Beyond the Concrete Jungle: Nairobi National Park’s Urban Safari

Nairobi National Park, which was founded in 1946, is Kenya’s oldest national park. It covers an area of approximately 45 square miles (117 square kilometers) and borders urban areas on three sides. Nairobi National Park is special because it is near the city, but still has many wild animals. This means visitors can have an “urban safari” and see African wildlife in a unique way.

The Wildlife at Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is a sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife, with over 80 different kinds of mammals and more than 400 species of birds calling it home. The park’s unique location near a major city means that its wildlife is accustomed to the presence of humans, which can provide visitors with an up-close and personal safari experience. Here are some of the most exciting wildlife you can see in the park:

  • Lions: Nairobi National Park is renowned for its population of lions. Visitors might be lucky enough to see a pride of lions lounging in the grass, or even on the hunt.
  • Rhinos: Nairobi National Park is also the dwelling place of both black and white rhinos, two species that are critically endangered due to poaching activities. Visitors can observe these majestic animals grazing in the open savannah.
  • Giraffes: Nairobi National Park is one of the few places in Kenya where visitors can see the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. These giraffes have unique markings and are the tallest animals in the world.
  • Zebras: The park is also home to several species of zebra, including the common zebra and the endangered Grevy’s zebra. Visitors can watch these striped herbivores grazing in the park’s open plains.
  • Cheetahs: Nairobi National Park is one of the best places in Kenya to see cheetahs, which are the fastest land animals in the world. These sleek predators can be seen stalking their prey in the park’s grasslands.
  • Elephants: Although not as common in Nairobi National Park as they are in other parks in Kenya, elephants can still be seen grazing in the park’s forests and grasslands. These gentle giants are some of the largest animals on Earth.
  • Birds: Nairobi National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 400 species of birds recorded in the park. Visitors can see everything from the common ostrich to the rare Secretarybird. The park’s wetlands and riverine forests are particularly good places to spot water birds like storks, egrets, and herons.

Besides these animals, Nairobi National Park hosts several other animals, such as hyenas, warthogs, jackals, and gazelles. You can also see baboons and vervet monkeys.

With its wide range of wildlife and ecosystems, Nairobi National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in nature and conservation.

The Experience of an Urban Safari

While a safari in a more remote park might conjure up images of vast wildernesses and sleeping under the stars, a safari in Nairobi National Park offers a different kind of experience. Here’s why:

  • Easy Access: One of the biggest advantages of Nairobi National Park is its proximity to Nairobi. You can easily combine a safari experience with a city break without having to travel long distances to get to the park.
  • Convenience: Since the park is located near a major city you’ll have more accommodation options, restaurants, and other facilities that can make your visit more comfortable and convenient.
  • Wildlife behavior: Animals in Nairobi National Park are used to humans and you will see different behaviors than in other parks. For example, lions in Nairobi National Park are usually active during the day, whereas lions in other parks are more nocturnal.
  • The juxtaposition of wildlife and urban landscapes: The park allows you to see wild animals against the city skyline, which is unique and fascinating. You might catch a lioness and her cubs playing in the grass, with the Nairobi skyline visible in the distance. This creates a fascinating contrast between nature and civilization that is hard to find in other parks.
  • Conservation impact: Nairobi National Park helps to raise awareness about conservation. The park is a popular destination for school groups and community organizations, and there are several conservation projects within the park.

Overall, Nairobi National Park is a great place to experience African wildlife in urban surroundings. You can see many animals and enjoy the contrast between nature and civilization.

Challenges and Opportunities for Conservation

Nairobi National Park has many conservation challenges but also presents many opportunities to promote biodiversity and eco-tourism. Here are some of the key issues and initiatives related to conservation in the park:

  • Human-wildlife conflict: Because of the growing population of Nairobi, the park’s borders face constant pressure from development and urbanization. As a result, animals like elephants and lions frequently come into contact with human settlements beyond the park’s boundaries. The park’s management has taken measures to mitigate these conflicts, like building fences and working with local communities.
  • Habitat loss: Nairobi National Park faces a risk of habitat loss due to climate change, poaching, and other factors. To protect its ecosystems like grasslands, wetlands, and forests, the park’s management has initiated measures such as anti-poaching tactics, water conservation, and reforestation.
  • Promoting eco-tourism: Nairobi National Park provides visitors with many opportunities for promoting eco-tourism and uplifting local communities. By attracting more visitors, the park’s management can generate revenue to finance conservation projects and local development. The park’s visitor center and education programs also increase awareness about conservation issues and sustainable tourism practices.
  • Innovative conservation projects: Nairobi National Park has several innovative conservation projects that protect the park’s wildlife and ecosystems. One project aims to restore wetland habitats, while another compensates farmers for losses due to park wildlife. These projects demonstrate the park’s commitment to conservation and sustainable development.

Overall, Nairobi National Park faces many challenges. By preserving its unique ecosystems and wildlife and engaging with local communities and visitors, it can continue to be a vital resource for Kenya’s conservation and tourism sectors.

Tips for Visitors

If you’re looking for a unique safari experience that combines African wildlife with the convenience of a city location, Nairobi National Park is the perfect destination. Follow these tips to make the most of your trip and create unforgettable memories:

  • Best times to go: Plan your trip to Nairobi National Park during the dry season from June to September and January to February. During these months, the animals tend to gather around water sources, and the weather is milder. Don’t worry if you can’t make it during the dry season – the park is open year-round.
  • What to bring: Pack a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and binoculars for wildlife viewing. Don’t forget to bring a camera to snap photos of the park’s unique landscapes and wildlife. You should also bring enough water and snacks as food and drink options are limited inside the park.
  • Recommended activities: Nairobi National Park offers several activities such as game drives, guided walks, and bird-watching tours. You can also opt for night drives for a chance to spot nocturnal animals like hyenas and lions. Don’t forget to visit the park’s Ivory Burning Site Monument, which highlights Kenya’s fight against poaching and ivory trafficking.
  • What to bring: Pack a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and binoculars for wildlife viewing. Don’t forget to bring a camera to snap photos of the park’s unique landscapes and wildlife. You should also bring enough water and snacks as food and drink options are limited inside the park.

Overall, visiting Nairobi National Park guarantees a unique safari experience in the midst of a city.


Nairobi National Park offers a unique and convenient way to experience African wildlife in an urban setting. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities within the park, from game drives and guided walks to bird-watching and night drives.

In addition to its diverse wildlife, Nairobi National Park also presents several opportunities for promoting conservation and sustainable development. The park’s education programs and innovative conservation projects demonstrate its commitment to preserving Kenya’s biodiversity for future generations.

By adding Nairobi National Park to their travel itineraries visitors can discover a different side of Africa and support the park’s conservation efforts.

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