Camping in the Aberdares National Park

Part of our Safari camping in the Northern circuit includes a stop to camp in the Aberdares the day before taking the trip up North to Samburu and Laikipia. In this guide, we will discuss what to expect while camping in the Aberdares, how to prepare for the experience, and other tips and tricks.

When camping in the Aberdares, you can expect a unique experience. The terrain is quite rugged and rocky, so sturdy hiking shoes are a must! Camping sites tend to be located away from roads and other tourist attractions, so you will likely have a lot of peace and quiet. Wildlife sightings are also quite common in the Aberdares, with elephants, buffaloes, and even leopards spotted from time to time.

When is the Aberdares located?

The Aberdares are located within the central highlands of Kenya and stretch from Nairobi to Thika, covering an area of over 3,500 miles. The highest peak is called Ol Doinyo Lesatima at 14,354 ft (4,372 m).

What stands out with this Aberdares camping location in Central Kenya is that it offers stunning views of Mt. Kenya, the highest peak in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also find numerous waterfalls and rivers winding through the Aberdares, creating breathtaking scenes.

Key reasons to camp at the Aberdares:

1. Incredible views of Mt. Kenya:

With breathtaking views of Mount Kenya, you can enjoy incredible sunrises and sunsets from the Aberdares. From the Aberdares, the foothill to climb Mt. Kenya is only 2 hours away, making it an exciting opportunity for those wanting to climb the mountain.

2. Wildlife sightings:

The Aberdares are known for its wildlife viewing opportunities, with numerous animals calling this mountain range home such as elephants, buffalo, antelope and even leopards. You can expect plenty of wildlife sightings while camping in the Aberdares.

3. Unique terrain:

The terrain of the Aberdares is quite rugged and rocky, making it a great place to go on hikes and exploring. The variety of vegetation and wildlife makes the Aberdares an exciting place to explore, with something new around every corner.

Some of the great waterfalls include Karura Waterfall, Karuru Waterfall and Gura Falls.

Some other great things to do include

  • Hike Mount Satima and face the Dragon’s teeth. Dragon’s teeth is a rock formation that rises from the middle of the mountain and is visible from the lower slopes.
  • Visit the Aberdare National Park for a glimpse of some of Kenya’s most beautiful wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos.
  • Trek up to Kinangop peak: if you’re a fan of trekking, the 6-hour hike to Kinangop peak is well worth it. You’ll be able to take in some of the most spectacular views in the country and enjoy a picnic meal along the way.
  • Explore the Mighty Rurimeria moorlands: These moorlands are said to be a haunt of the Ngai, an ancient and mysterious people who’s believed to have lived in this area since before the Great Rift Valley was formed
  • Hike the Elephant hills and the Table Mountains: Elephant Hills are considered the hardest trekking in the Aberdares, so if you’re looking for a challenging climb, this is the place to go. The Table Mountains offer an excellent view of Mt. Kenya and are great for taking photos.
  • Visit the Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi hideout: This hideout was used by Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi during the struggle for independence against the British in Kenya. A visit here will allow you to learn more about Kenya’s history and culture.
  • Explore the Mau Mau caves: The Mau Mau caves were used by freedom fighters during the Kenyan struggle for independence against the British. A visit to these caves will give you an insight into Kenya’s rich history and culture.
  • Visit Lake Rutundu: This beautiful lake is located in the heart of the Aberdares and is a popular spot for camping, hiking, and fishing.

What to expect while camping in the Aberdares:

1. Far from tourist attractions:

Most of the campsites in the Aberdares are located away from roads and other tourist attractions. You can expect a quiet, peaceful experience without too many interruptions. Similar to Mara Conservancy’s campsite called Kijito closest to both Tanzania and Lake Victoria, the Aberdares is the ultimate wilderness experience.

2. Rugged terrain:

The terrain of the Aberdares is quite rugged and rocky, making it a great place to go on hikes and exploring. Sturdy hiking shoes are a must! Also, be sure to bring plenty of water as you will be in hot and humid conditions most of the time while camping in the Aberdares.

3. Limited amenities:

In some campsites you may find basic amenities such as toilets, but it is always best to come prepared with your own supplies such as food and water. Most campsites also don’t have electricity or running water, so be prepared for a more rustic experience.

How to camp in the Aberdares:

Step 1: Find all the campsites in the Aberdares:

There are several campsites located in the Aberdares, and each one offers a unique experience. Research online or ask around for recommendations to find the right place that best suits your needs and preferences. Get to know what each campsite offers and pick those with showers and toilets. Some sites such as Reebark Campsite have basic amenities such as showers and toilets.

Step 2: Make your reservation:

Once you’ve decided on the perfect location, make sure to book ahead of time in order to guarantee your spot. Most campsites require at least two weeks’ notice, so it’s best to plan well in advance.

Step 3: Pack the right camping gear:

Be prepared for camping in the Aberdares by packing the right gear. Sturdy hiking shoes, a sleeping bag, a waterproof tarpaulin, warm clothes, insect repellent, firewood and emergency supplies should all be included in your camping bag.

Step 4: Check in:

Once you arrive at the campsite, make sure to check in with the staff or security personnel. They will provide you with all the necessary information about safety and regulations for camping in the Aberdares.

Step 5: Enjoy your stay:

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy your camping experience in the Aberdares

Campsites in the Aberdares:

Reedbuck:

This is my favorite campsite located within the Aberdares National Park. To get here, you’ll need to drive to Aberdares and from the Kiandogoro gate and Mutubio gate, it is 2.5 km and 9km away. As a person who likes fishing, I’d choose this any time because it is close to a Fishing Lodge. Some people are drawn to it because it is next to Sundowner View Point. Sundowner View Point is a hilltop that offers a magnificent view of Lake Naivasha, Mount Longonot and Lake Oloiden.

We recently stopped by this camp without really camping the night as I was interested to learn of the infamous 2-year-old reserve where the Late Queen Elizabeth found out she was going to be the Queen back in 1952. The Park was established in 1950 in order to protect Aberdare Mountains and its ecosystems.

Yeah, wanted a Safari camp destination with some history to go back and chew or perhaps read more about. This is the camp for that.

In this camp, you’ll need to carry your own gear but has these facilities as per its KWS page;

  • Toilet
  • Piped water
  • Benches
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen (fire place)

Aside from camping, here are things to do here;

  • Bird watching: This campsite has plenty of birdlife including sunbirds, francolins, and tawny eagles.
  • Hiking: You can take part in a guided walk to explore the region’s vegetation and wildlife.
  • Fishing: There are several fishing spots around this camp where you can try your luck with trout and tilapia.
  • Picnicking: Pack a light meal and soak in the breathtaking views of Lake Naivasha, Mt. Longonot, and Lake Oloiden.

To access this camp, you’ll need to book with KWS by paying Kes. 200 for Kenyan Citizens and $20 for non-residents.

  • Park Fees — Citizen/Resident: 250/- (adults) 200/- (children);
  • Non-Resident: $30 (adults) $20 (children)
  • Camping Fees — Citizen/Resident: 200/- (adults), 150/- (children);
  • Non-Resident: $20 (adults), $10 (children)

To get to Reedbuck Ranch and camp, it will take you about 2 to 3 hours to cover the entire 160 km stretch from Nairobi to the escarpments. You can also fly to Mweiga Airstrip from Wilson Airport and will take you about 20 minutes to get to Mweiga. You will, however, need to get a 45-mins ride from the other side of the Park to this camp.

If you want to book this campsite, call this number 0772-403665 or email their official email; aberdaresw@kws.go.ke. I tried calling the listed number didn’t go through though.

Ruhuruini:

Our second camp is a public one. It has less facilities compared to Reedbuck as it only has a pit latrine. Talking of bare basics.

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