells in the montane forests and is characterized by its green plumage and yellow bill. The bird also has a red-eye ring. 

Other types of birds found in the Aberdares are:

  • Aberdare Cisticola: The bird is endemic to the Aberdare and is characterized by its streaked plumage and distinctive vocalizations. It is typically found in grassy areas and scrublands.
  • Aberdare Warbler: Another endemic species is the Aberdare warbler. It is a small bird with a distinctive yellow breast and olive-green upperparts. It inhabits montane forests and bamboo thickets.
  • Jackson’s Francolin: This medium-sized bird is endemic to the highlands of Kenya, including the Aberdare. It has brown plumage and often forages the forest floor.
  • Crowned Eagle: This is a powerful eagle with a distinctive crest on its head. It is a top predator and preys on various animals, such as small mammals and birds.
  • African Fish Eagle: The African Eagle has a striking black, white, and brown plumage. 

 It is mostly spotted around rivers and lakes in the Aberdare National Park. The Eagle is known for its distinctive call and habit of swooping to catch fish from the water.

  • African Crowned Crane: This iconic bird is known for its golden crown feathers and graceful movements. You can spot the birds in the wetlands and grasslands within the park, foraging for insects and small vertebrates.
  • Scarlet-tufted Sunbird: Found in montane forests and bamboo thickets, this small sunbird is named for the vibrant scarlet tufts of feathers on its throat. It feeds on nectar from flowers and insects.
  • Silvery-cheeked Hornbill: This large hornbill species is often seen flying high above the canopy of the park’s forests. It has striking black and white plumage, with distinctive silver-colored patches on its cheeks.
  • Aberdare Nightjar: Active at dusk and dawn, this nocturnal bird is well-camouflaged with its cryptic plumage. It roosts during the day and hunts insects at night in open areas within the park.

Safari Experiences at the Aberdare National Park

There are a lot of activities you can do at the Aberdare mountain ranges. These activities make the Aberdares ideal for an African safari destination. 

So, what are some of the activities in the Aberdare mountains?

Game Drive safaris

The park is a perfect safari destination because of the large number of wildlife in the national park. In addition, the best times to go for a game drive are from 6:30 am to 10:30 am.  At these times, predatory animals such as lions and leopards are looking for prey.

 Other suitable times are between 2 pm – 6 pm or 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Apart from predatory animals, you will also see the African elephant, cape buffaloes, jackals, wild dogs, and the mountain reedbuck.

Tips for an Amazing Game Drive Experience:

  • Book your drive in advance, especially during the peak season.
  • Dress in comfortable clothing and neutral colors that blend in with the surroundings.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Pack binoculars for a closer look at the wildlife.
  • Bring a camera with a long lens to capture those unforgettable wildlife moments.
  • Listen to your guide’s instructions and always stay inside the vehicle.

Horseback Riding in the Aberdares

Horseback riding offers a unique and immersive way to explore this iconic national park’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. Here’s what you need to know about horseback riding experiences in the park:

The Aberdare National Park boasts scenic trails that wind through lush forests, open grasslands, and along picturesque rivers. Horseback riding allows you to traverse these trails at a leisurely pace. This allows you to appreciate the park’s natural beauty and spot wildlife along the way.

In addition, the safari is led by experienced guides who ensure your safety and provide insights into the park’s ecology, history, and wildlife. These guides are familiar with the terrain and can tailor the ride to your skill level and preferences.

Horseback riding in the park is a good opportunity to approach wildlife quietly and observe them in their natural habitat.

Another location in Kenya that is ideal for horse riding is the Chyulu Hills National Park. You can learn more about it by reading our blog.


The Aberadere Park has more than 290 bird species. Some notable bird species include the Mountain Buzzard, Sunbird, Rufous Breasted Sparrow hawks, and the Jackson Francolin bird.

Whereas there are many bird-watching areas within the park, the most popular travel sites are:

  • Chania Falls and River: It attracts common bird species, such as kingfishers, waterfowl, and egrets.
  • The Moorlands: This ecosystem is home to several high-altitude birds such as the Aberdare cisticola, spine chat, and scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird.
  • Karuru : Bird watchers at Karuru can see several bird species such as the olive ibis, Mountain greenbul, and the African green pigeon.
  • Satima Peak: This is one of the highest peaks of the ranges and is home to popular birds such as the African goshawks, and the augur buzzards.

Waterfall Exploration at the Aberdares Park

Karuru waterfall in the aberdare ranges

The Kenya Aberdares Park has plenty of waterfalls you can explore So, which are some of the most famous?

1. Karuru Falls 

Karuru is one of Kenya’s tallest waterfalls, with a total drop of 273 meters. In addition, it is surrounded by dense montane forests, and the waterfall plunges dramatically over a series of rocky ledges. This sight creates a mesmerizing display of cascading water.

Visitors can access viewpoints offering panoramic vistas of the waterfall and its surroundings. What’s more, the views provide ample opportunities for photography and videography.

In addition, the area around Karuru is rich in biodiversity, with diverse flora and fauna adding to the allure of this majestic waterfall.

Some bird species around Karuru include the Jackson’s Widowbird, Aberdare Cisticola, the Arye’s Hawk- Eagle and the Abbott’s Starling.

Apart from bird viewing, safari tourists can spot wild animals like elephants, hyenas, antelopes, waterbucks, and giraffes.

2. Chania Falls

It is located in the eastern part of the Park, and it is a picturesque waterfall nestled amidst lush vegetation and rugged cliffs. Chania is known for its tranquil ambiance, making it a popular picnic and relaxation spot.

Furthermore, visitors can enjoy scenic views of the cascading water and surrounding landscape. Tourists on a safari will like Chania for its excellent birdwatching opportunities. 

3. Magura Falls and Queen’s Cave

Magura is one of the best-hidden gems within the Aberdare National Park. The location gives visitors a tranquil atmosphere and a sense of exclusivity.

Furthermore, exploring this off the beaten path exposes numerous hidden gems, such as secluded pools, lush vegetation, and rocky outcrops. This waterfall is unique because it flows into the mouth of the Queen’s cave. 

Equally important is that Mau Mau freedom fighters used the Queen’s cave as a hiding spot when fighting for independence. The best place to view Magura waterfall is inside the Queen’s cave.

4. Gura Falls

Though Gura is shorter than Karuru, it is still impressive. It is located on the opposite side of the Karuru and gets water from the Moorlands. From here, the water flows into a secluded ravine and merges with waters from Karuru.

Visitors on a safari in the area can access the fall via a short trek or take images from an observation deck.

5. Chain Falls

Though Chain is smaller, it can be accessed by road as a parking lot is nearby. Moreover, the area around the Chain is ideal for picnicking, trekking, and game viewing. Unlike the other locations, Chain has a makeshift staircase that makes it easy for tourists on an Aberdare Kenya Safari to better access the site

Sundowner and Bush Breakfasts

This experience is best when on a Kenya safari and staying in one of the numerous luxury lodges in the area. Some of the hotels found in the area are:

  • The Ark
  • Sarova Outlander Mara
  • Aberdare Safari Lodge
  • Treetops

Below is a simplified review of the hotels

The Ark

  • Ambiance: Perched on a bluff with a watering hole view, offering a classic sundowner experience with wildlife-watching opportunities.
  • Sundowner Experience: Imagine sipping your drink while animals gather below for their evening drink.
  • Best for Those who enjoy wildlife viewing alongside their sundowner

Aberdare Safari Lodge

  • Ambiance: It offers stunning views of the salient and the Chania River. Offers a more traditional lodge setting.
  • Sundowner Experience: Breathtaking panoramic views with a backdrop of mountain ranges and rivers.
  • Best for Those who appreciate the scenic beauty and a classic lodge atmosphere.

Sarova Outlander Mara:

  • Ambiance: Unique tented camp experience in the park’s heart, offering a more intimate sundowner setting.
  • Sundowner Experience: Enjoy a sundowner amidst the wilderness with a touch of luxury.
  • Best for: Those seeking a unique and luxurious experience under the African sky.

Equally important is the famous Treetops Lodge Kenya hotel. This is an important hotel because it is at the Treetops Lodge Nyeri where a princess became queen.

Hiking in the Aberdare Ranges

There are several hiking points and routes that hikers can use. One such peak is the elephant hill located 3720 meters above sea level.

To reach Elephant Hill, you will have to trek 26 kilometers. In the process, you will see various wildlife such as lions, Hyenas, and leopards. Similarly, hikers will also see the famous Ndakaini dam, which provides electricity to most parts of Kenya.

Ol Doinyo Satima Peak

Another hiking peak is the Ol Doinyo Satima peak, 4000 meters above sea level. Ol Doinyo Satima is the highest peak in the Aberdares.

A hike to Satima Peak exposes you to magnificent views of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya, and wildlife species such as gazelles and lions.

Aberdare Range Trail

This hiking expedition should only be tried out by experienced hikers. You need to be in good physical condition to try it. Depending on your speed, the hike can take 3 -5 days to complete.

Though challenging, the hike is rewarding because you experience nature in its raw form. The hike exposes you to wildlife such as buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, and colobus monkeys. You will also see beautiful waterfalls and montane and bamboo forests.

Tourists can go hiking using the Aberdare Range Trail. One is the 35 km Salient Cottage route. Another popular route is the Aberdare Circuit, a loop trail that takes in all of the major peaks in the Aberdare Range. This route is about 80 km long and is a much more challenging hike.

To hike the Aberdare National Park, tourists should apply for a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Le Satima Wandare Gate Trail

This trail is ideal for families because it is a relatively easy trail. Also, it is the shortest in the Aberdares National Park.

This is because the trail is 11 km long, and begins in Mweiga near the dense bamboo forest, and ends at Ol Doinyo Lesatima peak. Remember that it will take an average family 7 hours to complete when going on this hike.

Aberdare National Park Entry Gates in 2024

The Aberdare Park has 8 main entry points. These are:

  • The ark
  • Mutubio
  • Treetops
  • Wanderi’s
  • Ruhuruini
  • Shamata
  • Rhino
  • Kiandongoro

The Ark Gate Aberdares

  • This gate is near the Aberdare Country Club, a unique lodge in the heart of the Aberdare National Park.
  • It offers an exceptional wildlife viewing experience with facilities like viewing decks overlooking floodlit waterholes attracting various animals, including elephants, buffaloes, and occasionally, the elusive bongo.
  • Visitors can enjoy guided nature walks and birdwatching in the surrounding forest.

Mutubio Gate Aberdares

  • Mutubio Gate provides access to the western section of the Aberdare National Park, known for its dense forest cover and diverse wildlife.
  • Visitors can embark on guided game drives or nature walks to explore the lush vegetation and spot species such as elephants, leopards, and the endangered Aberdare mole-rat.

Treetops Aberdare Gate

  • Treetops Gate is synonymous with the iconic Lodge, famous for hosting Queen Elizabeth II when she ascended to the throne.
  • This entry point offers stunning views of watering holes and salt licks, attracting various wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, and buffaloes.
  • Visitors can stay overnight at the lodge and witness wildlife activity from elevated vantage points.

Wanderi’s Gate

  • Wanderi’s gate provides access to the eastern part of the Aberdare National Park, characterized by bamboo forests and open moorlands.
  • It’s an excellent starting point for hikes to Elephant Hill, one of the highest peaks in the Aberdare Range.  

Ruhuruini Gate

  • Ruhuruini Gate is located in the park’s southern section, offering access to scenic waterfalls and rivers.
  • Visitors can enjoy picnics by the riverbanks or take guided walks to find flora and fauna, including colobus monkeys and various bird species.

Shamata Gate

  • Shamata Gate is in the northern part of Aberdare National Park and provides access to grassy plains and dense forests.
  • Moreover, it is an ideal entry point for game drives because of the opportunities to spot wildlife such as hyenas, bushbucks, and several cats in their natural habitat.

Rhino Gate

  • Rhino Gate gets its name from the critically endangered black rhinos
  • It offers visitors a chance to participate in rhino conservation efforts through guided tours and educational programs focused on protecting these magnificent creatures.

Kiandongoro Gate

  • Kiandongoro gate is located in the park’s southeastern corner, offering access to diverse habitats ranging from montane forests to moorlands.
  • Visitors can visit the Gura Falls and River, known for their scenic beauty and abundant birdlife, including the rare Aberdare Cisticola.

Each entry point of Aberdare National Park provides a distinct experience, showcasing the park’s rich biodiversity and natural wonders.

Aberdare National Park Entry Fees

The entry fees to the Aberdare National Park for non-residents are currently USD 60 for Adults and USD 30 for children. Residents pay 300 adults and children 215 Kenya shillings. All payments are made through the Ecitizen government portal.


In conclusion, Aberdare National Park is a good place to go on a safari in Kenya. It has numerous things to see and do. Furthermore, the park has numerous luxury lodges that provide luxury accommodations and activities such as bush breakfasts, game drives, and hiking.

Lastly, it is important to note that not all hiking trails are the same. If you are starting, choose a simple hiking trail like the Le Satima Wandare Gate Trail. To book your African Safari at the Aberdares National Park, give us a call for luxury accommodation, and a memorable experience.

Robert K

I am an entrepreneur who spends his time travelling around the country and Africa. I love to travel in Luxury, engaging in outdoor activities and camping in luxurious tents while counting the stars in the sky. My motto is simple: Travel the world and expose yourself to a world of opportunities.

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