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Aberdare Range
Waterfall in Aberdare Range
Highest point
PeakMount Satima
Elevation3,994 m (13,104 ft)
CoordinatesLua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Aberdare Range is located in Kenya
Aberdare Range
Location in Kenya

The Aberdare Range (formerly, the Sattima Range, Kikuyu: Nyandarua) is a 160 km long mountain range of upland, north of Kenya's capital Nairobi with an average elevation of 3,500 metres (11,480 ft). It is located in west central Kenya, northeast of Naivasha and Gilgil and just south of the Equator.


The Aberdare Range forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley running roughly north to south.[1] On the west, the range falls off steeply into the Kinangop Plateau and then into the Great Rift Valley. On the east, the range slopes more gently. Lake Naivasha and the distant Mau Escarpment can be seen from peaks in the range.[2]

The range has a maximum elevation of 3,994 metres (13,104 ft)[3] above sea level and is heavily-forested. The former name of the range survives in Mount Satima ("the mountain of the young bull"), the highest peak in the Aberdare Range. The second-highest peak, at the southern end of the range, is Mount Kinangop at 3,906 metres (12,815 ft). Mount Kenya, 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro lies east of the Aberdare Range.

The Aberdares are the water catchment area for the Sasumua dam and the Ndakaini dam, which provide most of the water for Nairobi. The mountain forests are catchment areas for the Tana River, the largest river in Kenya, supplying water to the Seven Forks hydroelectric power plant, which generates over 55 percent of Kenya’s total electricity output.[4]


The main ecosystems within the mountain range are rainforest giving way to dense bamboo forests and then moorland. The steep western edges of the hillside are sparsely inhabited by wildlife compared to the forested gentle slopes to the east, which are home to a wide variety of wildlife. There are multitudes of elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog as well as the endangered Black Rhino. A variety of cats including leopards and the rare African Golden Cat. Other threatened species including the Jackson mongoose, the black and white Colobus monkey and Sykes monkey are plentiful, as are waterbuck, reedbuck, duikers, serval cats and bushbuck.[2]

The Aberdares contain a rich diversity of vegetation. There are 778 vegetation and plant species, subspecies and varieties found in the Aberdare National Park, due to the park's altitude and rainfall. Hardwood trees include camphor, Cedar, Podo and Hagenia.[4]

Much of the range has been protected within the Aberdare National Park since its creation in 1950. The range attracts large numbers of hikers and climbers operating out of the main centers of Naivasha and Gilgil. The lower slopes are farmed, higher areas are known for their wildlife. The Rhino Charge is an annual event run by conservationists in Kenya to pay for fencing of the Aberdare National Park as a means of protecting East Africa's largest indigenous forest from destruction.


The Aberdare Range was named by Joseph Thomson in 1884 in honour of Lord Aberdare, who at the time was President of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society.[5] Aberdare was also a Liberal politician who had served as Home Secretary from 1868 to 1873. He was later to become the first Chancellor of the University of Wales.[6]

The area is well known as the headquarters of Dedan Kimathi, leader of the 1950s KLFA Uprising.[7] Also, Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom while vacationing in the Aberdares.[2] It was also the site where J.A. Hunter killed the Rogue elephant of Aberdare Forest.[8]


  1. "Aberdare Range -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2008-03-17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rees, Melinda. "The Aberdare Mountain Ranges (Nyandarua Range), Africa". Retrieved 2008-03-17.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  5. Peter Robson, Mountains of Kenya (East African Publishing House, 1969), p. 41
  6. 'Aberdare, Henry Austin Bruce, 1st Baron (1815-95)', in Magnus Magnusson and Rosemary Goring, eds., Chambers Biographical Dictionary (5th edition, 1990), p. 5
  7. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  8. The Rogue Elephant of Aberdare Forest, From Hunter, J.A Hunter, HarperCollins, 1952

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