Giraffes in Nairobi National Park Giraffes in Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is one of Kenya's main attractions for tourists and locals. Kenya's first National park is a unique ecosystem and the only protected area in the world close to a capital city. Nairobi is the only city in the world to boast a 12,000 hectare park. Despite the urban pressures, the park contains a good variety of wildlife and a wide variety of habitats which attracts a wide range of wildlife, with over 400 species of bird being recorded in the park as well as over 100 types of mammal. It takes 3-4 hours to get around and see most of the park.
Located only 7 km from Nairobi, the savannah ecosystem has many entrances and is easily accessible from all of Nairobi whether arriving into Jomo Kenyatta Airport, from Wilson airport or travelling South, from the city itself. The usual access of the park is through the K.W.S. Headquarters situated on Langata Road at 7 km from the City center. The park has also two secondary gates along Mombasa Road and three on Magadi Road.

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Nairobi National Park features a large range of natural and artificial environments. Predominant are the open grass plains with scattered acacia bush. The western side has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest.  To the south are the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela migration corridor which, during the rain season, are important wildlife dispersal areas. Man-made dams within the park have added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic biome.
The animals found in this national park are diverse. Major wildlife attractions are eland, impala, Maasai giraffe, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, African buffalo, waterbuck, baboon, warthog and rock hyrax. During the migration period, this means in August-September, gnu and zebra can be seen. The park, known for its rhino sanctuary, is also the natural habitat of the black rhinoceros, which can be easily seen in its own habitat. Lion, cheetah and leopard are hard to spot. More than 500 species of permanent and migratory birds have been spotted in the park. The most common birds are the ostrich, secretary bird, eagles, vultures and plenty of water birds.
Most species can be observed during the dry season, when animals migrate here from other areas knowing that there's always a source of permanent water. Generally, the park is a seasonal park and is dependent to the annual migrations. Although the western and northern sides of the park are fenced, the southern part is completely open allowing animals to migrate. They usually leave the park through the Kitengela corridor (Athi plains) late March, come back late July, then they leave the park in November to finally come back in January.
Since the Nairobi National Park is the prime tourist attraction here, there are several safaris arranged for tourists. The southern track running along the Mbagathi (Athi river) is the most interesting as it has picnic sites, view points over escarpments and cliffs, artificial dams and a walking trail at the Hippo pool. The park is well managed by the K.W.S. (Kenya Wildlife Service) and the 150 km of tracks and signposts are good. The two main attractions in the K.W.S. Headquarter are the Animal orphanage and the Nairobi Safari Walk, both of them worth a visit.
  • Kenya Wildlife Services Orphanage - was established in 1964 and its purpose is to protect abandoned, orphaned or injured animals found in Kenya national parks and to release them free into the wilderness whenever it is possible. Nevertheless, unique species have found their place into the orphanage, becoming a mix between an orphanage and a zoo. The place is more like an orphanage for the rehabilitation of wounded animals. Orphans are cheetahs, hyenas, chimpanzees, lions, ostriches, zebras, leopard, baboons and many other species.
  • Nairobi Safari Walk - project seeking to aware visitors to Kenya’s wildlife and their habitats. It has been created to provide a higher standard of conservation project. The safari walk on the wooden-deck is a recreative experience, although the number of animals is less than in the K.W.S. Orphanage.
There are no accommodations inside the park. Only accommodation inside the park is –The Nairobi Tented Camp, a private luxury camp. Other accommodation can be found in the environs of Nairobi city.
Nairobi National Park definitely worths a visit even if you are just passing through Nairobi, or you are on a business trip, or just have a few hours to kill before your flight.
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