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Nairobi National Park

Type of Location
Wildlife Safari
About Location

Nairobi, as a capital city, is unique in having a wildlife park on its doorstep. Indeed the city abuts the park on all but the southern perimeter so it is possible to photograph a rhino, browsing peacefully among the whistling thorn with high rise office buildings in the background. Some of the wildlife is migratory and when there is grazing and water outside the park it moves out into Maasailand through the unfenced southern boundary. But there is also a resident population of plains game and carnivores so a visit at any time of the year IS rewarding. Well laid out, with exceptionally well-maintained roads, the park is a model for all others, geophysically and administratively.

Of the most popular species only the elephant is an absentee. But the rest of the Big Five - leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino - as well as a multitude of other creatures are all well represented.

The Athi river at the park's far end forms a delightful natural boundary to the park and provides shady walks through a riverine forest well populated with monkeys and birds and in the river pools, hippo and crocodile. Large populations of giraffe, wildebeest, eland and Thomson's gazelle dominate the plains, with strutting secretary birds and powerful ostrich as attractive counter-points. The park's prides of lion are well observed by the park staff and an inquiry at the gate, when entering, will usually elicit their whereabouts. Cheetah, too, have made the park famous and these might be located with a similar inquiry. More recently the Park has been designated as a rhino sanctuary and more than 50 rhino have been moved into the park from remote parts of the country where poaching was rife. So Nairobi Park is really the most favoured place in the country to see rhino. Along the south western boundary of the park the scenery is magnificent. This is an area of steep valleys created by streams joining the Athi river. Hyrax are plentiful on the rocks alongside the road and the sure-sighted may spot klipspringer or mountain reedbuck generally unobserved by the thousands of visitors who search the park annually. Later, on this boundary road there are splendid views over the Kitengela plains, the dispersal area for the park's ungulates. The park side of the river is an area favoured by zebra

Within the park's 117 sq km there are over 80 species of mammals and more bird species than can be found in the whole of the British Isles. During the rains, both the long and the short, wild flowers are in profusion and there are places where the plains are an unending wave of yellow daisies (Bidens palustris) which seems not to be liked, as food, by any wildlife.

How to Reach

By air

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the primary facility to serve Nairobi. It's the largest airport in East Africa, with the highest annual throughput at approximately four million passengers. This important hub manages flights inbound and outbound to destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Taxis provide transport into the city centre, as do shuttle buses which depart from the bus stops outside of Unit 1 and Unit 2.

This single-terminal facility is divided into three units, marked for domestic and international flights. As should be expected from its regional status, facilities are abundant. ATMs, booking agents, taxis and car hire are all available on-site in the Arrivals Hall.

Dining options are spread throughout the entire facility. Simba restaurant is the most centralised, located on the fifth floor of the central area. Unit 1 houses a cafeteria; Unit 2 keeps a combined restaurant and pub; and Unit 3 hosts a snack bar. Soft drinks and hot beverages are available in every unit.

Parking facilities cater for disabled persons, and anyone requiring specific attention can contact their airline in advance in order to make the necessary arrangements.

Information kiosks are well-placed throughout all three units, as are the arrivals and departures boards. Passengers seeking extensive business facilities may find that they have to venture out to the nearby hotels to find adequate services.

By rail

Nairobi's original founding placed the city on a prominent railway line. Today, Kenya Railways is headquartered near the city centre. Most of the through-traffic, from Mombasa to Kampala, is freight only; however, passenger trains do run at night, connecting Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. There are also a few lines that run into the surrounding suburbs, which depart mainly during mornings and evenings.

By bus

Buses are Nairobi's most frequent form of public transit. The privately-owned Matatus are the most well-known form. These minibuses can carry 12 people on fixed routes to destinations within Nairobi as well as into the outlying towns. The destination of the bus is painted on the side of these colourful vehicles.

The Matatu bus system went through a significant safety overhaul in 2004, placing restrictions on numbers of passengers, speed governors and safety belts. While these changes were not popular among Matatu drivers, they have made significant strides in making public transportation safer.

Key places to visit
Athi River, Ngong Hills, Animal Spotting


Places to Visit

Athi River

Athi-Galana-Sabaki River is the second longest river in Kenya (after the Tana River). It has a total length of 390 km, and drains a basin area of 70,000 km. The river rises in 1° 42' S. as Athi River and enters the Indian Ocean as Galana River
Athi River flows across the Kapote and Athi plains, through the Athi River town, takes a northteast direction and is met by the Nairobi River. Near Thika it forms the Fourteen Falls and turns south-south-east under the wooded slopes of the Yatta ridge, which shuts in its basin on the east. Apart from the numerous small feeders of the upper river, almost the only tributary is the Tsavo River, from the east side of Kilimanjaro, which enters in about 3° S. It turns east, and in its lower course, known as the Sabaki (or Galana), traverses the sterile quartz-land of the outer plateau.

Ngong Hills

The air up here is like champagne, the landscape breathes size." Thus enthused Baroness Karen Blixen, at the foot of the Ngong Hills had their coffee. The trip, 20 km from Nairobi, it is worth: Of the Ngong offers a breathtaking view of the landscape of the Rift Valley, the East African grave breach. On a clear point of view, the summit of the 300 km from Kilimanjaro to recognize.

Animal Spotting

he animals seem rather undisturbed by the nearby city and the airplanes coming over from Kenyatta airport. The park has the biggest concentration of black rhinos in the world – more than 50 have been recorded.

They can be easily spotted in the forest glades in the west side of the park. The park also has the second biggest annual migration of herbivores – after the ‘Wildebeest Migration’ of Masai Mara National Reserve.

Furthermore, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, wildebeests, hyenas, and of course many antelopes and zebras. Also over 550 species of birds have been recorded in the wetland areas. However, elephants are absent.

The park isn’t fenced – except on the northern border, before the Nairobi suburbs – and animals can go from the park to the Rift Valley through a narrow wildlife corridor. As there is always plenty of water in the park – especially in the northern part – many additional animals come into the park in the dry seasons.

Right Time to Visit

March - December


May - August -> 13(°C) - Spring
December - April -> 24(°C) - Summer


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