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Aberdare National Park - Kenya Safaris

The Aberdares is the established name of a mountain range, which thrusts directly north from Nairobi for more than 160 kilometers. The intrepid Scot Joseph Thomson, who explored the region, named the range after the President of the Royal Geographical Society 1883. The Kikuyu name Nyandarua is slowly gaining prominence. Part of the range is protected as the Aberdare National Park and encompasses all land over 3200 meters together with a projection due east known as The Salient, which reaches down to 2130 meters near Nyeri town. The park is a fairyland, awesome in its majesty and beauty.

Crossing the Aberdares Mountains is an unpredictable event since rain is both frequent and heavy. The highest point of the range is Ol Donyo Satima, which means the mountain of the young bull in Maa, the language of the Maasai, which reaches 3998 meters. There is a road that traverses the mountains from Naivasha to Nyeri, which can be handled by a sturdy car in good weather. At its maximum elevation the road passes through misty moorlands at about 3350 meters, where strange six meter tall mutants of alpine plants: groundsel, erica, hypericum, lobelia and sennecio - grow in profusion. Icy rivers plunge in glorious cascades and spectacular waterfalls. The salient, which thrusts a dense forest through rich farmland, is where both Treetops and the Ark are situated.

The Salient's origin lies in an elephant migration route between the two mountains. The forest is rich in wildlife; elephant and rhino, warthog, bush pig and giant forest hog, waterbuck, duiker, suni, dikdik, bongo and reedbuck are all to be seen. On our many return visits to the Ark, in June 2003 we had the opportunity to see a male and female rhino with ease from The Ark during the evening hours at the
Aberdare National Park. In the canopy the black and white colobus monkey performs its aerial acrobatics and Sykes' monkey and the black faced vervet can also be found. The carnivores are represented by: lions, usually more hairy and spotted than on the plains, leopard and serval cat, the latter often seen on the moorlands and sometimes in its melanistic state. Birds are not only dazzling but also plentiful. The crowned eagle (which eats monkeys) is everywhere and the forest echoes to the shrill cries of the Silvery-cheeked hornbill. The resplendent sunbirds are well represented, among them the brilliant metallic violet Tacazze, the emerald green Malachite Sunbird and on the moorlands the Scarlet tufted Malachite Sunbird, with its very long slender tail. The number of visitors to the Aberdare National Park is high in the park rankings but this is because of the Ark and Treetops. The park itself is still very much under-visited despite its grandeur and its powerful vistas.

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