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 large population of black rhino. The Park is also home to a number of endangered species including the rare bongo, giant forest hog, packs of the now very rare wild dogs and endemic mole rats and mole shrews.

More easily observed are black and white colobus monkey, Syke’s monkey, elephant and buffalo. 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.

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 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. The facilities are not 5 star but 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.

A very exciting and recent development is that we have established a four day trek through the length of the Aberdare range, camping on the way, supported by armed rangers, guides and porters.