This December, Nairobi National Park turns 70. Kenya’s oldest park is also the most popular. It is perhaps the only place in the world where animals roam freely within the confines of a major capital city. The park is accessible with any kind of vehicle. You can also take advantage of the Kenya Wildlife Service bus that ferries people to and from the park at regular intervals over the weekends.
Among the popular attractions here include the ivory burning site, Impala picnic site and the former warden’s house now turned into a restaurant. However, one does not need to worry about transport into the park. The animal orphanage and Nairobi Safari Walk located at the entrance to the park are accessible to all.
Charges are Sh430 for adults and Sh215 for children (excluding vehicle charges). Safari Walk and the animal orphanage charges are Sh215 for adults and Sh125 for children
Located along Langata Road near the Carnivore Restaurant is Uhuru Gardens. The grounds hosted Kenya’s independence celebrations in December 1963. Two monuments were erected three decades ago to commemorate the event.
The grounds are a popular picnic site for Nairobians especially during the holiday season.
Charges: Free entry for revelers and Sh200 for a vehicle.
The popular getaway deep in Karen was founded by Betty and her Kenyan (and third) husband Leslie-Melville to conserve the endangered Rothschild giraffe.
Enjoy feeding the giraffes with food pellets from a raised platform. The platform also allows you to have eye to eye contact with a giraffe, the only time you will be on the same level with the tallest animal on the planet. Here you can literally pet a giraffe, get a kiss or that longed for selfie.
A few metres from Giraffe Centre is the magnificent Giraffe Manor, the home that Betty and Leslie-Merville bought but is now one of the most exclusive restaurants in the city. However, entry here is only possible through advance booking.
Charges are Sh200 for adults and Sh50 for children.
Within minutes of leaving the city centre, all that you know about civilization recedes into the past as the peace and serenity of Karura Forest takes over. The only marks of human developments being directional signposts erected periodically within the forest.
Karura Forest is one of the last remaining natural forests within the confines of the capital. In the past, however, it was in danger of being wiped out by corrupt individuals leading to spirited fights for its reclamation. The struggles to save Karura were led by the late environmentalist Professor Wangari Mathai.
Learn about the indigenous trees and their uses through clearly marked labels in the forest. But Karura is more than just trees.
A flight of steps made of hewn stones leads one to some caves that once hosted the late founding president Jomo Kenyatta and his colleagues in the freedom struggle. They are also considered sacred by the local communities that used them as places of worship. Be careful though as these caves may harbor a cobra or a python looking for a quick lunch.
The meandering tracks off the caves lead to the spectacular 50-feet Karura Falls, another key attraction in the forest. Cascading over three decks of rock before settling to a gentle flow down the river, the falls are a sight to behold.
Before exiting towards Limuru Road, take some time to enjoy aquatic life at the enchanting Lily Lake. As the name suggests, the lake is full of lilies with their purple blossoms. Egyptian geese, grey herons and other water birds abound.
Charges are Sh200 for a Kenyan adult and Sh50 for a child per day.