Expert Reviews – Aberdare NP
Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.
The easiest wildlife watching in Kenya
The scenery is truly wonderous at this sky-high park, where East Africa’s savannahs are left far behind and temperatures plummet. Instead you’ll find valleys carved between soaring forested peaks, waterfalls, thick bamboo forests and moorlands all shrouded in misty drizzle.
There are only two places to stay, both designed for package tourists. But the experience is something special. I stayed at The Ark, a 4-storey lodge perched on a forested bluff where guests peer out of windows, or off balconies, at a floodlit waterhole and surrounding grasslands to view elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, giant forest hog, and, if lucky black rhino. If that all gets a bit much you can retire to your room where a series of buzzers lets you know when something interesting is outside!
It has a very packaged feel but if you like sipping a glass of red by the open fire while watching elephants play around in mud baths just outside, then this is the experience for you.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
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Treetop hotels are offering a different kind of safari
A visit to this densely forested park in the highlands of Kenya is a nice change from the hot savanna reserves. Buffalos, elephants, bushbuck and monkeys are readily seen. You can drive around the park and you should pick up a fair amount of game, but I love settling down for a couple of days in one of the tree-lodges, which act as hides on stilts within the park. Treetops and The Ark both offer an almost unique experience. They both date back to colonial times and the stuffy atmosphere has been maintained to a huge degree. Both overlook a waterhole. A saltlick almost guarantees a good stream of animals coming past on every given day. At night, with spotlights on, the viewing continues. One of my highlights was witnessing an interesting standoff between a black rhino and her calf and a group of hyenas.