Hello! This post is about our visit to Aberdare National Park and our stay in The Ark Lodge.
One of our friends recommended this place, saying it is worth visiting even during a rainy season. As you may know, not every Kenyan National park is accessible during the rainy season.
The park is located about 100 km north from Nairobi, it took us almost 3 hours to get there one sunny Saturday. The roads are really nice to this National Park and one can easily get there not only without 4×4 but also without a SUV itself.
Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 square kilometers and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range. The park contains a wide range of landscapes - from the mountain peaks that rise to 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above sea level, to their deep, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls.
According to Wikipedia, it is a traditional belief of the Kikuyu that the Aberdare Mountain Range, where this park is located, is one of the homes of Ngai, or God.
There are different types of accommodation inside the park, ranging from the Treetops tree-house lodge, to the Ark - built in the shape of Noah's Ark - and three self-help banda sites, eight special campsites and a public campsite in the moorland. There are also 5 picnic sites.
This time we stayed in The Ark Lodge. And didn't not feel sorry for that.
But first of all one may pay attention that if you are staying in the Ark Lodge you should come first to Aberdare Country Club, where you will have lunch and leave your car on their parking as well as The Ark Lodge does not have any place dedicated for parking cars. This was done I guess for preserving nature and making animals feel better and more relaxed what is really Eco-friendly, I think.
At first we didn't understood why we had to leave our car somewhere, and take bus to another place. This was an unusual procedure for us, and it was for the first time we experienced it in Kenya, but it was really comfortable and the idea that they are trying to reduce number of cars driving inside the park.
All in all the Aberdare Country Club is a magnificent renovated colonial-era property itself and it is definitely worth visiting. There are wildlife living on the property and you may meet Pumba on the neat golf course. We had our lunch there and the food was great. The rooms are arranged in pods so you are most likely to feel like you have your own cottage. The grounds are impeccable and there are peacocks and other birds roaming around. There is also a spa and the pool.
So after lunch our bus was ready to take us to The Ark Lodge. It was quite a game drive (app. 30-min drive) in the park during which we saw many animals.
Than we arrived to Noah's Port and walked over the bridge to the main entrance of the lodge.
The lodge is arc shaped and designed to give you a feel of your stay on a ship. The rooms are a bit small, naturally because of the type of the hotel, the bathrooms could have been also bigger. Though everything was very clean and well kept.
On the other side you don't come here for luxury, first class accommodations. If that's your thing forget about this place whlie knowing you're missing an incredible opportunity to view animals in their natural settings. The watering hole just in front of all viewing points is magnet for all sorts of wildlife such as elephants, water buffalo, rhinos, leopards, warthogs, impala, a huge variety of birds. Unfortunately we did not spot leopards or rhinos on the night we stayed.
It's hours of entertainment really because you can watch how animals interact with each other in their natural habitat.
They also have an afternoon bird feeding on the bridge that allows you to get some great shots with your camera. We also managed to see a quarrel.
This is where the dinner and breakfast are served. Very nice place with window walls. The food was also tasty, though not gourmet.
Ark provides excellent nighttime wildlife viewing. From here, visitors can observe various animals, such as elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino, which get attracted to the waterholes.
Waking up pretty early in the morning we had a great chance to see a sunrise. The view from the veranda and terrace were amazing, although get up early if you want to catch a glimpse of Mt Kenya without the cloud covering it.
To sum up, The Ark Lodge is a great place to stay for one night, relax and watch animals.
For visitors-to-be I would like to give some Tips:
- Take lots of warm clothes. Its freezing with the chilly wind at night especially if you want to go to the outside viewpoint.
- The rooms have no locks, so it's best not to carry any valuables, especially jewellery, etc. Camera equipment is unavoidable, but try and keep it on you.
- Do not miss bird feeding in the afternoon and animal feeding after dinner. A very cute wild cat comes to the stairs outside the lounge for dinner every night. It is given a large dish of meat and a runny egg and it was really fun to watch its darting here and there as it gobbled up the food delicately.
- The staff kept trying to get us to extend our stay there, saying that one night is not enough. Since we went there just for a weekend, we could not even if we wanted to, when in reality, the one night was a lot of fun and more than enough.