Nairobi National Park, at the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city


Nairobi National Park is located approximately 7 kilometres south of the centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, with an electric fence separating the park’s wildlife from the metropolitan area. The 117 km² Park, set up in 1946, was Kenya’s first.

A lioness stalks a small group of buffalo through grass made long and lush by seasonal rains in Nairobi National Park Make it Kenya Licence: CC


Nairobi National Park’s boundary borders the city’s industrial area. It has a high-altitude, savannah topography with Acacia bushes spotting the vast grass plains, steep gorges as well as a riverine forest flourishing along the banks of the permanent Embakasi River with the backdrop of the city’s scrapers. In the western side of the Park, there is a highland dry forest with the Cape Chestnut, the African Olive, the Silver Oak and the Orange-leaved Croton. The lower slopes of the area are open grassland where the Bermuda-grass, Red Oat-grass, Crabgrass and Cypress are found. There are also scattered yellow-barked Fever trees. In the deep rocky valleys and gorges there are the Candelabra tree and the Acacia trees as well as the Newtonia species, the ‎Bird’s eye tree, the Natal Rhus,  the Aspilia Mossambicensis, the Canthium Schimperiana, the Broom-cluster Fig and the Elaeodendron buchananii. On the rocky hillsides, the Murdannia Clarkeana, Euphorbia Brevitorta and the Drimia Calcarata grow.

A giraffe in the grass plains in Nairobi National Park Jorge Láscar Licence: CC


Despite its propinquity to the metropolis and its relatively small size, Nairobi National Park, sometimes termed Kifaru Ark, meaning “Rhinoceros Sanctuary”, is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries and is home to a large and diverse wildlife community. Migratory animals including the Zebra and Wildebeest drift towards the Park during the dry season using the Kitengela conservation area and migration corridor to the south of the Park to reach the Athi-Kapiti plains. Other animal species found in the Park include Coke’s Hartebeest, Cape Buffalo, African Leopard, Baboon, Maasai Giraffe, Lion, Eastern Black Rhino, Cheetah, Eland, Impala, Gazelle, Grant’s Zebra and Waterbuck.

Rhinos in Nairobi National Park Luigi Guarino Licence: CC

The Park has a high diversity of bird species with up to 500 permanent and migratory species and these include the Vulture, Common Ostrich, African Skimmer, African Darter, Bronze- winged Courser, African Finfoot, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Dwarf Bittern, White-bellied Bustard, Goliath Heron, Kori Bustard, Saddle-billed Stork, Grey crowned Crane, Shelly’s Francolin, Spur-winged Goose, Bateleur, Secretary bird, Tawny Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Gabar Goshawk and the Black-chested Snake-Eagle. The dams in the Park are a man-made habitat for aquatic species like the Hippopotamus.

An augur buzzard sits atop a tree inside Nairobi National Park Make it Kenya Licence: CC

Getting there

Nairobi National Park can be accessed both by road and by air. As it is only 7km from Nairobi’s city center via Langata Road, visitors can get there by private or public mass transport. By air, visitors can arrive through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airports.

A road in Nairobi National Park with a general view of grasslands of Nairobi National Park Make it Kenya Licence: CC


The Nairobi Tented Camp is the only camp in the Nairobi National Park. The Camp offers nine guest tents, each accommodating two people and holding its own toilet and shower. The tents are also furnished with a twin or double bed, bedside tables, a wardrobe, a writing desk and LED lighting. The delectable homemade meals, served on a set menu basis, include warming and filling breakfasts in the morning, light stimulating lunches and dinners of soufflés and tender beef fillet served under the star filled sky.

There is also Ololo Safari Lodge situated on the shores of the Mbagathi River which forms the southern border of the Nairobi National Park. Ololo, originally an old Kenyan homestead, offers the hospitality and relaxation of a home with graceful style and tailored service. The accommodation options at Ololo range from tented cottages, to the farm’s old transformed stables and to original suites in the main house of the lodge. The menus here range from British and French inspiration to Thai and Indian.

The Emakoko is a boutique lodge exceptionally set on the periphery of the Nairobi National Park.  The Lodge offers 10 rooms, five at the main level and five built into the cliff face, allowing guests exclusivity and a personal environment. The boutique has on offer an abundance of treasures locally crafted in Kenya.

There are more accommodation options found in and around the capital.

Best Time to Visit

For keen game viewers, the best time to visit the Park is from July through to March when it is mainly dry, sunny and pleasant enough to be outdoors. Vegetation is also thinner during this time, making game spotting easier. Roads are also easier to drive in during unlike in the wet months of April through June and October to December.

Visitors to Nairobi National Park enjoy an up-close encounter with two lionesses who had run from a buffalo charge, 17 May, 2015
Make it Kenya Licence: CC

Weather and Climate

Nairobi experience mild differences in temperatures all year round. The months of January, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December have good weather with pleasant temperatures falling between 20 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius. The months March, May, November and December have a high chance of rainfall. March is the warmest month whilst July is the coolest month. April the wettest month and July is the driest month.

Watering hole in Nairobi National Park Thomas Kriese Licence: CC

Other Safety Considerations

Though the risk of catching it in highland Nairobi is negligible, there are sporadic incidents, thought to be attributed to infected mosquitoes that arrive there on a bus from a lower-lying destination. Considering this, visitors are urged to still take the necessary precautionary measures to stay safe. These include covering bare skin after dusk, sleeping under treated nets, using mosquito repellent sprays and creams as well as taking malaria prophylactics. To prevent heatstroke or heat exhaustion, visitors are urged to always stay hydrated, wear wide brimmed hats, a good pair of sunglasses and to apply good sunscreen whilst out in the African sun.