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The Aberdare National Park
The Kikuyu, the largest of Kenya’s tribes, believe the Aberdare Mountains are the home of their God, Ngai and with altitudes ranging between 7,000ft and an amazing 14,000ft the Aberdare National Park has several beautifully mystical waterfalls.
There are paths leading to purpose built platforms on which to watch and enjoy the Chania Falls and the Karura Falls, however, the most beautiful of all the waterfalls, the Gura Falls are unfortunately less accessible. The water catchment supplies Thompsons Falls and channels water to the Tana and Athi Rivers.
The Aberdare Mountains run north to south for some 60kilometres through the central highlands area of Kenya with the volcanic peaks forming part of the Great Rift Valley’s eastern ramparts. The Aberdare National Park covers an area of 800 square kilometres which was designated a National Park in 1950 and it is located a manageable 160 kilometre drive from the capital, Nairobi. Composed of two distinct areas, the park has high moorlands which contain three peaks and the lower Salient which is cloaked in thick rainforest and home to more wildlife.
This is a remote park which has only two safari lodges which both provide a very intimate and personal safari experience. The park is the highest in Africa with soaring mountains; deep valleys carved by streams and a diverse landscape including rainforest areas that support elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog and a rare forest antelope known as the Bongo. Additionally the park is also home to one of the most endangered wildlife species on the Planet – the Black Rhino.
The Tree-tops Hotel, in harmony with the surrounding nature, is constructed around massive tree trunks, raised high on stilts and sheltered by a dense lichen draped forest. The open wildlife viewing deck and comfortable observation lounges overlook two waterholes and guests can also enjoy views of the distant snowy tips of Mount Kenya. The lodge is positioned on an ancient elephant migratory route and together with the watering holes ensure that the wildlife come right to the foot of the structure. The lodge has a royal connection with the United Kingdom as it was here at Tree-tops that Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on the passing of her father.
Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement was buried in the Aberdare area at nearby Nyeri town.
The Ark is also a tree lodge although constructed in the shape of the actual Ark with open decks and lounges that provide superb views of the wildlife. The lodge has a unique view of the Yasabara waterhole which is perhaps the largest salt-lick in the Aberdare Mountain range. Access to the area has vehicular restrictions to protect the fragile natural habitats of the wildlife which includes Sykes monkey, leopard, elusive bongo and the rare suni and genet cat.
The Aberdare National Park is also a haven for bird watchers with over 250 different species recorded including sparrow hawks, African goshawk, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.
For the more active visitors it is ideal terrain to enjoy a walking safari in conjunction with the game drives as well as fishing and horse riding.