Tucked in the southern part of Nairobi (Kenya’s capital), Nairobi National Park is the only park found in the city. Established in 1946, this protected area was the first in Kenya and East Africa. The south of present day Nairobi and the Athi plains were gifted with variety of Wildlife in the late 19th century.
The Nomadic Masai lived and herded their cattle within the Park’s areas whilst the Kikuyu people farmed the forested highlands above Nairobi city.
These people were usually very alert with guns to protect themselves from the dangerous wild animals. People were evacuated from their lands due to increase in the number of farms and livestock, later the Park was created.
Nairobi is characterized by a dry climate and its altitude ranges between 1533 and 1760m. Usually the Nairobi is very dry and hot between January and March, April – June is a bit hot and wet and then from July to October it is just warm and wet.
Additionally Nairobi National Park covers a total area of 117.21 square kilometers and it has an electric fence along the west, east and northern boundaries.
The Park’s southern boundary is formed by River Mbagathi and it is open to the Anthi Kapiti Plains and the Kitengela Conservation Area.
To add on, Nairobi National Park defines itself with a unique vegetation that is predominated by open grass plain, Acacia bushes and highland dry forests. In the south of the Park, there is a riverine forest along the permanent river.
How to get there
By road the distance from Nairobi is about 10km up to this Park and those who go by plane set off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport.
Nairobi National Park has seven gates in total and two are used for KWS services only (KWS headquarters). Other gates for visitors’ access are Maasai gate, Mbagathi, Banda and Maasai gate.
Attractions in the Park.
Although it’s situated just within the city, Nairobi National Park has a large population of Wildlife. Wildebeest and Zebras are found in the migration corridor to the south of the Park and the Kitengela conservation area. These animals usually disperse over the plains during the rainy season and return to the park in the dry season.
The best time to visit this Park for Wildlife is the dry season. Animals usually concentrate in the Park areas for pasture when the areas outside the Park are dried up. Small dams built along the Mbagathi River are major water sources and attract thousands of water dependents during the dry season.
Moreover, Nairobi National Park is a great habitat to over 500 species of birds plus the migrant birds. Some of these birds are Croaking Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, Speke’s Weaver, Secretary bird, Northern Pied Babbler, Pangani Longclaw, African Quail-finch, Zebra Waxbill, Kori Bustard, Saddle-billed Stork, Yellow-throated Sand grouse, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Violet Wood-hoopoe and Nairobi Pipit.
The Ivory Burning Site Monument
Just on the northwestern end of Nairobi National Park is this Ivory Burning Site Monument. It is located within a walking distance from Nagolomon reservoir.
This area is where the former president of Kenya Daniel Arap Moi set fire to over 2000 elephant tusks that were worth three million dollars. This action by the present was meant to show the commitment to save the African Elephants from massive slaughter by poachers.
Animal Orphanage Centre.
This is one of Kenya’s most known Rhino Sanctuaries. It is run by the David Sheldrick Trust. This protected area hand rears the orphaned elephants and rhinoceros calves and after distribute them to numerous sanctuaries in the country.
What to do in the Park.
There is no better way you can take in Nairobi National Park’s rich Wildlife than game driving. This Park is gifted with variety of wild animals and most of them are common during the game drives. This activity takes about 2-3 hours and animals that can be seen include baboon, eastern black rhino, gazelle, Cheetah, Grant’s Zebra, Masai giraffe, ostrich, Cape buffalo, African leopard, Impala and lions.
Visit the Animal Orphanage Centre
This sanctuary is located close to the Park’s main gate. It was established in 1963 by Daphne Sheldrick after the death of her husband David Sheldrick who was the anti-poaching warden in Tsavo National Park. On your visit, you will have to see the orphaned animals as they enjoy their habitats.
Over 500 species of birds breathe life in Nairobi National Park. Birders usually see some of the eight species of Kenya Mountains endemic birds, 25 species of the 67 African highlands biome and 27 species of the 94 Somali-Masai biome. It is a full day activity carried out along the water bodies, forests and savannah plains of the Park.
Other captivating activities in the Park include Picnicking, nature walk, stargazing and events in the wild.