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The Aberdare Park protects two very different environments: the high moorland and peaks, which form the Park's main body, and the lower slopes including the Salient to the east where the vegetation is dense forest and there is considerably more wildlife.

The Park’s diversity and unusual ecosystem means the park is home to a wide range of mammals, including a good population of black rhino. The Park is also home to a number of endangered species including the rare bongo, giant forest hog, packs of very rare wild dogs and endemic mole rats and mole shrews. More easily observed are black and white colobus monkey, Syke’s monkey, elephant, buffalo and the occasional leopard. On the moorland, there are 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.

Below the forested slopes is rich, fertile soil that is farmed extensively by the Kikuyu. The inevitable result has been conflict between the park’s elephants and the farmers. The solution means the Aberdare Park is one of the few Kenyan reserves to be fenced, hopefully putting an end to the conflict. The electrified fence is also proving useful in protecting Kenya’s largest surviving population of black rhino, although, as always, they are difficult to find in the thick forest.

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. Mist and rain occur throughout much of the year, with precipitation varying from around 1000mm yearly on the north western slopes to as much as 3000mm in the south east. Heavy rainfall occurs through most of the year making 4 wheel drive essential and at times the Park is completely inaccessible.

There are limited accommodation facilities inside the park. Lodge accommodation is available at Treetops and the Ark, both raised up and overlooking water holes and salt licks that attract good numbers of wildlife and both operate an alarm system so staff will wake you in the night if you want to see any of the rarer wildlife that comes visiting in the middle of the night. The Kenya Wildlife Service manages a few self-catering fishing cottages up on the moorland, but our favourite place to stay is Rhino Retreat, run by the Rhino Ark Conservation Trust, in a fabulous setting with its own salt like that attracts a variety of wildlife to the house.
Game-Parks Aberdares-1 Amboseli Kakamega Laikipia Maasai-Mara Marsabit Meru Nairobi Ruma Saiwa-Swamp Samburu Shimba-Hills Tsavo-East Tsavo-West