From Tsavo we travel back to Nairobi before climbing up into the forests and moorland of the Aberdare Mountains in search of giant forest hog. Giant forest hog are found in the dense forested slopes of the Aberdare Mountains and Mt Kenya as well as the rain forests of central Africa. Only discovered by modern science in 1904 they are always difficult to find largely because their habitat means they are inevitably hidden by thick vegetation. The network of forest tracks, close to Tusk Camp, in the Aberdares Salient is one of the best places to search for them.

The forests and moorland of the Aberdares are home to a range of animal and bird species that are only found in the highlands of Kenya. Other unusual animals include Chandler’s mountain reedbuck, bongo (very rare) and a number of different duikers as well as healthy populations of black rhino, leopard and serval cat. Game viewing and bird watching here is difficult and exciting. The heavily forested slopes mean the large herds of buffalo and elephant can remain invisible until you suddenly turn a corner and come across them and all too often the only thing you see is the rear end of an animal as it disappears down a forest trail.

More easily observed are black and white colobus monkey, Syke’s monkey. On the moorland, there are occasional rare sightings of lion, golden cat and the melanistic form of the serval cat. Bird viewing is also rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, many of which are endemic.

The Park is very different from most of Kenya’s other parks and is not on many tour companies’ agendas. The contrast between the Aberdares and the better-known plains of the Maasai Mara couldn’t be greater. On the high moors, looking a bit like the Scottish Highlands, it can seem a little surreal to see elephants tramping through the heather.

There are limited accommodation facilities in the park. The Kenya Wildlife Service manages a few self-catering cottages and huts within the park. Those up on the moorland tend to cater for trout fishermen fishing the mountain streams. Tusk Camp is located on the edge of the Salient with outstanding views towards Laikipia and Mount Kenya. The rooms can sleep up to 8 people with a shared bathroom and hot shower. In a separate building are a fully equipped kitchen and a living area with a log fire being very welcome during the cold nights.  There is no electricity and kerosene lamps are provided by the caretaker at night.

Although the camp boasts a flush toilet, there is also a long-drop latrine, in a separate outhouse, with a stable door allowing you to sit and enjoy the views north towards Mount Kenya. Although the facilities are not 5 star the accommodation is perfectly comfortable and provides  visitors with a very different experience. There is excellent access into the Salient, where it is quite common not to see another vehicle, or up onto the remote, and equally quiet, moorland.