| The lowest part of the park is the eastern, called the Salient, beginning at 2,100
m outside Nyeri Town and sloping upwards towards the west. This is a forested area where
the Aberdare's main tourist attractions are situated. They are Treetops Lodge and The
Ark (see below), two tree lodge
where the main activity is game viewing from the lodge.
The forests have a nice wildlife,
including elephants, rhinos, African buffalos, various antelopes,
bush pigs, and cats such as lions, leopards and servals. Black
(i.e. melanistic) servals and leopards are sometimes seen. The
rare African golden cat is said to be present in the park, but
has not been recorded by documented observations. Another rare
species is the bongo, a forest antelope that visitors with some
luck may spot around the lodges.
Monkeys may be seen, including the black-faced vervet monkey,
which is also seen in many savanna parks, the black-and-white
colobus and the blue monkey, the latter two seen in forests
only. Crowned eagles, hornbills, turacos and montane sunbirds
are some of the forest and mountain birds to look for.
Game viewing at night
The main activity when staying
in Treetops Lodge or The Ark is watching the wildlife from the
lodge. Both have waterholes that are lit by night, which is
an interesting time for game viewing. You may see not only nocturnal
animals such as genets, white-tailed mongoose and porcupines,
but also shy species such as bongo and bushbuck.
Light-sensitive binoculars (such as 7x50 or 8x50) can be used
in floodlight, while you can't see much, if anything at all,
in compact binoculars.
More about binoculars
A majority of the visitors to Aberdare
National Park come to stay in a tree lodge in the Salient, while
the other parts of the park have few visitors. It is a park
of great beauty, offering a rewarding day or two away from the
crowds, should you venture further into it than to the tree
lodges. Don't expect to see the same good numbers of animals
as in the main savanna parks, such as Masai
Mara. Instead, enjoy the scenery and the bird life.
Apart from the lodges and hotels below, there is also accommodation in bandas
inside the park and in camping
sites just outside. There are also hotels of different standard in the towns around
the park, for example in Nyeri.
Treetops Lodge is one of the most famous lodges in Kenya. It's located
in the Salient, just inside the park border, and is built next to a waterhole
where wildlife comes to drink. The waterhole is floodlit at night, and the main
attraction of this lodge is the night game viewing. Don't expect too much, though.
The lodge has been around for half a century, and the area is just inside the
park border, not very far from farmlands etc. Both factors affect the wildlife,
and the numbers of animals seen may vary a lot from visit to visit.
The lodge is a large wooden building on stilts, looking like an oversized tree
house. There are 50 small rooms, many of them overlooking the waterhole. The bathrooms
are communal. There is a large restaurant, and a bar overlooking the waterhole.
You get the best views from the roof terrace. The stairs at the southern end of
the lodge lead to a ground-level observation room, where you may get close to
animals outside, especially at night. The tree house design includes many narrow
stairs leading, so you need to manage stairs to enter the building and move between
your room, the restaurant, the observation decks etc. Children younger than 7
years are not allowed to stay in the lodge.
Web site: www.aberdaresafarihotels.com
Outspan Golf and Country Club just outside Aberdare National Park is where
visitors to Treetops Lodge meet before being transferred to the lodge by bus.
It has some 40 rooms and 3 cottages, all with ensuite bathroom, satellite television,
Internet, and balcony or veranda. The hotel has dining room, bar, lounge, swimming
pool, and squash and tennis courts. It offers game drives in Aberdare, bird walks,
fishing and outings in the surroundings. When we have visited, it has not shown
a 'country club' standard.
Web site: www.aberdaresafarihotels.com
The Ark is also located in the Salient area of eastern Aberdare National
Park, but further west into the forest and at higher altitude than Treetops Lodge.
It has 60 rooms with private bathrooms, restaurant and bar. It's newer than Treetops,
and has the same game viewing concept. Children younger than 7 years are not allowed,
except for during special children's nights.
Aberdare Country Club
is close to Nyeri east of Aberdare National Park, a 45-minute drive from the
Ark. It has some 45 rooms with private bathrooms and balconies. There is also
a restaurant, bar, conference facilities and swimming pool. The country club offers
activities such as golf, horse riding, tennis and trout fishing. It also has a
5 km2/2 sq mi sanctuary where animals can be seen.