This 296-square-mile (767-km2) park of luxuriant forest includes much of the Aberdare (renamed Nyandarua) Range of mountains. The park can be divided by altitude into two sections. A high plateau of undulating moorlands with tussock grasses and giant heather lies between Ol Doinyo Lasatima (13,120 ft./3,999 m) and Kinangop (12,816 ft./3,906 m).
This region affords excellent views of Mt. Kenya and the Rift Valley. Black rhino, lion, hyena, buffalo, elephant, eland, reedbuck, suni, bushpig and, very rarely, the nocturnal bongo can be seen. On the eastern slopes below lie the forested hills and valley s of the Salient, home to black rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, giant forest hog, and black -and-white colobus monkey.
The park is also rich in bird life, including many species not easily seen elsewhere. The moorlands and montane forest are home to Jackson’s and Moorland francolins, Aberdare cisticola and Cape eagle owl, as well as various eagles and buzzards. Several species of dazzling sunbirds, the ecological equivalents of the American hummingbirds, occur on the mountains and are frequently seen in the gardens of the various camps and lodges.
Kenya’s highest mountain and the second highest on the continent, Mt. Kenya lies just below the equator, yet it has several permanent glaciers. Mt. Kenya’s two highest peaks, Batian (17,058 ft./5,199 m) and Nelion (17,023 ft./5,188 m), are accessible by about 25 routes and should be attempted only by experienced rock climbers. Point Lenana (16,355 ft./4,985 m) is a non-technical climb that is accessible to hikers in good condition and is best climbed in the dry seasons.