KWS mulls fees hike at top parks

KWS rangers ferry carving during World Lions Day at Nairobi National Park in 2021.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It will cost you more to visit some of the country's leading parks, including the Nairobi National Park beginning in July.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which is in charge of running all of the country’s game parks, has proposed to increase the entry fees into the Nairobi National Park from Sh430 to Sh500.

The new fees will apply during the high season between July and March.

Situated just seven kilometres from the city centre, the park is one of the most accessible safari destinations in Kenya and is a tourist magnet for Nairobians and foreigners.

Visitors love it for its wildlife, which grazes across breathtaking grass plains, and acacia bushes against a backdrop of the Nairobi skyline.  

Within the park, visitors can view the rare endangered black rhino, leopards, cheetahs, gazelles, zebras, warthogs, and birds. Over 400 bird species thrive in the park.

In the proposed new charges, foreigners will also pay a higher fee of $60 (Sh7,429) from the $43 (Sh5,324) they used to pay previously.

Nairobi National Park, which is famously dubbed “The World’s only Wildlife Capital,” also allows visitors to enjoy picnics and has three campsites and walking trails for hikers.

The fees will, however, go down during the April to June short off-peak season, KWS says. During this period, visitors will pay Sh300, while foreigners will part with $40 (Sh4,953).

The proposed increments targeting wildlife lovers come at a time when the high cost of living crisis is already squeezing Kenyans hard.

But KWS reckons the new fees regime will help it generate additional income to run and conserve national parks in the country.

KWS had not responded to our queries about the new plan by the time of going to press.

Past attempts to hike park entry fees were met by protests from Kenyans. But KWS has invited Kenyans to share their views by no later than February 24.

“KWS’s… mandate (is) to conserve and manage wildlife and its habitat in Kenya and enforce related laws and regulations,” said KWS in a notice seeking public views on the latest attempt to hike the fees.

“In order to achieve the above mandate, KWS collects revenue and charges due to the National government and develops mechanisms to sustainably fund wildlife conservation activities.

“In the spirit of public participation… KWS invites stakeholders and members of the public for consultative public forums on the proposed conservation fees for 2023- 2025.”

Under the new regime, mountain climbing enthusiasts will also have to dig deeper into their pockets to scale up Mount Kenya.

A three-day package will cost the avid climbers Sh1,880 from July, up from Sh1,290 currently. A six-day package, on the other hand, including camping, will cost Sh3,750, up from  Sh2,580 currently.

KWS has also introduced special fees for the use of drones in game parks. Drone enthusiasts will fork out Sh15,000 daily to operate drones within KWS parks.

Those engaging in commercial photography and videography for films, adverts, dramas, music videos and short features will pay Sh5,000 per day. Photo sessions such as weddings, graduations and personal events will attract a fee of Sh3,000.

Kenya’s tourism earnings more than doubled to Sh167.1 billion in January to August last year from Sh83 billion in the same period in 2021, according to official statistics.

The earnings were a result of a 91 per cent rise in the number of international visitors to 924,812 in the period partly due to a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Tourism alongside horticulture, tea, and remittances are Kenya’s top foreign exchange-earners.

The Standard
Make this Easter memorable with our KES999 annual offer!