If you are limited for time and happen to be in Nairobi, Kenya, but would love to see Africa’s animal kingdom up close, then the Nairobi National Park is the place for you.
Just outside of Nairobi, in fact, 7 kilometres/4 miles from the city, is the first National Park to be opened in Kenya. It is one of the smallest animal parks in Africa, but don’t let that deter you. It contains a large and varied contingent of wildlife. Here you can be game viewing and still be in sight of the skyscrapers of Nairobi in the background. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by them.
The park is surrounded by an electric fence on 3 sides, and the Mbagathi River across, which animals can migrate at will. The concentration of wildlife in the park is at its greatest in the dry season when areas outside the park have dried up.
What types of animals will you see?
Species found in the park include African buffalo, baboon, black rhinoceros, Grant’s zebra, Tanzanian cheetah, Coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s gazelle, hippopotamus, African leopard, Masai lion, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, impala, Masai giraffe, ostrich, vulture, jackal, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, and zebra. The park has the world’s densest concentration of black rhinoceros (50 approx), and is one of only a few parks where visitors can be certain of seeing it in its natural habitat. It should be noted that large wildebeest and zebra migrations are in July and August.
The park also has a large diversity of birds, with up to 500 permanent and migratory species in the park. In fact, dams have created a man-made habitat for birds and aquatic life.
These animal and bird species should be more than enough to satisfy any game enthusiast.
One method of viewing the animals is to take the Nairobi Safari Walk, which offers a unique setting for visitors to see Kenya’s flora and fauna in habitats that simulate natural environments. Unobtrusive fences erected in deep trenches create a pleasant adventure that can last one to two hours.
What else is there to see in the Nairobi National Park?
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust runs a sanctuary in the park that hand-rears orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves and later releases them back into secure sanctuaries. Orphaned and sick animals are brought to this sanctuary from all over Kenya. It is one of the most successful rhino sanctuaries.
Not far inside the park’s main gate is the Ivory Burning Site Monument. This marks the spot where, in 1989, Kenyan president, Daniel Arap Moi, burnt 12 tons of ivory at a site near the gate. It was intended to stop the killing of elephants and discourage ivory buyers around the world. This dramatic event improved Kenya’s conservation image at a time when East African wildlife was being decimated by relentless poaching.
Even if you are visiting other Kenya game reserves, the Nairobi National Park is still one to include on your Kenya vacation.