Aberdares

As the third uppermost highlands range in Kenya, the Aberdare Mountains offer a distinctive tour of Africa’s pristine bush areas. The combination of thick woodlands and lush green hilltops offer vast views of Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley. Running north to south for more than 100 km (60 miles), the volcanic range has two prominent peaks – Ol Donyo Le Satima and Kinangop. Several rivers flow through ravines that cut into the landscape, and in several locations, the water cascades down cliff faces in the form of powerful and phenomenal waterfalls. In the highest altitudes of these mountains is Aberdare National Park with a total area of 296 square miles (767 square kilometers).

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The unique high-altitude habitats of the park support a variety of large and small mammals, many of which you may see during a game drive. Elephants, rhinos, giant forest hogs, warthogs and other grazers are most easily observed, but hiding in the deep grasses are leopards, spotted hyenas and other elusive predators. Two of Africa’s rarest species are found within the park as well – medium sized reddish-brown bongos and African golden cats. Half-day and full-day game drives are available with us, and you may opt for more than one game drive as both the moorlands and salient deserve at least a half day each at the very minimum.

Your Maasai guide is native to this land and has an extensive knowledge of the animals and habitats. Under his lead, you see giraffes adeptly use their long tongues to extract the leaves of the acacia trees while delicately avoiding the thorns. Nearby zebras stand together to create a dizzying pattern of black and white stripes to confuse a lone cheetah that stands on a mound looking for prey. On the crest of a low hill is a scene that you have imagined for your dream East African tour – a pride of lions laze about in the early morning after a night of hunting while their young cubs attempt to pry morsels from the carcass.

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Dense forests and moorlands cover most of the area along with grasslands too, and these are sharply cut by rivers that flow through deep ravines and cascade down glorious waterfalls. The unique terrain can be navigated by foot, vehicle and even horseback in the private conservancy surrounding the Aberdare highlands, and you will certainly satisfy your every desire for an adventure-seeking holiday in East Africa. Hiking and leisurely walks are exploratory options for discovering the delicate flora, insects, amphibians and smaller mammals, while horseback safaris at Aberdare Country Club’s private conservancy ignite the romance of a country-style safari experience.

If you want to see the greatest variety of habitats, AfricanMecca can arrange half and full day safari game drives in Aberdare Park. Large herds of elephants and buffalos walk amongst elands, impalas, zebras and other plains animals, and the ever-watchful predators are close-at-hand, yet well-hidden, such as serval cats that are found in the moorlands. You may also want to visit the other-worldly moorlands of Ol Donyo Le Satima, the third highest in Kenya. During good weather, a 4×4 vehicle can manage the road to the foothills of the “young bull mountain”, and at 3350 meters (10,990 feet), the scenery is shrouded in mist, and the landscape is dominated by erica, lobelia, groundsel and other odd-looking alpine flora that reaches 6 meters (19 feet) in height.

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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.

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The waterfalls of Aberdare environs are some of the most beautiful in the East Africa, especially the 894-foot Karuru Falls. Also available further northwest of Aberdare Park is Thomson’s Falls Lodge, which sits next to one of the best falls in Kenya that you will see during your AfricanMecca scenic vacation – the 72-meter (236 feet) cascade of Nyahururu Falls or its colonial name of Thomson’s Falls.

The lodge features 32 guest rooms in budget cottages that were built in the 1930s. Staying outside the Aberdare National Park gives you quick access to many activities that are not allowed inside the park, such as horseback riding, golf and other sports, all while being only a short drive from the entrance to Aberdare Park.

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Outspan Hotel offers 45 guest rooms that reflect the style of the 1920s, and your room options are standard, deluxe and cottage. The country setting is ideal for leisurely walks on the property and lounging next to the swimming pool. Aberdare Country Club is situated in the Aberdare highlands on the slope of Mweiga Hill. The “old English cottage” design aesthetics of the 48 cottage rooms are charming and homely, and the views are breathtaking.

Weather

Global warming has introduced a level of uncertainty in the rainy and dry seasons, so the following information should be considered as general guidelines. Aberdare experiences a cycle of dry seasons and rainy seasons. The long dry season, which we consider to be the best time to visit the park, is from July to October. These are also the coolest months of the year, with average monthly maximum daytime temperatures ranging from 21 C (70 F) to 23 C (73 F).

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Monthly minimum nighttime temperatures are fairly consistent at 11 C (52 F), so you should bring extra layers of warm clothing for your evening and morning activities. The short rains arrive in November and December, and these rains have little if any impact on your activities as the moisture tends to evaporate quickly. The short dry and humidly hot season is in January and March with some pockets of rain, followed by welcoming the long and heavy rainy season of April and May.

In late March and early June, you may experience light rains. From November to March, average monthly daytime maximum temperatures are 23 C (73 F) to 25 C (77 F), and daytime temperatures can drop slightly to 21 C (70 F) from April to June. Minimum nighttime temperatures range from 9 C (48 F) to 11 C (52 F) during these months.

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