The Aberdares at the Right Price
I live in one of the most diversely beautiful country’s on the planet, that ranges from snow capped mountain peaks to white sandy beaches in tropical climates, from vast savannahs to temperate mountain forests. So much beauty and yet so much of it is inaccessible to so many of my fellow Kenyans, usually due the fact that visiting many of these places is so costly, it’s not affordable to the majority of people and there is also a lack of awareness about much of the beauty that Kenya beholds.
I love to travel around Kenya by road, as it allows you to see the country from a different perspective and also allows you to stop where you want and immerse yourself in the culture of some of the local, charming towns dotted around Kenya.
One thing that I have noticed on my road trips is that many of these beautiful places do not have the facilities (infrastructure) to attract people to come and visit that town and explore. By this I mean, accommodation that is affordable, clean, good standards (customer service, food, services) and accessible, though it is starting to emerge in some parts of the country.
Despite the rumours about Kenyan roads and traffic, if you can leave Nairobi early enough and beat the rush, driving out of Nairobi is pleasant with many beautiful locations 2-4 hours drive away, however where can you go without breaking the bank?
I love to visit the moorlands of the Aberdares for a quick escape from Nairobi. There are a number of ways to get up there (via Naivasha, via Nyeri driving up through the salient in the Aberdares National Park), but my preferred route turns off the Nairobi- Naivasha road at Njambini to enter the Aberdares National Park through the Matubio West gate, and takes a maximum of 3 hours from Nairobi on very quiet, smooth roads. Though it would be best to use a 4×4 when in the Aberdares, I have met a few people visiting in their Toyota saloon cars, which might not be suitable, but is definitely possible if you stay on the main roads while in the park.
The Moorlands of the Aberdares is beautiful and gives you the feel that you are in a foreign country, similar to the Scottish Highlands with cool climes, weather that can change from sun to thick fog in minutes. Game viewing is tougher in the Moorlands, but that makes it more rewarding. On my most recent visit I saw the usual, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Buffalo…and was lucky enough to encounter 3 Wild Dog and 1 bull Elephant.
Along with game viewing the Aberdares is one of the only National Parks in Kenya that allows guests to walk on foot and fish the various rivers for Trout.
There are properties that you can stay at in the Aberdares, but like I said, you might not find something that is reasonable and comfortable. I enjoy staying at the KWS fishing lodges/cabins when I visit the Aberdares. Each cabin sleeps 7 people in 3 bedrooms (comfortably), is spacious with a living area and fireplace to keep warm, a fully stocked kitchen (cutlery, crockery and gas cooker) and hot water showers.
All of this at a very reasonable price, however it is self-catered and you have to come with your own food and drink (carrying some dry firewood is also recommended). If you have 7 people, as I did on my last trip, the total cost comes to about 5,000 shillings per person per night (including park fees at a Kenya citizens rate). There are staff who look after the cabins and they are very helpful with any needs you may have while up there.
The tranquility of waking up to silence (no kitchen noises from the lodge kitchen, no dining room chatter from other guests), surrounded by greenery at what feels like the top of the world doesn’t compare to anything else. The fresh, crisp air is rejuvenating and the Aberdares gives you a connection to nature that not many parks can offer. Visit the Aberdares and reconnect with nature.