The Aberdares National Park
The Aberdare National Park in the central highlands of Kenya retains an air of mystery – you can only imagine what undiscovered creatures still lurk here, such as rare Black Leopards. The Aberdares are an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern wall of the rift valley, running about 100 Km north-south between Nairobi and Thompsons Falls. This beautifully scenic region is much cooler than the savannahs and offers a completely different perspective on the country. The national park lies mainly above the tree line. The scenery is spectacular with its mountainous terrain covered in thick tropical forests swathed in mist.
Herds of wildlife: Herds of wildlife thunder over an open African horizon, elephants emerge from a thicket of plants and the mysterious black rhino munches tranquilly on leaves. This is Aberdare National Park, packed with 300m-high waterfalls, dense forests and serious trekking potential. Also commonly seen here are buffaloes, black rhinos, spotted hyenas, bush pigs, black servals and rare black leopards.
Wildlife: The forest is home to the very elusive and beautiful Bongo antelope. Unfortunately, numbers have decreased over the last few decades and sightings are extremely rare. The park is a great place to see nocturnal animals, including the giant forest hog and large-spotted genet.
Getting there: Aberdare National Park is located 160km/100mi north of Nairobi and 20km/13mi southwest of Nanyuki. The drive from Nairobi takes about two and a half to three hours. There are daily scheduled flights to the Nanyuki airstrip. Getting to Nairobi is easy as this is one of the biggest transport hubs on the continent. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
Where To Stay: If you prefer to stay inside the park, The Ark and Treetops are the only choices you have. The Ark has 60 guest rooms and Treetops has 36 rooms, and both of these accommodations are situated next to watering holes where wildlife species congregate. You need only to relax in the observation lounges to watch elephants, buffalos and other thirsty herbivores.
One of the most exciting aspects of these two accommodations is that each guest room is equipped with a buzzer to alert you of crepuscular animals that arrive to drink during the night, such as the elusive leopard, spotted hyenas and other stealthy predators.