Our third national park encompasses the Aberdare Mountains, home to the Kikuyu tribe and named in 1884 by explorer Joseph Thomson in honour of the president of the Royal Geographical Society.
It was made into a park in 1950, and Elizabeth II famously became Queen here in 1952 (her father died while she was staying at Treetops Hotel). In the 1960s many Mau Mau rebels had hideouts here, but today the only danger is posed by the odd leopard (sadly, we didn’t see one!).
On the way to the park, we stopped at Thomson Falls near Nyahururu, a famous training hub for Kenya's champion long-distance runners. Samuel Wanjirŭ, the first Kenyan to win the marathon at the Olympics, calls Nyahururu home. Along the way, we saw a few atheletes training along the road.
The Aberdare National Park is home to 250 types of bird and 44 different mammals, from elephants to striped mice, but lions are no longer among them – they were relocated after concerns they were killing too many animals, especially the rare Bongo antelope.
Black rhinos are also endangered here; thanks to illegal poaching - their numbers have declined from 450 in the 1970s to just 20 today (we didn’t see one of those either). The park is now surrounded by a 400km high-voltage fence to keep out the poachers.
Access to the park is strictly controlled via just two unique lodges, Treetops and our hotel, the Ark. To get to the Ark you start at the Aberdare Country Club, an English-style stone complex built in the 1920s, where we had lunch.
Most of the park is over 7000 feet up, and when we visited it was chilly, misty and damp – but very atmospheric!