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The Aberdares is an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern wall of the rift valley, running roughly 100 km north-south between Nairobi and Thomson’s Falls. Soils are red and of volcanic origin, but rich in organic matter. There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999 metres) and Kinangop (3,906 metres) separated by a long saddle of Alpine moorland at over 3,000 metres. The topography is diverse with deep ravines that cut through the forested eastern and western slopes and there are many clear streams and waterfalls. The Aberdares are an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers and part of Central Rift and Northern drainage basins.
The National Park lies mainly above the tree line running along the 10,000 ft (3,048 metres) contour with some forest and scrub at lower altitude in the ‘salient’ area near Nyeri with the boundary running down to the 7,000 ft (2,296 metres) contour. The unusual vegetation, rugged terrain, streams and waterfalls combine to create an area of great scenic beauty in the National Park.
Attractions: Lesatima Peak, Kinangop Peak, waterfalls, walks in the moorlands, Twin Hills, Elephant Hills and Table Mountains. Second largest population of black rhinos in Salient and northern Aberdare. Queen Elizabeth II learned of her accession to the British throne at Treetops lodge. The Kimathi Hideout/Mau Mau caves.
Wildlife: The park is home to most of the larger mammals, having a large population of black rhino. The park has endangered species including the rare bongo, giant forest hog, packs of the now very rare wild dogs and endemic mole-rate and mole shrew. Other game includes leopard, serval, endemic bird species, reptiles and insects.
Roads: The park is readily accessible on tarmac from Nyeri and Naro Moru on the eastern side (160 km from Nairobi). A road crosses the park to connect with another from Naivasha and North Kinangop in the west. The main towns from which the park can be approached are Nyeri (154 km from Nairobi), Nyahururu (188 km from Nairobi) and Naivasha (87 km from Nairobi).
Airstrips: Mweiga Airstrip is next to the park headquarters or Nyeri Airstrip is 12 km from Mweiga headquarters.
Where to Stay: Mweiga and Nyeri both have a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, from basic campsites to upmarket lodges. In the Aberdares, there are two well appointed Forest Lodges, built around waterholes and saltlicks.
There are also campsites and huts for trekkers. These are separately administered and space should be booked and paid for in advance. On an organized trek or climb, hut accommodation or camping is usually included.