The Aberdare Ranges is located in Western Central Kenya in close proximity to Mount Kenya. Traditionally the Kikuyu tribe who resided on the Eastern slopes of the range related this two mountain closely. They believed that their God “Ngai” had his sleeping hide “ndaruwa” spread out on top of the mountain and this is where he’d rest after a hard days work from the top of Mount Kenya. Legend has it that the original name of the mountain Nyadaruwa derived from the local peoples comparing the shape of the flat mountain top to that of a cow hide spread out the way they’d spread their hides to sleep on. The Maasai tribe who resided on the Eastern side of the mountain had their own name for the range known as Oldoinyo la Satima. This to date is the name of the highest peak on the Aberdares standing at 4001m (13,120 ft.).
The Aberdare Range comprises a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley. It is a heavily forested range, with average elevation ranging from 12,000 to 13,000 feet that supports a sprawling moorland above the forest zone dotted with giant heather, tussock grass, open forest glades and rosewood. Much of the Range is contained within the Aberdare National Park. The topography is diverse with deep ravines that cut through the forested eastern and western slopes. Animals are easily observed in the park and include; the Black Rhino, leopard, baboon, black and white Colobus monkey and sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include those of lions, the golden cat and the bongo- an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland and spotted and melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands.
Visitors can also indulge in picnics, trout fishing in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson's Francolin, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers. This park’s hallmark is it’s dramatic waterfalls which include Chania falls and the giant Karuru falls among others. Hiking in the park or to the summit is uncommon but a very unique experience. It offers one of the best acclimatization opportunities to those intending to climb mount Kenya or Kilimanjaro.