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Kenya Safari Page 3 - Aberdare National Park - The Ark

Africa Kenya Aberdare National Park The Ark Speckled Mousebird

Africa – Kenya – Aberdare National Park • A Speckled Mousebird inspects an empty Ark bird feeder

The Ark is a lodge named for its somewhat boat-like shape, and because, as on a boat, you stay on board.  There are no game drives or walks to be taken here, as this location is covered in thick forest.  Instead, a watering hole is the draw for wildlife – which you view from an assortment of decks and glass enclosed rooms.  A long raised wooden walkway provides both the entrance to the building and a good platform for birdwatching.

With all the emphasis on “The Big Five” (elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, and rhino) and the many other amazing mammals and reptiles of Africa, it might seem like faint praise to recommend a certain place for its bird population.  But you don’t need to be a “birder” to appreciate The Ark, and if you are, this may be one of your favorite Kenya safari stops.

Among the surprises to be found in Aberdare National Park is the evening temperature.  You might assume that it’s always warm at the equator, and leave your coat at home, but the Central Highlands of Kenya will cause you to improvise with at least a long-sleeved shirt and your raincoat once the sun goes down.

The forest of Aberdare provides a cool and beautiful contrast to the wide open spaces of the other parks, but an overnight stay at The Ark is a completely inadequate basis on which to base any conclusions.  One of the most famous of the safari lodges, Treetops, is also located here, though it no longer seems to appear on anyone’s recommended list despite its almost mythological fame.  Also, there are interior roads into and through the park which we did not take, so the majority of the park is still a mystery.

Africa Kenya Aberdare National Park The Ark Cape Buffalo

Africa – Kenya – Aberdare National Park • The Ark Lodge watering hole attracts a Cape Buffalo

Having provided the appropriate caveats, it is probably no surprise that The Ark was not the highlight of our tour.  For big game viewing, reduced to a single word, the experience could probably be best described as claustrophobic.  Regardless, having an eyeball level encounter a few feet from a Cape Buffalo is pretty exciting, even through plate glass.

We did not return to the Ark or Aberdare on our return trip to Kenya in 2008, but it is important to note that, like Lake Nakuru National Park, Aberdare is a short trip by vehicle from Nairobi.  On a future visit it will be an easy choice to explore Aberdare again without the guided tour.  There is undoubtedly a good reason why this area is a national park, and a bit of curiosity will probably be well rewarded.

The middle of the Central Highlands area, which also includes the Mount Kenya National Park and Ol Pejeta Conservancy, is the hub for a concentration of great destinations.  Because of the easy highway access around the hub, and short spokes leading to such places as Samburu, Meru, and Lake Bogoria, a perfectly good travel plan for Kenya can be based from this area alone.

One of the shortest drives of the trip brought us from The Ark to Sweetwaters Tented Camp in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, so named because it is owned and managed by a private foundation rather than the government of Kenya.  Passing through the towns and farms in the highlands is a very enjoyable experience in its own right, and we have far better wildlife photos than those from Aberdare, so this is a good place to share some scenes from the road.

Africa Kenya Central Highlands Aberdare Area

Africa – Kenya – Central Highlands • Left and Right: An imaginative sign for an exceptional craft and art store • Center: Agriculture provides the backdrop for road trips through the highlands of Kenya

 

Kenya Travel – Page 1

Page 2 – Kenya Safari – Amboseli National Park

Page 3 – You Are Here

Page 4 – Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Page 5 – Kenya Safari – Ol Pejeta Wildlife and Scenery

Page 6 – Nanyuki – Mount Kenya Safari Club

Page 7 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara National Reserve

Page 8 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara Wildlife

Page 9 – Masai Mara – People and Trees

 

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