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Aberdares Of Kenya: The Treetops, The Ark And The Forest

Mt Kenya often combines well with the Aberdares, especially for the traveler with a long weekend to explore this beautiful countryside. Aberdares is renowned for the indigenous forests and rolling moorlands. It can be accessed from Nyeri town, through Treetops, Ruhuruini or Ark Gates; from Nyahururu through Shamata or Rhino Gates; or from Naivasha through Mutubio Gate, 50km from the Njabini flyover.

Adventurer and explorer Joseph Thomson named the area Aberdares in 1884 after Lord Aberdare, the then President of the Royal Geographical Society. Aberdares gives you spectacular scenery, especially waterfalls, and is ideal for wilderness trekking with clear tumbling streams and beautiful vegetation. The main waterfalls in park include Gura, perhaps the most precipitous in Kenya, cascading some 300m downstream into some impenetrable ravine. There is also the Karuru Falls, which spectacularly falls into three awesome steps, and the Chania Falls. Both Gura and Karuru were portrayed in the Oscar-winning film Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

Wildlife? Aberdares has an array of large mammals, including black rhinos and elephants. Rhinos are hard to see but elephants are occasionally seen crisscrossing the roads or at the salt licks near the lodges. Other unique animals include the giant forest hog, the bongo and sykes monkeys. The Aberdares also gives insights into some important historical events, having been the base of colonial resistance armies and home to prominent freedom fighters like Dedan Kimathi whose cave and point of capture still exists.

Other prominent people associated with the Aberdares include Winston Churchill, who camped by the Chania Falls on a safari in 1907, and the founder of the Scouts Movement, Robert Baden-Powel, who an a visit to Kenya in 1906, fell in love with the range. It is on the grounds of present-day Outspan Hotel that lived up to his retirement. Abadares also houses the famous tree house, the Treetops. In 1952, Princess Elizabeth ascended to her bedroom a princess and descended the next morning a queen. The hotel is still alive and is a landmark in the Aberdares. It is ideal for accommodation and trasit lunches.

For accommodation in the park, there are several self-catering facilitues like the Fishing Lodge, ideally situated at the centre of the moorland, and offering fantastic views, privacy and a real wilderness taste. This and others can be booked through the Kenya Wildlife Service. Hotels and lodges in Aberdares include Treetops and the Ark, both inside the park and pricey. There is also Aberdare Country Club in Mweiga and Outspan in Nyeri town, as well as the Green Hills Hotel, White Rhino, and Batain Grand among others.

In Nyahururu, Thomson Falls Lodge offers one the chance to picnic next to Kenya’s most spectacular waterfalls.

About the Author: Robert is a tour consultant in Kenya and has planned business and vacation safaris for over 10,000 tourists in the East African region. He is a tour operation- major and involved in National tourism policy development in Kenya.

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