- 1 Nairobi National Park: The Only Park Near the Capital City
- 2 How Big Is Nairobi National Park?
- 3 Nairobi National Park’s Geography
- 4 Nairobi National Park Tented Camps
- 5 Things to do in Nairobi National Park
- 6 Opening Hours of Nairobi National Park
- 7 Entrance Fees to Nairobi National Park
- 8 What to See in Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park: The Only Park Near the Capital City
Nairobi National Park is Kenya’s first national park established in the year 1946. It’s the only game reserve in the world bordering a nation’s capital with an electric fence separating the park’s wildlife from the city. It’s entirely possible to see wildlife in the park with the sprawling metropolis complete with its skyscrapers as the backdrop making it one of the most unique national parks in the world. The wild African wild animals seem to be entirely oblivious of the city and its massive population of people just behind the fence.
Being in such close proximity to the city, it’s one of–if not–the most accessible national park in the world. So on my visit to Nairobi, Kenya, I knew I have to take on the opportunity to visit its first national park. I immediately booked a tour and planned to stay a night inside the park in their tented camps (read further for more details on that).
On the day of the tour, I got down to my hotel’s lobby and a cool looking safari jeep is parked just outside the hotel. Is this really our ride? Sure enough, Allan, our tour guide greeted me with a smile. I quickly hopped on and off we go to Nairobi National Park.
Despite being only 7 km or 4 mi south of the center of Nairobi City, it took us 20 minutes to reach the entrance of Nairobi National Park from the Radisson Blu Hotel. Traffic in Kenya is similar to traffic in some of the most populous cities in the world. So it’s best to be prepared and find less congested routes.
But we were definitely at the gates of Nairobi National Park and I was so excited! We were just barely passed the entrance of the park and we came by a rhino! A RHINO! A mother white rhino with her calf. I can’t believe my luck!
The mother rhino and her calf were just casually walking up the road like. The last time I saw a rhino was in Chitwan National Park in Nepal and seeing one again with all its massive size left me in awe. I don’t know how common a sight this is but what a way to start the tour!
Just a nearby distance away there were zebras, water buffalos, and impalas. I wanted to approach them right away but Allan said to wait.
“We can always circle back to them. They’re always there and we’ll be able to see them often on our tour.”
Then off we go on our cool safari jeep deeper into the park. The park has a speed limit of 30-40 km/h depending on which road you’re trekking.
Then we saw a male lion with his pride by the road. A male lion with his gorgeous mane! I’ve seen a lion before on a private game reserve in South Africa and another one in Kruger National Park but never this close to the vehicle I’m in. They’re just right there! And they’re eating a huge water buffalo they had just killed without a care in the world. Allan said that it would have taken 4-5 lions to take down a kill that massive. There they were tearing at the carcass.
Prior to this, I’ve never seen such a sight before. I’ve had an exciting tiger safari adventures in India, one in Ranthambore National Park and one in Kanha National Park. I also had an exciting leopard sighting in Yala National Park in Sri Lanka but this was another level. I can’t believe my luck cause this is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen.
Shortly after, we see the male lion drag the kill out of sight to hide it. It seems that the females were all full and they were laying down to sleep. We stumbled upon them at the right time. If we’ve arrived 10 minutes later we wouldn’t have witnessed such as sight.
The majestic elephants are one of the few missing species in the park since it just isn’t big enough to contain them. Plus, with the park being so close to the city and so many people, there’s bound to be a conflict with the elephants.
Within 30 minutes of driving through the park, we’ve already seen two of the big 5 of African wildlife. Nairobi National Park has plenty of the big four species (lions, cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinos) in its territory.
In fact, it’s home to the densest concentration of black rhinos out of all the National Parks in Africa. This is all due to the park authorities’ success in making the Nairobi National Park as a rhino sanctuary. It even earned the nickname Kifaru Ark (Kifaru means rhino in Swahili).
Oh, Kenya, you never disappoint. I’ve been to other sanctuaries before but the sheer number of animal sightings in this one cannot compare. I’ve been on previous safari tours where there’s barely anything to see, but I learned to appreciate the birds, small animals, insects, and fauna. But it’s not like that in Kenya. Safaris in Kenya are extra exciting.
How Big Is Nairobi National Park?
Nairobi National Park is approximately 117 km squared or 45.26 sq mi. It’s the size of a handkerchief compared to other national parks in Africa. On the other hand, this makes it easier for conservationists to preserve the ecosystem of the park.
Nairobi National Park’s Geography
The park is separated from the city by an electric fence on its three sides: Noth, East, and West. The South is bordered by the Mbagathi River.
You can say that the Nairobi National Park’s climate is mostly dry from January to March. It’s not until April that the rainy season kicks off and lasts until June. There will be periodic rain showers and morning and evenings are generally colder. From June onwards, rain showers will become less common but the cool weather remains.
Terrain wise, the park is very similar to all the bigger national parks in Africa with shrubs and trees littering the plains and tall patches of grass meant for grazing wildlife. Despite having a generally dry climate, Nairobi National Park has permanent water sources throughout its various areas. This is due to dams being built along the park’s rivers to artificially create these water sources for the wildlife.
Nairobi National Park Tented Camps
I spent a night inside Nairobi National Park in its only available accommodation INSIDE the park, Nairobi Tented Camps by Gamewatchers Safari company. It’s literally within the safari surrounded by the wilderness bushland.
The camp consists of nine tents, each can house two guests. All the tents are comfortably furnished like a hotel with its own toilet and shower, plus a veranda complete with chairs and table but still have that authentic camp experience.
I got tent number 9 which is the farthest room within the camp. But the great thing about it is that I got a good view of the wilderness outside completely unobstructed by the other tents. What a win!
The camp reminds me of my stay in Leopard Safaris in Sri Lanka. They also have tented camps called SnowLeopard in Rishikesh. ( but this one isn’t a safari). Fancy tents that are basically rooms hidden within a huge tent.
One thing that stuck out to me with this camp is their emphasis on making their operations eco-friendly. The entire camp is solar-powered and they only allowed guests to charge their gadgets in the mess hall. If you want to have hot water, they will personally heat it for you but you have to inform the staff 10 minutes in advance of your shower or bath. In the morning, they also bring hot water for you to wash. All the hot water is heated over a fire!
All the rooms are tastefully decorated and follow the luxury safaris tyle. I love the cute giraffe lamps and the bed is incredibly comfy. You could almost forget that you’re out camping in the middle of the wilderness.
The staff brings hot water bags in the evening to help guests stay warm throughout the night as it can be quite chilly. We are free to turn it down though. And they gave us a whistle to blow onto whenever we needed something, usually water.
The staff of the camp are all full of smiles and are very welcoming. They all provide me with everything that I could need. They have top-class professionalism and friendliness. Plus, you could see how much they care about the wilderness of Nairobi and the camp.
Every meal in the camp is homemade and ready for the guests at a given schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was hot coffee and cookies in the early morning and order breakfast a while after. It was all delicious. We change meal settings quite often to experience what the safari has to offer. Everything was delicious and add that to the beautiful setting. Wonderful!
Things to do in Nairobi National Park
Of course, when you’re in Nairobi National Park, is there anything better to do than admire the wildlife and take photographs? I had a blast on the tour and my stay at the Gamewatchers Safari’s tented camps. People who visit Nairobi should definitely sign up for a tour or go for a safari game drive. There are loads of companies in the city offering a wide range of tours throughout the park including Gamewatchers Safari. I loved working with them because their gudies are very knowledgeable so you get the total package. You learn a lot and they also really. Have excellent service.
If you’re done taking photos of the amazing wildlife, head on over to the Giraffe Center along the Duma Road. It’s a giraffe and environment conservation center where guests can interact with friendly giraffes by giving them food to eat. If you’re lucky enough, you can even get a kiss from a giraffe.
The David Sheldrick Elephant & Rhino Orphanage at the edge of the park near the city’s western border is also a very worthwhile visit. They rescue orphaned baby elephants and rhinos who lost their mothers from poaching or other unfortunate means.
The baby elephants are so cute, you can see them being fed with a huge bottle of milk in a fenced-in area. Afterwhich they are free to approach the visitors. They are so lovely and guests are encouraged to sponsor a baby elephant for a year for 50 USD to which the sponsor will get regular updates on their baby elephant. The baby elephants are taken cared of until they’re deemed old and strong enough to go back to the wild.
There is only one blind rhino here who’s over 40 years old named Maxwell. The keepers said that he can never be released to the wild cause he probably won’t survive so he gets to live his the rest of his life well take cared of and safe in the orphanage.
Opening Hours of Nairobi National Park
The Nairobi National Park is open all year round for visitors from 6 am to 7 pm. The best time to visit is probably after the rainy season from July onwards where there’s not much rain but it’s not extremely hot or dry either.
Entrance Fees to Nairobi National Park
Entrance fees to Nairobi National Park vary although it’s probably the cheapest national park in Kenya. Entrance fees between foreigners and locals are vastly different.
- Citizen Adult – 430 KSH or 4.14 USD per day
- Citizen Child – 215 KHS or 2.07 USD per day
- Resident Adult – 1030 KHS or 10 USD per day
- Resident Child – 515 KHS or 5 USD per day
- Foreign Adult – 4,468 KHS or 43 USD per day
- Foreign Chil – 2,286 KHS or 22 USD per day
Private vehicles or other vehicles used for tours may have an additional entrance fee to the park.
What to See in Nairobi National Park
There are hundreds of animal species living and migrating in and out of Nairobi National Park including the Big Five minus the elephants. Here is a list of animals you can encounter on a stroll through the park:
- Hundreds if not thousands of migratory birds
- Many many more
Other than the animals, there are also conservation centers mentioned above.
Essential Things to Bring to Nairobi National Park
When out for a ride to the safari, there are essential things that you should never forget to bring with you.
- Sunscreen – apply it generously on all exposed areas of the skin. The sun can be intense during the day, especially during peak dry season.
- Safari Hat – get one that’s got decent coverage to help you protect against the sun’s UV rays.
- Binoculars – you can always get a closer look at the wildlife.
- Decent Safari Camera – don’t do a disservice to yourself by only taking photos with your phone. Bring the best quality camera that you have to capture the captivating wildlife of Nairobi. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to practice your photography skills.
- Shemagh or any kind of warm face covering – it can either get chilly or dusty in the park, especially in the morning so this is a good option to cover your face.
- Safari Boots or any sensible shoes – this will be especially useful if you’re going on safari walks but also as a way to protect your feet and legs from the harsh climate in the park.
- Jacket – again, the weather can get chilly at times in Nairobi National Park, especially if you’re staying overnight. Bring extra clothing for warmth.
I had a really good start to my Safari adventure in Kenya. I will update you more about our next parks Meru National Park and the Masai Mara.