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The Ark Hotel - Aberdare, Kenya

Aberdare National Park - Mount Kenya Region

The Ark is world-famous and one of Kenya's 'must do' experiences. Built to resemble Noah's Ark it floats amid the forests of the Aberdare National Park, joined to the world by its own wooden drawbridge. The Yasabara Waterhole, meanwhile, attracts animals from all over the park - notably large herds of elephant. No private vehicles are allowed within the area, guests are brought in by bus from the nearby Aberdare Country Club, which serves as a kind of staging post for the Ark itself.

An expectant hush pervades The Ark. Conversations are whispered, binoculars and cameras head in readiness. There is an early wake-up call - to catch both the wildlife and the first glimpse of the snow-capped peak of Mount Kenya. It's the public viewing areas, however, that give the Ark its utterly unique appeal. Guests can see the animals from three different levels, inside or out. The ground level photo hide has no glass in the windows - allowing visitors to be literally feet away from a herd of elephants. Elsewhere, viewing can be done in warmth and relaxation.

Location
The Ark is 197 km north of Nairobi (a 3 hour 30 minute drive). Altitude is 2,286 metres (7,500 feet). The weather, especially in the evenings, can be damp, chilly and misty.

Kenya hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodge or tented camp, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

The Background
The Aberdare National Park
Highlands, moorlands, peaks and falls
Aptly dubbed ‘Scotland with Lions', this atmospheric park showcases the chill, wild and beautiful moorlands of the Aberdare mountain range. An often mist-wreathed realm where elephants roam through lichen-hung forests; spectacular waterfalls plunge into churning pools, and trout-filled streams cascade through mossy dells, it offers matchless views of the glittering coronet of Mount Kenya and the sparkling lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Believed by the Kikuyu to be one of the homes of Ngai (God), the area became known as the ‘White Highlands' in the 1920's, due to the large numbers of Europeans who settled there. During the 1950's, the dense forests and bamboo thickets were the scene of intense guerrilla warfare between the British and the ‘Mau Mau' freedom fighters of Kenya, while the famous ‘Treetops' Hotel was where the young Princess Elizabeth heard she had become Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Wildlife highlights : colobus monkey, leopard, lion, serval cat, elephant, warthog, black rhino, giant forest hog, reed and bushbuck, buffalo, duiker, suni, eland and the rare bongo antelope. Birds: 250 recorded species.

Accommodation
The Ark offers 60 en-suite rooms or 'cabins' on the various decks. Silence is requested so as to encourage optimum game viewing. Bells in the rooms indicate when game has come to the waterhole. All rooms have electricity. Laundry done at the nearby Aberdare Country club. Disabled access is provided.

Only a lightweight overnight bag and camera equipment allowed. Excess luggage can be safely stored at the Aberdare Country Club

Vantage points
• 'A' deck lounge - glassed-off viewing lounge, overlooking the waterhole
• 'B' deck with balcony - open balcony just above the salt-lick and waterhole, where the spotlights are aimed from
• 'C' deck enclave - glassed-off lounge, a designated non-smoking area, view of the waterhole
• 'D' deck - photographic hide, non-smoking "bunker" at ground level
• Game alarm
• Glass enclave - another glassed-off, non-smoking lounge
• Open-air balcony
• The catwalk
• Bird feeding platform

Dining and bars
The Ark has a central dining room with communal tables, serving traditional safari buffet selections. There is also a charmingly rustic bar. Hot drinks available throughout the night. Picnics are also held in the ‘Salient' portion of the park. The main lounge has a large stone fireplace, the mounted rhino head is a relic of a fatal fight between it and an elephant, which took place by the waterhole. Tea and cakes are served in the afternoon.

Child-friendly
Children under the age of 7 are not permitted at The Ark unless on special "Children's Nights"

What to see and do
The Ark has its own photo hide. The lodge offers Forex facilities, medical services, gift shop, raised timbered viewing platform and presentations by the resident naturalist.

 

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