The Aberdare has always been a favorite park of mine, and today it lived up to my highest expectations.
Day 2 of the Cronan Family Safari: we left Nairobi early, around 730a, because I wanted to get to one of the waterfalls at the top of the park for lunch. The new Thika road helps, and although a long way from being completed in its 10-lanes of glory, traffic moved much more quickly than over the old road.
It was an absolutely picture perfect day! Bright, cool with few thick, white clouds and a sky so clear we could see Mt. Kenya literally from Thika! We pulled out of Nyeri onto the Nyayo tea plantation road and my long-time driver, James Ngugi, stopped to explain tea farming to everyone… He is, besides a driver/guide, a tea farmer.
We then went through the buffer forest intent on finding colobus but only saw sykes. After the electric fence and proper gate we immediately saw evidence of elephant, which we found all day long.
Most of the park’s game is down towards the periphery where Treetops and The Ark are found, but the adventuresome spirit of my family drove us further up the mountain towards the waterfalls.
The park is in spectacular condition after heavy rains. Everything was in bloom, including many orchids. Our lunch at Chania Falls was almost too wet.
On the way down we saw Jackson’s francolin and mountain reedbuck, but the colobus was still eluding us. We’d see dozens of buffalo, lots of waterbuck and warthog, and constant evidence of (but no sighting) of elephant.
Then about 4k from the lodge we came across a wonderful troop of colobus fortunately not too high in the forests and we got great views. As we pulled into The Ark I could see elephant by the waterhole, but not until we got down into the open turret was the real scene revealed.
At least 30 elephant from several families were digging salt among buffalo and bushbuck. And it grew even more dramatic when another two families stormed in from the side. A truly fantastic first day out on safari!