Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is a national park in south-central Kenya. Established in 1946, it was a project of Mervyn Cowie, a conservationist who pioneered the national park system in Kenya, and established this as the nation’s first.

It is located approximately 7 kilometers (4 mi) south of the center of Nairobi, the nation’s capital and largest city. Only a fence separates the park’s wildlife from the metropolis, with Nairobi’s skyscrapers providing a backdrop to the park. While Cowie did not anticipate the immense growth of Nairobi, such a large city next to, an animal reserve presents unique problems to both man and wildlife. These issues, if dealt with successfully, have the potential to make Nairobi National Park a model in the larger context of mans’ relationship with nature.


Nairobi National Park, located about 7 kilometers (4 mi) from the center of Nairobi, covers an area of 117.21 km² (45.26 sq. mi) (28,963 acres) and is one of the smaller of Africa’s national parks (Brett 1995, 11).

The park ranges in altitude from 1,533 to 1,760 meters (5,030 – 5,774 ft.) and has a dry climate. It is the only protected part of the Athi-Kapiti ecosystem, making up less than 10 percent of this ecosystem (Prins 2000, 142). The park has a diverse range of habitats and species. An electric fence encloses the park’s northern, eastern, and western boundaries in order to keep the wildlife from roaming into the city. The Mbagathi River forms its southern boundary. This boundary is not fenced and is open to the Kitengela Conservation Area which is located immediately south of the park, and the Athi-Kapiti plains. There is considerable movement of large ungulate species across this boundary.


The park’s predominant environment is open grass plain with scattered Acacia bushes. The western uplands of the park have highland dry forest with stands of Olea Africana, Croton dichogamus, Brachylaena hutchinsii, and Calodendrum. The lower slopes of these areas are grassland. Themeda, Cypress, Digitaria, and Cynodon species are found in these grassland areas. There are also scattered yellow-barked Acacia xanthophloea. There is a riverine forest along the permanent river in the south of the park. There are areas of broken bush and deep rocky valleys and gorges within the park. The species in the valleys are predominantly Acacia and Euphorbia candelabrum. Other tree species include Apodytes dimidiata, Canthium schimperiana, Elaeodendron buchananii, Aspilia mossambicensis, Rhus natalensis, and Newtonia species. Several plants that grow on the rocky hillsides are unique to the Nairobi area. These species include Euphorbia brevitorta, Drimia calcarata, and Murdannia clarkeana.


This iconic park within the limits of a capital city is a home to more than 80 species of large mammals, including all the so-called Big Five with the exception of elephants, exist in Nairobi National Park – hunting, fleeing, eating, mating, rearing young and dying – almost within earshot of downtown Nairobi’s traffic. The park is well worth a morning or afternoon visit, and you have a high chance of seeing certain species, especially black rhino, which you might well miss in the bigger Kenyan parks. Although it is fenced along its northern perimeter, it is open to the south, and the Friends of Nairobi National Park lobby hard to preserve the wildlife corridors that run between the park and the Kapiti-Kajiado Plains of the Maasai to the south.

Impossibly tall giraffe browse from the underside of flat-topped acacia trees; bevies of graceful, high-heeled impalas vault across the track ahead of your vehicle; stocky eland munch the sward; ostriches appear to float above the landscape like giant feather dusters; and fearsome phalanxes of buffalo turn to face you as you drive by.

Early morning, at the western end of the park, where most of the woodland is concentrated, you may be lucky enough to see a leopard, perhaps back from a nocturnal foray out of the park, hunting for domestic dogs.  Spotting black rhinos in the park is easy: it has one of the largest populations anywhere in Kenya, partly due to the perseverance of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. You’ll also see groups of the much more docile and approachable, non-native white rhinos. Other species to look out for include Hippopotamus, waterbuck, common warthog, olive baboon, black jackal and Nile crocodile among others.


The park’s 400 species of birds include some rare Palearctic migrants from November to March, as well as all the fantastically rich local avifauna. Even if you’re fresh off the plane and ornithologically illiterate, the first glimpses of ostrich, secretary bird, crowned crane and the ghoulish-looking marabou stork never fail to impress.


What to do in Nairobi National Park

Game Drives/Viewing

This exceptional adventure allows you to explore the unique ecosystems of the Nairobi National Park, the only protected area in the world situated just outside the business district of a capital city. On your morning game drive, you might view a wonderful assortment of wildlife, including black rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, hyena and a variety of plains game.

Experience the oldest national park in Kenya, a sweeping landscape consisting of marshy wetlands, lush forests, rugged valleys and green grasslands. Offering an abundance of fascinating mammals and beautiful bird species, this magnificent terrain is set against the gleaming high-rises of Nairobi as a backdrop.

Drive through the lush riverine forest and delight in cheeky monkeys swinging through leafy branches and colourful birds letting out a variety of fascinating calls. The Athi River forms the natural southern boundary of Nairobi National Park and adds to beauty of the lush and tranquil setting.

Submerged in pristine river pools, hippos and crocodiles surreptitiously survey the scenery. One of the most beautiful places in the park is at the southwestern boundary, where little streams have furrowed steep valleys lined with lush vegetation. Inquisitive hyraxes, or dassies, play and sun themselves on the warm rocks and you may even come across an elegant klipspringer or mountain reedbuck.



Nairobi National Park has a diverse avifauna with checklist of over 520 bird species. One of the eight species of Kenya Mountains Endemic Bird Area, 27 species of the 94 Somali–Masai biome, 25 species of the 67 African Highlands biome that occur in Kenya, have been recorded in the area. Migrating Lesser Falcons roost at the site in large numbers. The park’s substantial area of undisturbed grassland is of great importance for species such as the restricted-range Jackson’s Widowbird, which breeds here regularly after good rains. The globally threatened Corncrake, Madagascar Pond-Heron, Lesser Kestrel, Corncrake, Jackson’s Widowbird, Red-throated Tit and the near threatened Shoebill Stork and Basra Reed Warbler have both been spotted. Regionally threatened species include Struthio camelus, Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, Polemaetus bellicosus, Anhinga rufa, Casmerodius albus, Podica senegalensis, and Buphagus Africanus.


Nairobi National Park offers good bird watching throughout the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and North Africa are present. Many species are nesting at this time as it coincides with breeding season. The spectacular Jackson’s widowbird displays from March to May. Although good for birding, April tends to be very wet and is a less productive time for general wildlife viewing.

Nature Walks

Nature walks in Nairobi national park offers a unique setting for visitors to see Kenya’s flora and fauna in habitats that simulate natural environments. These walks take place in walking trails like a hippo and throw the Nairobi safari walls, which allow tourists to see animals from a raised wooden boardwalk giving them uninterrupted views of animals. On this walk, rare animals like white rhino, the rare bongo and albino zebra, as well as big cats, antelopes and primates are seen.


Camping and Picnic

Camping and picnics in Nairobi national park is very exciting and fulfilling, picnics in this park offer endless wonders from unpolluted fresh air, beautiful scenic sights of the wilderness and the city structures, the park has various picnic sites like ivory burning site, impala picnic, kingfisher site, and mokoiyet picnic site which are perfect for weddings and sundowners. Camping takes place in Twiga campsite, which is composed of a serene environment.


Visiting David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

The orphanage is situated at the park’s main gate, in this orphanage tourists get a chance to bond with orphaned baby elephants and rhinos.

WhEN TO VISIT Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is situated at an elevation of 5030 feet to 5774 feet, so temperatures tend to be mild year round, making it a perfect day vacation destination in central Kenya no matter when you plan to visit. January and February are the warmest months while July and August are the coolest months. The warm, spring-like months are December through March when average day temperatures range from 77-82 F (25-28 C) and the cool-dry months are July through September with average day temperatures ranging from 70-77 F (21-25 C).


Nairobi National Park experiences two rainy seasons that may affect your visit to the country. During the rains, the vegetation is denser, and wildlife are dispersed into the interiors rather than congregating at central water points so tracking them takes more time. The long rainy season occurs from the middle of March through May, scattering off in the varied days of June. April has the highest average rainfall of 8 inches. From late October through December, the short rainy season arrives, and November has the most rainfall during this time, averaging just over 4 inches. In other wet months, the park may average 2 inches of rain. The dry season in Nairobi is from July to October and July has the lowest average rainfall of less than 1 inch.


HOW TO GET To Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park located about 7 kilometers (4 mi) from the center of Nairobi, can be accessed by both road and Air transportation.


By road: The distance is just 10kilometers since it is located near the main city in the south of the Nairobi, its walk over the journey.

By Air: Most travelers lands in Kenya through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport these are the major Airport for travelers arrive in Kenya which sits close to Nairobi city a close city to the park.

Visit one of the most outstanding adventuring Kenya Safari destination and the only nearest national park to Nairobi Capital city where you can get amazed its shinning city at night while in the remarkable wilderness of Nairobi National Park and end up with privileged time on African ground.