This is Kenya’s most accessible yet incongruous safari experience. Set on the city’s southern outskirts, Nairobi National Park (at 117 sq km, one of Africa’s smallest) has abundant wildlife that can, in places, be viewed against a backdrop of city skyscrapers and planes coming in to land – it’s one of the only national parks on earth bordering a capital city. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by it all.
The park has acquired the nickname ‘Kifaru Ark’, a testament to its success as a rhinoceros (kifaru in Kiswahili) sanctuary. The park is home to the world’s densest concentration of black rhinos (more than 50), though even the park’s strong antipoaching measures couldn’t prevent poachers from killing one of the rhinos in August 2013 and then again in January 2014. They were the first such attacks in six years, and reflect the current sky-high Asian black-market price for rhino horn.
Major Attractions: Lions and hyenas are also commonly sighted within the park; rangers at the entrance usually have updates on lion movements. You’ll need a bit of patience and a lot of luck to spot the park’s resident cheetahs and leopards. Other regularly spotted species include gazelles, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, ostriches and buffaloes.
The park’s wetland areas sustain approximately 400 bird species, which is more than in the whole of the UK.
Wildlife: Nairobi NP is a good place to see some of the more unusual antelope species including oribi, a grassland special. Coke’s hartebeest, or Kongoni, is well represented and if lucky, a herd of shy eland will come into view – Africa’s biggest antelope. Pairs of little kirk’s dik-dikcan are spotted among the whistling thorn bushes in the west of the park.
Nairobi National Park has a good variety of wildlife. Apart from elephants, most big safari animals are present. There is a very good chance of seeing a rhino. The white rhino is easiest to spot as they graze on the open plains, but the park is one of Kenya’s most successful sanctuaries for black rhino, which like to keep hidden in the thickets. Lion, cheetah, Masai giraffe and buffalo are just some of the animals you can encounter on a half-day trip.
Getting there: Nairobi National Park is located 9km/ 5mi south of Nairobi. The park is usually visited as a half-day or full-day trip from a hotel in the city. Getting to the city of Nairobi is easy – it’s one of the biggest and busiest transport hubs on the continent. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
Where to stay: Staying within Nairobi National Park as part of your game tour of Kenya is an unforgettable experience. Nairobi Tented Camp is the only lodging that is situated inside the park, and this Tier 2 tented camp is reminiscent of those used by early explorers in Kenya. With only eight guest tents, the camp gives you a sense of being in the remote African bush with all of the necessary conveniences, such as full bathroom with bucket shower, private veranda, comfortable bed and much more, all set amidst its wildlife ecology.