The Nairobi National Park
Welcome to Kenya’s most accessible yet incongruous safari experience. Set on the city’s southern outskirts, Nairobi National Park (at 117 sq km, it’s one of Africa’s smallest) has abundant wildlife which can, in places, be viewed against a backdrop of city skyscrapers and airliners coming in to land – it’s the only national park on earth that borders a capital city. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by it all.
Nairobi National Park has acquired the nickname ‘Kifaru Ark’, a testament to its success as a rhinoceros (kifaru in Kiswahili) sanctuary. The park is home to the world’s densest concentration of black rhinoceros (over 50). But even proximity to Kenya’s largest city couldn’t prevent poachers from killing one of the park’s rhinos in August 2013. It was the first such attack in six years.
Lions and hyenas are also commonly sighted within the park; park rangers at the entrance usually have updates on lion movements. You’ll need a bit of patience and a lot of luck to spot the park’s resident cheetahs and leopards. Other regularly spotted species include gazelle, warthog, zebra, giraffe, ostrich and buffalo.
The park’s wetland areas also sustain approximately 400 bird species, which is more than in the whole of the UK.
Ivory Burning Monument
Not far inside the park’s main Langata Road Gate, the Ivory Burning Monument marks the spot where, in 1989, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi burnt 12 tons of ivory at a site near the main gate. This dramatic event improved Kenya’s conservation image at a time when East African wildlife was being decimated by relentless poaching.
Getting There & Around
Apart from the main entrance, which lies 7km from the CBD, there are other gates on Magadi Rd and the Athi River Gate; the latter is handy if you’re continuing on to Mombasa, Amboseli or the Tanzanian border. The roads in the park are passable with 2WDs, but travelling in a 4WD is never a bad idea, especially if the rains have been heavy.
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