Photo by Nina R.

Experience the Splendor of the Aberdares

Forming the eastern wall of East Africa‘s Great Rift Valley, the Aberdare Mountains of Kenya’s central highlands have inspired humans for centuries. Today, their wildest areas are protected by Aberdare National Park and neighboring reserves.

The scenery is dramatic. While steep slopes reach up to 14,000 feet, waterfalls and rushing rivers carve deep ravines between the peaks.

And, of course, there’s the wildlife! Here, you may see black rhinos, lions, Cape buffalos, baboons, giant forest hogs, spotted hyenas, and the rare African golden cat. Love birds? Search for more than 250 species including eagles, sunbirds, turacos, bulbuls, and plovers.

elephants with Aberdare Mountains in the background at Aberdare National park in Kenya

Elephants walk in front of the Aberdare Mountains. Photo by Kim van der Waal.

Diverse Beauty

Most of Aberdare National Park is at high altitude and consists of alpine meadows. The lower slopes of the mountain range are protected by Aberdares Forest Reserve and Kipipiri Forest Reserve.

Here you won’t find the open, grassy savannas that define many parks in Kenya. Instead, you get a mix of plants and wildlife you can’t see at other destinations. They are spread over three zones: montane rainforest lower on the slopes, bamboo forest higher up, and moorlands around the top.


Lush rainforests carpet the park’s valleys and foothills, providing homes for colobus monkeys, leopards, elephants, and the rest of the Big 5.

Plant life in the rainforests varies. Although junipers, African pine, and brittlewood dominate the west and northwest slopes, broadleaved yellowwood and ocotea are more common to the east and southeast.

red bongo antelope with fine white vertical stripes

Bongo antelopes live in the bamboo forests of the Aberdare Mountains. Photo by Mathias Appel.

Bamboo Forests

Bamboo forests ring the mountains at 8,000 to 11,000 feet. Here, you might find the elusive bongo antelope. Although it’s the world’s third biggest antelope, it is not easy to find. Why? Unlike many antelopes, it is most active at night.

large antelope grazes on grass

The eland is the largest antelope in Kenya. Photo by David Clode.


Grassy moors with low-growing plants like heather dot the higher elevations. The landscape is stunning all year. But it’s even more of a treat when the plants go into bloom.

In this range, you may find leopards, as well as antelopes that vary in stature from the rabbit-sized suni to the horse-sized eland.

Visiting Aberdare

Aberdare National Park is ideal for game drives, picnics, camping in the moors, trout fishing in the rivers, and bird watching.

Would you like to see Aberdare at night, but don’t want to camp? Consider staying at one of the lodges within the park. The Ark and TreeTops Lodge are located next water holes, offering amazing views of safari animals such as elephants, hyenas, and Cape buffalos. Snap close-ups of wildlife from an observation lounge or nearby photographic hide.

Contact Ujuzi to plan your Aberdare safari!

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