Nairobi National Park is a full wildlife resort located just outside the city of Nairobi, Kenya. This makes the Kenyan capital the only city in the world where you can be in the middle of the bush with a 30-minute car ride from the city centre. Most wild African animals can be spotted there. So although Nairobi National Park is one of the smaller wildlife parks in Kenya – it’s 117 square kilometres or 45 square miles – it can’t be beat for convenience.
The Habitat of the Park
Nairobi National Park is made up mostly of dry open grasslands, also known as savannah. The wide open spaces are broken up with groves of scrubby acacia bushes, and the occasional steep valley. There is also a river that runs through the park, the Athi river, adding to the variety of wildlife and birds you’ll find (there are over 400 species of birds recorded in the park). The park is only fenced on the Nairobi side, so animals can migrate freely from and to the park.
Speaking of wildlife, the Nairobi National Park is home to all the animals you’d expect to find in Africa, such as the rhino, lion, zebra, hippo and giraffe. The black rhino is a specific point of pride for the park, since they are quite endangered. The only common African animal that doesn’t frequent this park, is the elephant.
Migration patterns change through the year, so there isn’t always going to be the same mix of beasts to see. Since only the Nairobi side of the park is fenced, the animals tend to come and go at their leisure.
Other sights in the park include the historic monument where ivory has been burned in protest of the ongoing poaching of wild elephants and rhinos. There are also trails where you can walk around the hippopotamus pools. Visit the animal orphanage to see some of the younger animals up close. The Impala Observation Tower can give you a bird’s eye view of the park for a new perspective.
The park is only 8 km (5 miles) outside the city, so access is pretty easy. Cost to access the park is US$40 for adults and US$20 for children. You can get a reusable “smartcard” for paying your fees, that is also usable at other national parks and reserves.
For safety reasons you must enter the park in a vehicle. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can either go with any tour operator, or you can take public transport to the park and then hop on the KWS wildlife bus into the park (Sundays only). If you do that, you’ll pay between US$55 and US$75 per person.
There is a network of well-marked roads, as well as designated picnic areas. There are no accommodations within the Nairobi National Park, but considering its proximity to the city, that’s not really necessary.