Mount Kenya & Aberdare

Aberdare National Park

The Aberdares are an isolated volcanic range, which are located to the west of Mount Kenya, just north of the equator. The range has recently been renamed to Nyandarua, but the old name continues to stand. The park is located in the Aberdares unique ecosystem. These mountains are according to the traditional Kikuyu culture one of the homes of their Ngai, God. This 4000 meter volcanic range has beautiful V-shaped valleys forming rivers through the Aberdares, eventually creating an important water catchment area for Kenya. These tributes eventually form into the Tana River and the Athi River. The runoff water also feeds into the Northern drainage basins. Between the two main peaks on the Aberdares lies a saddle of alpine moorland. The streams, waterfalls, rugged terrain help create an area of great scenery. Fog and regular periods of cold are an astonishing phenomenon in an African country like Kenya and usually not expected. The flora and fauna of the Aberdare's are in abundant. Icy lakes are rich in trout and the sloping hillsides where amongst others, elephants have their home.

Spotting of game is can be very worthwhile: Lions, leopards, baboons, Sykes monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys are all in abundance. With a lot of luck you may sight the Golden cat. For birdwatchers the park offers a unique opportunity because of the incredible variety of birds. There are more than 250 species recorded, including Jackson's Francolin, Sparrow hawk, African hawk, eagles, sunbirds and plovers. Elephants, African buffaloes and giant-forest-hogs graze in the dry months around and in the bamboo-zone and rainforest. Once the first rains come they move to the moors on the plateau and into the lower parts of Treetops Salient. The Aberdares are completely surrounded by an electric fence, this on the one hand to protect the local farmers from elephant raiding their field for crops and on the other hand against the poachers and loggers. In the Aberdare you also find Kenya's endangered black rhino. The Rhino Ark Trust organises fundraising events to finance the maintaining and building of the fence. Another animal that lives in Aberdare and is unfortunately no longer spotted in many other places is the Bongo. This is a rare type of Antelope which mostly is active at night, but is known to occasionally feed in daytime. The animals mostly live in pairs or families and in the period after calving groups may grow up to 35 animals. The spotting of the bongo's is a difficult task, because these antelopes usually dwell deep in the woods, especially during the sunlight hours. When you are in luck to have spotted a Bongo you will probably first notice

Mount Kenya

Kenya's highest mountain (5199 meters) with its snowy peaks is almost a stark contrast to the dry grasslands around it. Equally intriguing is the fact that this colossal diamond is located just north of the equator. It is widely acknowledged as the world's most perfect model of an equatorial mountain. The legend goes that the Kikuyu God 'Ngai' lived on the top of this mountain. Two of the three peaks, Batian and Nelion, rise above Mount Kenya National Park, which is one of the world's highest parks. The lower part is formed by Mount Kenya Forest Reserve and contains the largest number of species of indigenous trees in Kenya. In the high valleys a large number of spectacular mountain plants thrive - even some large examples of their alpine cousins. Unique high-altitude moorland dominate just below the glaciers and snowfields. In the higher altitudes wildlife include the rock hyrax, endemic mole rat and sometimes eland and zebra can be found. Further down the animals vary from the whitetail mongoose and colobus monkeys to the black rhino and lion. There is a fascinating display of forest and moorland birdlife - endemic green ibis, rare Abyssinian long-eared owl, Hartlaub's Turaco and a variety of beautiful sunbirds to mention a few. The third highest peak Lenana (4985 meters) can be climbed during the dry season from January to early March and July to early October.

Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and is wrongly placed in the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro in neighbouring Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro is climbed by many through the various non-technical climbing routes and is more known and popular. Mount Kenya offers a wealth of more versatile and excellent opportunities for rock, snow and ice climbing and is often seen as a bigger challenge than the so-called "Kili" climb.

Recommended accommodation in and around Aberdare and Mount Kenya:

Treetops Lodge, Outspan and Serena Mountain Lodge

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