May 25, 2022

12 Reason To Love and Visit Nairobi National Park: All About Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park

The Nairobi national park was established on 16th December 1946 as the first national park in Kenya.

The park has a spectacular wildebeest and zebra migration, home to over 400 bird species in addition to over 100 mammal species. Its also home to lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. These are four of the Big Five.

Nairobi national park is located 10 km /6.2 miles south of Nairobi city center, and it covers 117 Km2.

The Park is in Nairobi County. It borders Kajiado and Machakos Counties to the south and Machakos to the east and southeast. It’s currently the major earner for KWS ( Kenya Wildlife Services), bringing in more than Kshs.400 million in 2018 (USD.3.7 million) and with projections of increased revenues of kshs.1,252,923,515(USD.11 million by 2023/2024

The park was established “To protect diverse critical habitats, especially highland dry forest, savannah and wetlands, and their associated wildlife species of conservation concern such as Rhinos and Lions for the benefit of present and future generations.”


The purpose of this post is to highlight the main attractions at Nairobi National Park. The main attraction at the park falls under these three categories.

  • Biodiversity – These are the plants and animal at the Nairobi National Park
  • Scenic – The impressive breathtaking beautiful natural scenery at the park
  • Social – The role Nairobi national park has played in wildlife conservation etc


1. The Park is Blessed With Diverse Habitat

The national park is associated with a wide range of vegetation

These include; grassland, open dwarf tree grassland, open dwarf tree grassland, forest glade, dense, tall forest, open tall riverine woodland, scattered low-tall grassland, open low shrubland, and riverine vegetation.

The park is mostly covered with grasslands (34 km2 ), closely followed by open dwarf tree grassland and open low shrubland, covering nearly 25 km2 and 18 km2.

Nairobi National Park habitat – Image courtesy of NNP

2. The Rivers and Dams in Nairobi National Park

The main rivers that flow through the park include are Mbagathi and Mokoyiet Rivers. In addition, the park also has three major dams, i.e., Athi basin dams, Hyena dam, and Nagolomon.

These dams and rivers play an important role in supporting wetland habitat that supports diverse aquatic biodiversity.

image 1
Rivers and Dams in Nairobi National Park -Image courtesy of NNP

3.Rich Wildlife Species

The Nairobi National Park Kenya cannot be compared with Maasai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo National Park, and Lake Nakuru National park in terms of wildlife species.

However, When on a safari in Nairobi National Park, you can expect to see the following main attractions.

  • African buffalo and baboons
  • 100 mammal species and over a dozen different reptiles
  • Home to over 400 migratory and permanent birds
  • Thomson’s gazelle, the Masai giraffe, elands, impala, ostriches, jackals, warthogs and waterbucks
  • 45 lions among other large carnivores such as leopards, cheetah, and hyena
  • The tourists and locals can see Hippopotamuses freely roam around the Mbagathi River and crocodiles around the dams.
lion 17337 640 min
impala 2800376 640 min
cheetah 5689872 640

4.Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)

The Nairobi National Park is listed as a key Important Biodiversity Area (IBA ) by Birdlife International. This means that the park contributes significantly to global biodiversity.

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Birds at Nairobi national park 2

The park is a roosting site (a place to sleep and rest, with care) for bird species such as Falco naumanni, known as Lesser Kestrel.

The globally threatened Crex crex (Corn Crake) is another visitor from the Palaearctic. Another threatened bird that visits the park is the Balaeniceps rex (shoe Bill) and (Basra Reed Warbler ), among other birds.

Birds such as the red-throated tit and the Madagascar pond heron are prevalent in the park’s woodland areas.

The table below shows the birds that enabled Nairobi national park to be designated as an IBA.

SpeciesCurrent IUCN Red List Category
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clangaEN
Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosusVU
Kori Bustard Ardeotis korNT
Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idaeEN
Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentariusVU
White-backed Vulture Gyps AfricanusCR
Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelliCR
Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotosEN
Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorumEN
IBA trigger species 11

5.There Is a Rhino Sanctuary at The Nairobi National Park

The park is a rhino sanctuary for southern white rhinos Ceratotherium simum (NT) and black rhino Diceros bicornis (CR)

rhino conservancy
Image courtesy of KWS Twitter account

This major rhino sanctuary is used for breeding and restocking other parks.

6.The Park Is Home To Elephant Rehabilitation Centre – Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

When on a safari in Nairobi National Park, spare your time and visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

If you are an animal lover, then the thought of being close to the baby elephant during the feeding time is a sight to behold. Just make sure you are there early enough to secure yourself a front row during the feeding time, as the feeding session can be quite busy because of the crowds. The best time to visit is around 11 am.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a major attraction run by an NGO that has been very successful in orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation. It’s considered the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. The foundation has successfully raised over 263 elephant orphans and attended to over 7,275 veterinary cases, and operates over 16 anti-poaching teams in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS)

Sheldrick Wildlife staff attending to attending to a rescued orphan “Zawadi”
( Image courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Twitter account)

7. Ivory burning site monument

ivory monument scaled


A Nairobi National Park safari is not complete without a visit to the ivory burning site monument.

This is a major attraction and a historical landmark in wildlife conservancy in Kenya and the world.

In 1989, eleven 11 tonnes of ivory were set on fire by the late Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi. In 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the burning of 100 tonnes of ivory at the same venue. The tusk burn on that day is equivalent to tusks from amounting to tusks from 6000 elephants.

These two events demonstrate Kenya’s resolve to tackle elephant poaching and played a significant role in turning the tide against poaching in Kenya, which has decimated local elephant populations.

A visit to the ivory-burning monument should be on your to-do list when planning a safari in Nairobi National Park.

8.Home of Masai Giraffe

giraffe 2222908 640 min

If you plan to see this long-necked and tall animal in its natural surroundings, then a safari to Nairobi National park will not disappoint.

By 2019 there were around 99 Masai giraffes in Nairobi National Park, and their number continues to grow.

It’s important to note that the Masai Giraffe is estimated to have declined by 50% over 30 years; The IUCN has listed it as an endangered species. Threats to Maasai giraffe include land-use change and poaching because of meat and products such as bones, hide and tail hairs.

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We have nine (9) main subspecies of Giraffes in Africa. The difference between the Masai Giraffes and Rothchild giraffes at the famous giraffe center is that the Masai giraffes have jagged edges and are known to be the darkest of the giraffe’s subspecies. On the other hand, Rothchild, the giraffe, has large dark brown spots that do not extend to the legs.

A visit to the Giraffe center is another fantastic safari idea where you explore and experience the beautiful landscapes where the Girrafes live, not to mention the trail along the Gogo river where tourists can see the Giraffes in their natural environment.

9.Various Picturesque Gorges Sites

The park has deep rocky valleys and breathtaking gorges covered by scrub and long grass.

The gorges at Nairobi National park include Mokoyiet, Leopard, and Mbagathi gorges. The highest point is at an altitude of 1790m above sea level.

10.Wildlife rehabilitation and education facilities

The education facilities and animal rehabilitation centers you can visit in the park include the Nairobi Safari Walk and the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.

These facilities provide an opportunity for environmental education. The educational facilities are frequently visited by schools and, by so doing, act as an outreach program to communities outside the park.

11.Camping and Picnicking

If you prefer sleeping in the wild with the wild, then Nairobi National Park got you covered.

Available facilities at the camping sites include adequate shelter, benches, water, and latrines.

The park also offers picnic facilities at the following venues to conduct corporate events, weddings, bush dinners, film production, picnic, and team-building sessions.

  • Mokoyiet,
  • King Fisher
  • historic ivory burning site
  • Impala

For inquiries or to make any camping reservations, don’t hesitate to contact the respective warden or the Marketing & Business Development Department at the KWS Headquarters in Nairobi.

Other campsites operated by the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) include

Mwea National Park, Hell’s Gate National Park, Tsavo West National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Mt. Elgon National Park, Mt. Kenya National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Amboseli National Park, Aberdare National Park, Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Sibiloi National Park and Ruma National Park amongst others.

Lastly, it’s important to note that all public camping sites have access to water and latrines, while the special campsites consist of the grounds only.

12.Nairobi Safari Walk


Located outside the park’s main entrance gate, Off Langata Rd, The Nairobi safari walk has raised wooden boardwalk that allows for an up-close view of the birds and wildlife.

Nairobi safari walk has more than 100 local tree species and is home to wildlife such as the white rhino, pygmy hippo, bongo, and big cats and primates.

This is a fantastic place to take your children out as it offers them a chance to get closer to the animals, just like it would happen in a zoo.


What To Take With You

  • Drinking water, picnic items, binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a guidebook

What Are The Activities Options

  • Game viewing
  • Corporate Events such as Bush Dinners, Team Building, Video and Film Production.
  • Events such as Weddings.
  • It has restaurants, where visitors relax for meals while overlooking the park.
  • Perfect outing place friends, couples and family bonding, game viewing and get-togethers

What Are The Charge – Park Entry Fee

Park Entry fee

* Click here to refer to the KWS Tariffs for other services and charges 

* Modes of Payments acceptable are MPESA, VISA Card, Direct Deposits to KWS Bank Accounts at any gate 

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How Many Gates Does Nairobi National Park Have ?

The park has 7 gates. 2 gates being for KWS service use only. The gates are:

  • Main gate: KWS headquarters Langata road
  • Cheetah Gate
  • Langata Gate
  • Maasai Gate
  • Mbagathi Gate(service gate)
  • Banda Gate(service gate)

How many Visitors Come To Nairobi National Park In A Year ? :How Much Revenue is generated by the Park ?

Refer to the table below from the NNP Board.

Total visitorsRevenue(Ksh)
Visitors and Revenue generated by the park

What Is The Parks Climate

The park is relatively hot and dry from January to March. from the beginning of April to June, the park hot and wet .from July to October, the park is warm and wet

Is Nairobi National Park fenced ?

Ony three sides of the park are currently fenced, of major concern southern part of the park, which is open, leading to a rise to encroachment to wildlife migratory paths and breeding grounds in the area.

KWS is proposing to build a special fence on the southern tip bordering the Mbagathi River to prevent wildlife from accessing high-density residential areas and establish a buffer zone along the southern park boundary, which is made up of privately owned land.

What Are The Threats Facing The Park : The Major Issues of Concern

1.Loss of habitat

Given the expanding population and urbanization, there have been significant and increasing pressures in the dispersal area, which is not protected but very important to the health of the park.

2.Decline in wildlife population

The park’s wildlife population has experienced a significant decline for some species over the last three decades. A wildebeest migration that had 30,000 animals in the 1960s has completely collapsed, with a mere 200 currently using the park. Warthog, waterbuck, hartebeest, and gazelle populations have declined by 70%, down to one-third of what they were just forty years ago.

3.Wildlife Poaching

Nairobi National Park has not historically experienced many poaching issues. However, in the past several years – presumed to be an outcome of human settlement encroachment around the park and areas in the dispersal area – there have been increasing poaching incidents in the dispersal area. Because the park is so small in size and the dispersal area’s open space is getting smaller, wildlife and people are closer together; thus, incidents are rising.

4.Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Despite the increased human settlement and land fragmentation through fencing in the dispersal area, wildlife still roams outside the park throughout the dispersal area. But because of the changes in land tenure and the reduction of contiguous land area, these animals have less space to roam, forcing the pastoralists to graze livestock in smaller areas with heavier wildlife concentrations. This increases potential conflict.


Water pollution. All the sewage and waste from the growing and unplanned suburban town of Ongata Rongai eventually drains into the Mbagathi River, a major water source for the wildlife. There is no urban sewage drainage system for this town.

Air pollution. Air pollution in the park is caused by a leather tannery, which led to the closure of Cheetah Gate in 2009 because of air conditions that caused worker-health problems and wildlife aversion of the area.

Solid waste pollution. Solid waste from Ongata Rongai pollutes the park through garbage, mainly plastics that find their way into the Mbagathi River. Solid waste along the edges of the park is also degrading aesthetics and tourism quality.

Noise pollution. Sources of intense noise from landing and taking off aircraft at Wilson and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, vehicles on the southern bypass, Mombasa highway, Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), cement factories

6.Climate change With the rise in global climate change, different regions worldwide are experiencing changes in their weather patterns. While there is no accurate forecast of the weather conditions in the next decade, some preliminary studies point to a rainfall increase in certain regions of Kenya. As a result, the park’s grassland and shrublands are growing taller, altering the park’s seasonal succession dynamics. This, in turn, affects wildlife browsing behavior and diminishes the tourism quality of the park. Further, due to the increase in human population density in the park adjacent areas, many homeowners use septic systems. Still, the increase in rainfall in recent years causes these systems to fill up more quickly, resulting in septic failures. Given that Nairobi National Park is a central point in the regional watershed, any wastewater not connected to the sewerage system flows into or collects at the park. Moreover, industrial and solid waste is not appropriate.

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