Aberdare Mountains National Park
Aberdare Mountains National Park, established in 1950 and probably most famous for treetops gets her name from the Aberdare or Nyandarua mountains which are an isolated volcanic range that forms the easternmost wall of the Gregory Rift Valley, to the east of the high Kinangop/Laikipia plateau. There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima at 3,999 m to the north and Kinangop at 3,906 m to the south, separated by a long ‘saddle’ of land above 3,000 m. The small peak of Kipipiri at 3,349 m flanks the main range to the west, linked to it by a formerly forested valley at around 2,700 m. Deep ravines cut through the forested eastern and western flanks, and there are many clear streams and waterfalls. Mist and rain occur throughout much of the year, with precipitation varying from 1,000 mm on the drier north-western slopes, to as much as 3,000 mm in the south-east. The vegetation varies with altitude
The National Park lies mainly above the tree line, with some forest and scrub at lower altitudes in the so-called ‘salient’ near Nyeri. The Aberdares Forest Reserve of 103,300 ha large occupies the lower slopes, in three main blocks that almost surround the park, with Kipipiri Forest Reserve of 5,100 ha tacked on to the east. The Aberdares are extremely a vital water catchment for the Tana River system, for the northern Ewaso Nyiro River and Lake Naivasha, and provide much of the water supply for Nairobi and adjoining Districts.
Among the many to see in the Aberdare mountains include; African Lion, Leopard, Baboon, Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys, Sykes monkey and many more. There records of a sighting of the elusive Golden Cat and the Bongo Antelope which is known to live in the bamboo forest.
Birdwatching Aberdare National Park
The park boasts of an over 200 species bird checklist including the globally threatened Sharpe’s Longclaw, Aberdare Cisticola, Abbott’s Starling, and Jackson’s Widowbird. The range-restricted Aberdare Cisticola occurs locally in the tussock moorland, with densities of around 3.2 birds/ha in suitable habitat; more than 20,000 pairs are estimated to occur. The Red-tufted Sunbird is found on high peaks, foraging mostly on lobelias while other montane Sunbirds are common at slightly lower altitudes.
The park has records of five of the eight species of this Endemic Bird Area and fifty-three of the seventy bird species of the Afrotropical Highlands biome that occur in Kenya.
The Aberdare region also contains three other Kenyan Important Bird Areas, namely; Mukurweini Valleys that are located in the south-east of the Aberdares- an ideal habitat for Lantana species hence a suitable area for Hinde’s Babbler. This is a unique attraction at a small, privately owned- Wajee Camp bird sanctuary. Kikuyu Escarpment Forest which is a southerly continuation of the Aberdare forest yet with some species which aren’t found in the Aberdares, namely; Orange Ground Thrush, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet and Abbott’s Starling which is scarcely researched. Kinangop Grasslands which are on a plateau west of the Aberdares. The Kinangop grasslands are the primary spot for the Sharpe’s Longclaw, one of Kenya’s national endemics.
It was at the famous Treetops hotels where British Princess Elizabeth learned that she had become Queen in 1952 on news of her father’s death.