I have been to the Nairobi National Park several times, mostly over weekends. It’s one of my favourite day trip ideas as the park is a few minutes drive from the central business district. It’s easily accessible, and planning takes just a few like-minded people and you are on your way for a few hours of relaxation some fresh air, not to mention the wildlife and lovely backdrop of Nairobi city.
On this particular trip, I got the opportunity to visit the park on a Wednesday afternoon courtesy of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The weather was perfect for an afternoon drive away from the hustles and bustles of the city. We set off after a brief lunch at the KWS Clubhouse. We got to learn that one can hold events inside the park at the clubhouse. Now that sounds like a lovely idea for those unique weddings, birthdays, graduation parties as well as corporate events. It’s quite a serene environment and with prior arrangements, one can hold a memorable event here. It added to my reasons for loving this park in a city as well as added to my list of day trip ideas while in Nairobi.
Away from the clubhouse, we set off for the afternoon drive, with the backdrop of the city beckoning from a distance.
The woodland is mainly at the entrance, as one keeps driving, the savannah grassland opens up and one can see as far Kitenglea, Athi River, the CBD and Mombasa Road.
A few minutes’ drives and the park’s custodians can be seen roaming. A thriving Rhino population is growing; Zebra herds gracefully grazing in the plains. A unique feature of the park is that you do not have to travel far to view the game in their natural habitat. There is a wide variety of habitats from open grass plains to rocky river gorges and dry forests. This variety attracts a wide range of wildlife.
There is the black and white rhino, buffalos, Kongonis, zebras, giraffes, plenty of antelopes and gazelles that we got to see roaming in these open plains. On this day we were not lucky to spot the king of the jungle, The lion. (Hopefully, we shall be lucky in our next visit.)
Birdlife, is abundant, for lovers of bird watching, this is an ideal location to see the over 400 bird species.
There are several picnic sites where one can enjoy a lovely view of the park, ideal for groups and families’ picnics as well as team building.
Mokoyeti picnic site: An open clifftop site with shaded tables, latrines and extensive parking. The last time I was here the shaded tables were not done yet, it looked really nice. (I have got to be back here soon)
Other picnic sites include Kingfisher, Hippo and Nature Trail, the Impala observation point and the Ivory burning site where the former President Moi set fire to 12 tons of Ivory in a bid to eliminate the mass slaughter of Africa’s elephants in 1989.
Looking to experience the park in the night?
Then the Nairobi Tented camp is your ideal and only accommodation within the park. Spend a night in the park for and indulge yourself in a night of luxury, coupled with peace and quietness apart from the whistles and whispers from trees and the wild. Here is our brief review of the camp.
Facts on the Nairobi National Park (Info: courtesy of Kenya Wildlife Service)
Altitude: 1,540- 1,780 meters above sea level.
Area: 117 sq km.
Location: Nairobi province
Distance from Nairobi: 8 km from the city centre.
Gazetted: December 1946(Kenya’s first National park)
Climate: January-March is hot and dry, April-June is hot and wet, July-October is very warm and wet.
Vegetation: The Park has three main zones: dry highland forest at the western end, riverine-forested areas to the south and rolling grasslands which cover 99% of the park.
Wildlife: over 80 recorded species to include rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, crocodile and hippo (no elephant)
Birds: more than 400 recorded species.
Roads: The over 250 km road network is well maintained and signposted, and can be used by 2WD vehicles all year round. Some sections may require 4WD during the rainy seasons.
Open: Daily 6.00am-7.00pm including public holidays. Note: no entry is allowed on foot and visitors will not be allowed entry after 6.15 pm.
‘Smart Card’ required? Entry is by Smart Cards may be obtained and loaded at the Main Gate off Langata road.