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Aberdares National Park

Aberdares National Park

Information on Aberdares National Park in Kenya.

1. General Information. The colonialists recognized the Aberdares as fertile grounds for the growth of coffee, tea, wheat and flowers who ultimately had no regard for the local population. As such the infamous Mau Mau leader and freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi had his headquarters in the thick forest of the Aberdare mountain range. The Aberdare National park forms part of the mountain ranges, which peak at a height of 4000m above sea level. The Aberdares are part of Kenya's well-known mountains.

Aberdares was accorded national park status in 1950. It is renowned for its famous and luxurious tree- house hotels- Treetops lodge and The Ark; the former hosted the then and young Princess Elizabeth of Britain in 1952. The park covers a total area of 800 kilometers square. Following an extension in 1950, the park became the third largest park in the country and has the coveted position of, highest park in all Africa, as most of the plateau is located above an altitude of 3,000m.

2. Getting There. The park is located 160km north of Nairobi. It is readily accessible on tarmac from Nyeri (154 km from Nairobi), Nyahururu (188km from Nairobi) and Naivasha (87km from Nairobi). For those who prefer flying, Mweiga airstrip next to the park headquarters and Nyeri airstrip are of service. The Park can be accessed via four gates: Wanderis, Kiandorogo, Shamata and the Rhino gate.

3. Major attractions. The park is host to a myriad of animals: elephants, lions, rhinos, black leopards, the elusive but breath taking bongo antelope, monkeys, warthog can all be seen roaming the park. A note on the rhino: rhinos are a protected species especially the black variety and the Aberdares National Park is host to the few surviving ones. The Kenya Wildlife Services is charged with protecting them.

Other attractions that await tourists are the three falls: Chania, Gura and Karura which have been created by the rivers Karura and Chania. Karura falls have the deepest drop marked at 300metres and have two viewing stations.

Thought of as a blessing in disguise, the park experiences heavy rainfalls that can put off safari companies and individual travelers but not the zealous tourist who can indulge in fishing in the Karura and Chania rivers. Nocturnal game viewing provides good entertainment and learning experience. For those into meditation in the wild, walks in the moorlands, twin hills elephant hills and Table Mountains can enable this.

Vegetation in the park is thick, characterized by wooded hills and mountains making it easy for one to get lost. The mountain air on the other hand is fresh and clean and the Aberdare rainforest is a water catchment area for the whole of Nairobi.