Forest Safaris: The Ark


Spanning 300-square miles and three ecosystems, Kenya’s Aberdare National Park has so much to offer we stayed at two different hotels to do it justice. After two days at Aberdare Country Club (see our last blog for all our exciting escapades), we started our all-day game drive towards their sister hotel, The Ark. Inspired by Noah’s legendary boat full of animals, the hotel is built like a ship with a the liveliest watering hole at the helm. Standing out on the hotel balconies, sitting in the sun room, or peering out from the observation bunker (above), you feel as if you are watching a National Geographic episode play in front of you. It’s by far one of our most engaging hotel stays with the journey to get there being half the fun.

Instead of just driving the 17 kilometers straight from Aberdare Country Club to the Ark, we opted for a game-drive-meets-waterfall adventure. Starting in the tropical forest, ascending to the bamboo groves, and ending in the misty moorlands, we watched the ecosystems fade from one to the next.

In Aberdare National Park, 98% of the ground is covered by bushes making not only for lush scenery but even more intense animal sightings. Just when you think all is calm in the woods, a leopard will dash across the road or a massive elephant like this will pop its head out of the trees. There are 2,000 forest elephants in the park each eating 250-300 kilos a day…good thing there are so many trees to go around!

Like a creature you’d find in Jim Henson’s labyrinth, the Giant Forest Hog is as ugly as it is adorable. Everyone wants a piece of this big bacon but 250+kilo beast will never run away from its predators–it charges! We were incredible lucky to spot this endangered species and do a quick study on its quirky ways.

The park is said to have some of the best waterfalls in Kenya and we agree whole heartedly! The towering Chania falls was the first stop on our three-waterfall tour.

Next we went to the top of the three-tiered Karoo Falls for views that will make your stomach-drop and heart soar. Trees dripping in moss added to the surreal beauty.

For the Queen of England to go on a safari, the park better be top-notch and with that the Queen of England headed to Aberdare. On her tour of the park she stopped to picnic at Magura Falls and take a peek at its mystical cave, now aptly called Queen Cave.

In our final stretch to the Ark, our expert guide spotted this young leopard crouched in the bushes. What a find!

As if one cat sighting wasn’t enough for the day, ten minutes later we came across this beautiful beast. This leopard was like no other we (or even our guide) had ever seen. Its bright orange coat, piercing blue eyes, and enormous size had us frozen in our tracks.

After one incredible day, we reached the Ark. Perched above the forest floor, the rustic and admittedly quirky lodge seems to float over the trees.

With expansive balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows, the hotel design is all about connecting guests with the great African outdoors. The watering hole that sits at the helm of the hotel attracts countless elephants, warthogs, zebra, buffalo, leopard and more to its shores. Staring out the window from these cozy sofas was like being on the comfiest safari possible.

To get a glimpse at the kind of animal action and fun we had at the Ark, watch this unbelievable elephant bath-time video.

Much love from Aberdare,
Anne & Mike

The Ark invited us to be our guests; however, all opinions are our own.

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