Aqua fresh mountain air, the glorious views, peace and tranquility. This is the country’s highest Mountain with several places of interest….Sweet Waters Game Sanctuary and Tented Camp, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Naro Moro River Lodge and Serena Mountain Lodge. At 5,199 m. high, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain. It offers easy or challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty.
To the Kikuyu tribes people it is the home of the Supreme Being: Ngai, a name also used by the Maasai and Kamba tribes. In traditional prayers and sacrifices, Ngai is addressed by the Kikuyu as Mwene Nyaga: the Professor of Brightness. The name comes from Kere Nyaga, the Kikuyu name for Mount Kenya, meaning Mountain of Brightness – Ngai’s official home.
Part of the mountain’s fascination is the variation in flora and fauna as the altitude changes. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest, the true montane forest begins at 2,000 m. is mainly cedar and podo. At 2,500 m. begins a dense belt of of bamboo forest which merges into the upper forest of smaller trees, interspesed with glades. In this area the trees are festooned with high altitude moss.
These forest belts are host to many different animals and plants with at least 11 unique species. Game to view includes: Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant and lower down Olive Baboon, waterbuck, black rhino, black fronted duiker, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cat, bush pig and hyena. More elusive is the bongo, a rare type of forest antelope.
A number of other rare or endangered species can be found here: Sunni Buck, Mt Kenya Mole Shrew, skinks (lizard), and a variety of owls. Occasional sightings have been recorded of albino zebra.
The high altitude heath at the top (3,000 – 3,500 m.) is generally open, dotted with shrubs: African Sage, protea and helicrysum. The peak (above 3,500 m.) is moorland, with little game other than high altitude zebra and eland common in the northern moorland.
There is only one lodge inside the Park, seven climbers huts and three self-help banda sites. Just outside the Park there are three lodges and another self-help banda site.
ABERDARES NATIONAL PARK
The Aberdares National Park is part of the Aberdares mountain ranges; the mountain range slopes on the western side of the wall, adjacent to the Rift Valley, are steep compared to the eastern slopes. The eastern slopes, due to its contour and altitude make it favorable to the wildlife habitat. The Aberdares Mountain ranges peak at a height of 4000 meters above sea level. Aberdares mountain ranges are part of Kenya’s well-known mountains. Some others are Mount Kenya, Mount Meru, Mount Longonot, and Mount Elgon.
Although AfricanMecca, Inc. refers to Aberdares National Parks ranges as Aberdares, it has actually been renamed to The Nyandarua(s). In 1884, Joseph Thomson, a British explorer, christened the Aberdares after Lord Aberdare.
Aberdares was confirmed a national park in 1950, two years after Amboseli National Park. The vegetation of the reserve is separated between the high moorland and the “Treetops and The Ark” Salient, where there is an abundance of wildlife. The mountainous moorlands have three peaks namely: The highest, Ol Doinyo Satima located on the northern edge, Kinangop in the south and Kipipiri near the “happy valley” in the west.
The Aberdares Park can be accessed via four gates: Wanderis, Kiandongoro, Shamata, and the Rhino gate.
Because this region of the country is blessed with good rainfall, many tourists also opt for a one day fishing safari on the Karura and Chania Rivers. The controlled swollen rivers put forth a challenge to skilled trout seeking anglers.
The Aberdares also has three falls, the Chania, Gura and Karura Falls created by the above-mentioned rivers. Viewing of the falls can be done, if accompanied by an armed guide. The Karura Falls has the deepest drop, plunging more than 300 meters, and has two viewing stations on either side.
There is a wide variety of animals seen at the Aberdares National Park. Some of the most commonly see are: bongos, buffalos, elephants, lions, serval cat, warthogs, bushpigs, eland, bushbucks, reedbucks, Sykes monkey, and rhinoceros. A note about rhinos: the Aberdares National Park contains one of the fewest surviving population of black rhinos as opposed to the white rhinos. The Rhinoceros are mostly “looked after” by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Your safari vehicle driver normally drives you to the location of these wonderful creatures, where they were last seen.
Finally, the Aberdares National Park also holds a place in history. It was a hideout location for the Mau-Mau rebels in their struggle for an independent Kenya from their colonial rulers.