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Great Getaways : Times Correspondents' Course in Favorite Weekend Escapes : NAIROBI

October 19, 1986|Charles T. Powers

The Mau Mau movement, black Africa's first powerful thrust toward independence, started in the forests of the Aberdare Mountains of Kenya in the 1950s. The fierce, dreadlocked terrorists are long gone, but the stunning virgin forest remains as a Kenya national park and game reserve.

The Aberdare Country Club, which is no longer a private club, stands at the edge of this forest, with a view of 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya on one side and the Aberdare Mountains on the other.

It's a 2 1/2-hour drive from the capital, Nairobi. Tourist buses stop at the club for the luncheon buffet, which features a marvelous curry, but then the buses load the tourists back aboard to go into the park to overnight at the Ark, a lodge overlooking a swamp and salt lick and, on a good night, lots of wild animals. Meanwhile, the club settles back into its easy and leisured pace after lunch, with peacocks stalking about the lawns and cottages.

An ex-British army officer named J. F. (Sam) Weller presides over this calm with his own special wit and a fund of stories about white hunters and rogue lions and charging buffalo. For about $15 a person, a guided tour of the game park can be arranged. You can stop at teatime at the Ark, watch the animals a while and then proceed back to the club for dinner--plain but good--in the old dining room with a huge fireplace.

The highland air is chilly and bracing and the stars are brilliant. If you ask, the staff will build a fire in the fireplace of your cottage during dinner. Breakfast, included in the price of the room, is an English-style spectacular.

Aberdare Country Club, c/o Signet Hotels, P.O. Box 59749, Nairobi, Kenya. Telex 22853. Telephone Mweiga 17 or 25. Cost: About $62 per couple.

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