Aberdare National Park (715 sq. km)
Situated ten kilometers north-west of Nyeri town and about 165 kilometers from Nairobi, the Aberdares range was first recorded by Joseph Thompson in 1883. It is part of an ancient group of extinct volcanoes about 100 kilometers north-north-west of Nairobi which rise to a height of 3998 meters (13,120 ft.). Both Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares form the highest peaks of the Kenya Central Highlands and also the countryís major water catchment areas. They were set up as National Parks in 1949 and 1950 respectively for the protection and preservation of their indigenous forests as a water catchment areas, as well as the wildlife splendor, scenic moorlands and Mountain Climbing adventures.
The rangeís eastern slopes are covered with thick forests which give way to the Bamboo-Hagenia Zone at higher altitudes. In the Bamboo-Hagenia zone, trees are hung with long strands of lichen, the "old manís beard", as in Mt. Elgon with large multitudes of ferns, mosses and orchids along their trucks and branches. After the forests are open moorlands cut here and there by rocky-outcrops, hills and sharp-rugged rocks interspersed with thickets of giant heath. As on the rest of East African mountains, the moorlands are covered with a special kind of vegetation called Afro-Alpine where giant forms of heath, Groundsels, Erica and Senecio grow above the forest belt. Crystal clear streams cut through the moorlands and the forest, forming numerous rivers which flow over a series of waterfalls dominate the scene.
The rare, shy and elusive Bongo inhabits the higher bamboo zone and the hypericum scrub between the thick forests and the moorlands. Common forest zone mammal species include: Elephant, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, Leopard, Spotted hyena.
In the moorlands are found: Eland, Bush duiker, Black fronted red duiker, Rhino, Silver-backed and Side-striped jackal, Impala and Lion. It is the best area to see Black melanistic leopard, Black serval cat and Black genet. Birds are plentiful with Jacksonís and Scaly Francolin, Kenya Crested guinea fowl and birds of prey like Crowned and Ayres Hawk eagle.
Accessibility is through Nyeri Town via Mweiga Park HQs and on the park gate. An alternative route is through Naivasha on the road that crosses the park from the west. The Aberdares two lodges- the Ark and the Treetops are specifically designed to view the animals after dark. Both offer floodlit salt licks and ponds that can be observed from various viewing areas in the lodges.