Last week some friends and I got a guided tour of the Nairobi National Park courtesy of the Kenya Wildlife Service. It was an incredible trip and a great fact finding expedition. We found out some new things. Some of these things you may know but others will surprise you.
1. It is the only capital city national park in the world. While in the park you can actually see many of the tall buildings in the City Centre.
2. The Nairobi National Park is the oldest park in East Africa. It was gazetted in 1946.
3. There are over 400 species of birds in Nairobi National Park. You will also find Zebra, Leopards, lions, Giraffes, Hippos, buffalo, antelopes, crocodiles, Cheetah and Gazelles. Find more pictures here.
4. Nairobi National Park and Nakuru National Park are the only parks which do not have elephants. In Nairobi National Park it is because they were transplanted to reduce Human – wildlife conflict. Not to worry you can still find four of the Big Five (lion, Buffalo, leopard and Rhino)
5. A thriving rhino sanctuary. The Nairobi National Park has the highest density of black rhino in the country.
6. The Nairobi National Park has a club house which is open to everybody. It is open until 6 in the evening. The club house has some beautiful grounds where you can hold functions like weddings or parties.
7. If you want an exciting tour with one of the park guides you can book the 2-3 hours safari package (early morning or late afternoon) where you are taken around in the four wheel drive. It costs Ksh. 7,500 for this. The learned KWS guide/driver has driven VIPs like the President of Kenya – Uhuru Kenyatta, the Vice President of Kenya William Ruto, and UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He also adopted a lion club. So you are in very good hands and the driver is quite the storyteller.
8. There are other attractions at the park namely Nairobi Safari Walk and the Animal Orphanage. This Nairobi Safari Walk is a wooden boardwalk where people can view animals in enclosures that mimic their natural environment.
9. The Mini Animal Orphanage: the orphanage is home to many orphaned, abandoned or wounded animals. This is a great place to take kids to see animals up close and personal.
10. Where to stay
There is a KWS camp within the park where tourists can stay. It costs 200 shillings a night.
There is also luxurious camping at the Nairobi Tented camp. This is the first and only tented camp inside the Nairobi National Park. It costs around Kshs. 10,000 per night.
11. There are a number of picnic sites where you can sit and have your lunch.
Some of them include
a) The Impala Observation Point: where you have panoramic view of the park. There are also toilet facilities
b) The Ivory Burning Site: this is where in 1989 former President Moi set fire to 12 tons of Ivory in a bid to eliminate the mass slaughter of Africa’s elephants.
c) Kingfisher Picnic Site: A green shaded area with picnic tables, ideal for early morning bush breakfasts.
d) Mokoyeti picnic site: An open cliff top site with shaded tables, latrines and extensive parking. Close by is Leopard cliff observation point, looking down into the gorge below.
e) Hippo Pools and Nature Trails: A short self-guided nature trail (Patrolled by KWS rangers) leads out of a shaded picnic area (latrines and running water available) along the Athi River and offers the opportunity of viewing hippo, crocodile, monkey, terrapin and a large variety of birds.
The park is accessible all year round. Some things to keep in mind.
You need a smart card to enter inside the Nairobi National Park. They can be bought and loaded at the main gate off Langata Road. You however can get into the orphanage or Nairobi Safari walk without one.
The park is open daily between 6 am and 7 pm including public holidays. You cannot enter the Nairobi National Park on foot and visitors are not allowed entry after 6:15 pm.
It is 8 km from the city center. From Jomo Kenyatta International Airport it takes 45 min (when there is jam it can take up to 2 hours) to the Nairobi National Park. It is 27.6 km from the airport.
If you are a Kenyan citizen you need to carry a valid passport or national ID to enter. For Residents you need a valid passport & re entry pass.
Keep in mind the climatic conditions. January-March is hot and dry, April-June is hot and wet, and July-October is very warm and wet. This is very important to note as during the rainy season you will need a 4 wheel drive to access some areas.
The entry charges may change so you should call KWS HQ Tel :(Nairobi) +254 (0) 20 600800, 602345 or email: [email protected] to find out what the costs are. You can also check out the website: www.kws.org. You can also ask the KWS on their twitter account @kwskenya.
I also visited the Nairobi National Park early this year and we had more luck with seeing Lions which we didn’t see this time.