Here is a list of the best things to do in Aberdare National Park, which is about 100 km north of Nairobi and covers an area of only 766 km2, stretching across a wide range of topography at altitudes ranging from 2000 m to 4000 m.

The park was established in May 1950 to protect the Aberdare Mountains and their surrounding wildlife, which stretch from Nairobi in the east to Nyahururu in the west and cut through several administrative counties.

The Aberdare Range cuts across Nyandarua, Nyeri, Muranga Kiambu, and Laikipia counties. In short, the Aberdare range is about 160 kilometres long. The park contains a large area of alpine moorland vegetation, primarily above 3,000m. The two main peaks of the mountain ranges are Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999m) and Kinangop (3,906m). 

Aberdare National Park is a dense tropical forest with deep ravines and dissecting riverine gorges. In certain areas, these rivers form majestic waterfalls that leave a sight to be admired. The Karuru Waterfalls are massive and fall in three steps (1st step at 117m, 2nd step at 26m, and 3rd step at 130m) for a total of 273m. Another interesting waterfall is Chania Waterfalls, and there are several other smaller waterfalls.

Best Things To Do In Aberdare National Park

1. Game Drives and Bird Watching

The Aberdare National Park is rich in flora and fauna. The park plays host to a wide array of wildlife including the Cape Buffalo, the African Elephant, the African Wild Dog, the Leopard, the Side-Striped Jackal, the Giant Forest Hog, the Eland, Duiker, Suni, Reedbuck, Bushbuck and Waterbuck, the Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, Sykes Monkey.

Rare viewings include those of the Bongo, an elusive forest antelope that dwells in the bamboo forest, and the African Golden Cat. Animals such as the spotted and melanistic Serval Cats and the Elands can also be seen on higher grounds in the moorlands.

The Park is also a known birdwatcher’s haven with more than 290 bird species that can be sighted including the Mountain Buzzard, the Sunbird, Jackson’s Francolin, the Goshawks, Ayre’s Hawk Eagles, Plover, the endangered Aberdare Cisticola, the African Fish Eagle and more.

2. Spotting Wildlife from the Ark Lodge

The Ark Kenya offers guests a sporadic experience to observe wildlife since it is situated inside the Aberdare National Park. The lodge overlooks a waterhole with saltlicks to attract wildlife so they can be observed throughout the day from the comfort of the lodge. There are numerous decks, balconies, and lounges from which guests can watch the continuous comings and goings of animals around the waterhole. The floodlight also allows viewing throughout the night.

3. Trout Fishing

Trout fishing is one of the famous activities in the park, for which visitors generally reach the ice-cold Gura, Karuru and Chania Rivers.

4. Mountain Hiking 

Aberdare National Park hosts some of Kenya’s best moorland hiking trails. Aberdares trails are good preparation hikes, particularly if one planning a more challenging mountain climbing such as Mount Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro. However, natural beauty and the splendour of distinct vegetation, indigenous trees, forest covers, Waterfalls, and rock formations make Aberdare one of Kenya’s most beautiful places.

Some routes allow you to hike a longer stretch to one of the Aberdare Peaks e.g. the Elephant Hill Hike -This is the most famous route on the Aberdare Ranges Hiking Tour. On these routes, you will drive to the base of the mountain range and then hike on foot to one of the peaks and back to the vehicle.

Other short hikes can be done more gently, such as the Karuru, Gura/ Magura and Chania Waterfalls hikes. On these waterfall hikes, you will drive slowly to the starting point as you enjoy wildlife viewing. You will then walk down to the waterfalls and then hike back to the vehicle.

The scenic hike towards the highest summit in Aberdare National Park starts 12km beyond the Rhino Gate. During the drive up, it is possible to spot zebra, waterbucks, warthogs and other wildlife. The hike towards Satima summit at 4000m altitude takes 3 to 4 hours. The first two kilometres are through scrubland, after which the trail emerges on the moorland, which protrudes with imposing rock formations and is dotted with the Lobelia Keniensis, native to the alpine zones of Kenya. The most striking rock formation is colloquially known as ‘Dragon’s teeth’ and is reached after 5 kilometres. The trail runs through this rock formation, after which it is another 2 miles to the summit. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Mount Kenya from the summit. The descent back down is faster and it takes around 2 hours.

5. Amazing Scenery

The mountain forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley, running roughly north to south. The west side falls steeply into Lake Naivasha and then Mau Escarpment, while the east slope is more gentle with views from peaks like Mount Kenya

Aberdare has a wide range of landforms and offers one of the best attractions. From mountain peaks that rise to 4,000 m above sea level to the deep v-shaped valleys crisscrossed by streams and rivers that surge down through the waterfalls to the low levels holding the moorlands, the rainforests as well as the bamboo forests. The rich, red volcanic soil provides the essential growing environment for the indigenous woodland and lies in complete contrast with both the woodland and the mountain’s craggy and striking crests.

The Moorland and the Alpine form a great source of major rivers that flow from Aberdares. Athi and Tana rivers drain into the Indian Ocean. The famed Dragons Teeth is an excellent spot for Rock climbers and offers magical views

6. Explore Kereita Waterfall and Cave

Kereita Forest is located to the south of the Aberdares Ranges and features many natural features and hiking trails. Carbacid trail, one of the major trails, leads to Keraita Waterfall on Gatamaiyu River and the neighbouring cave that is a shelter to a small bat colony.

The trail passes by the Elephant Pool, a huge natural reservoir that Elephants love to drink and relax in. Also, you can enjoy the bamboo walk and view a few Skyes and Black and White Columbus Monkeys.

List Of Best Attractions in Aberdare National Park

1. Le Satima Dragons Teeth Trail

Of all the trails in the Aberdare, The Dragons Teeth is the most beautiful mountain landform. Satima is an excellent spot for Hiking, Camping, and Rock Climbing in the famed Dragons Teeth Valley area.

How to get to Mount Satima via Dragon’s Teeth?

The entrance to the hike at Rhino gate is signposted on the Nyeri-Nyahururu highway It is a 11km drive from the highway to the KWS office at Rhino gate.

2. Mount Kinangop Trail

Also known as Ilkinangop, located in the southern Aberdare parent Range, about 160 km north of Nairobi, Kenya. It’s the second-highest mountain in the Aberdare ranges. Also the fourth-highest mountain in Kenya.

3. Elephant Hills Trail

The Elephant Hill hike is, without a doubt, the most popular trail in the Aberdare Range. The Elephant Hill hike earns different reactions from hikers who dare to attempt it. If you plan to hike Elephant Hill, it is paramount to get this information beforehand.

4. Moorlands and Alpine forests
5. Wildlife and birdlife
6. Major peaks, Kinangop- 3,905m to the south and Ol Doinyo Satima-3,995m to the north
7. Waterfalls – Karuru falls, Chania falls and Gura falls
8. Queens Cave

Aberdare National Park Gates

Aberdare National Park has eight entry gates to access the park including the Ark, Treetops, Ruhuruini, Kiandongoro, Mutubio, Wandare, Rhino, and Shamata gates.

By road, one takes the A2 road out of Nairobi via Thika in Nyeri then the Nyeri-Nyahururu road out of Nyeri where the Ruhuruini, Ark and treetops gates are signposted.

By air, one can take a scheduled chartered flight and there are two good airstrips for chartered aircraft at Nyeri and Mweiga, next to the Aberdare National Park headquarters.

Aberdare National Park Entrance Fee

High Season (July-February)

Citizen/ResidentCharges
AdultKsh 500
ChildKsh 250
Non-ResidentCharges
Adult 60 USD
Child 20 USD

Low Season (March-June)

Citizen/ResidentCharges
AdultKsh 300
ChildKsh 215
Non-ResidentCharges
Adult 35 USD
Child 20 USD

Aberdare National Park Contacts

Contact: 020 2046271

Email: aberdaresw@kws.go.ke