aberdare national park

Aberdare National Park

(Kenya)
Aberdare National Park

Background

Aberdare National Park protects the mountain range of the same name. 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. All the Big Five are present. Buffalo and elephant are common, and there is a chance to see black rhino at one of the tree hotel waterholes at night. Lion and leopard tend to stay at higher altitudes in the park and are difficult to spot. Black-and-white colobus monkeys are a real treat, while bushbuck and waterbuck are particularly common.

Aberdare is a scenically diverse area. And as with any mountain range there are different habit zones at different altitudes. The tree hotels are set in beautiful forest country. At higher altitudes are bamboo forests and Afro-alpine moorland set among steep ridges with beautiful waterfalls and river valleys. Aberdare’s proximity to the equator means that temperatures don’t change much from month to month. It does, however, get colder the higher you go in altitude. Temperatures also plummet in the Dry season (June to September), especially at night and early in the morning. Rain is a constant companion in the park. Heavy falls occur year-round, though more frequently in the Wet season (October to May).

Aberdare National Park

Wildlife Experience

Aberdare National Park is home to all of the Big Five. However, it is not a typical Big Five destination. Bushbuck and defassa waterbuck are very common and sightings of elephant and buffalo are almost guaranteed. Leopard and black rhino are sometimes spotted at one of the tree hotel’s floodlit waterholes at night. Lion is rarely seen. The park is a refuge to many interesting forest creatures, including several primates such as black-and-white colobus monkey and sykes monkey. Nocturnal animals, including giant forest hog and large-spotted genet, often visit the waterholes at night. The forest is also home to the very elusive and beautiful bongo antelope. Unfortunately, numbers have decreased over the last few decades and sightings are extremely rare. Wildlife viewing in the Aberdares is good throughout the year. Heavy rain occurs year-round, but June to September and December to February are the driest months. When staying at one of the tree hotels, the rain shouldn’t interfere with your safari. Elephants and some antelopes disperse to the higher altitudes during the Dry season.

Locate the Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park | Birdlife

The forests and moorlands of Aberdare National Park are a birder’s paradise – more than 290 species have been recorded. The striking Hartlaub’s turaco is just one of the interesting visitors at the bird feeding platforms at the tree hotels. The indistinct Aberdare cisticola is endemic, and therefore unique, to the region and can be found at higher altitudes. Several interesting sunbirds are found in the park including the rare scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird which can be found on the mountain peaks. Aberdare National Park offers good bird watching throughout the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa are present. This partly coincides with the Wet season when many species can be seen in breeding plumage as they are nesting. Most of the forest and moorland specials are however resident throughout the year, so the drier months (from June to September and December to February) might be a good compromise for bird watching and forest hiking.

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