NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK

Wild Lions & Leopards – Minutes from Downtown

Lions? Leopards? And Chimps

In what other world capital could you breakfast at your hotel and then minutes later be amongst lion, buffalo, giraffe, and rhino in the wild. Nairobi National Park lies just 7 km (4 mi) from downtown Nairobi but hosts a vast array of wildlife – cheetah, gazelle, hyena, impala, zebra, ostrich, and more – all in their natural environment.

But unlike any other wildlife park, your sightings of the wildlife are set against a background of skyscrapers and even airliners on final approach to the Nairobi airport. This unique nature reserve is a startling blend of two different worlds, both equally accessible for your enjoyment.

The park is so close you can take a one-day or even a ½ trip here and easily be back in town for afternoon drinks.

A family of lions in a Kenya safari park
Rhino resting near the coast of a lake

Kifaru Ark

What is Kifaru Ark? Kifaru means “rhinoceros” in Kiswahi.

The park is known for its dense population of black rhinos. They are well-protected here and are so abundant the reserve provides rhinos to other parks throughout Kenya.

The Great Wildebeest Migration

If you should be here in July and August be prepared for another unusual sight – the migration of thousands of wildebeests and zebras throughout the park. This is the yearly journey of great herds roaming through the wildlands in search of ever taller grasses. Set against the cityscape in the distance, it’s an unforgettable sight.

Zebras walking along a red dusty path through a safari park

The Trails

Zebra walking in Ol Pejeta during the dry season

This is a wild natural park, but in some respects, it offers the easy comforts of a city park as well. You’ll enjoy the many easy walking trails which also feature picnic sites. And not all the action is on terra firma – look about to take in the more than 400 bird species adorning the sky and trees. You may also find lots of Nairobi schoolchildren enjoying the park with you.

Grasslands

Open bush

Dense bush

Riverine Forest

Swamps

Through these spaces, your safari will also bring you close to giraffe, monkey, baboon, impala, gazelle, zebra, hippo, and hyena. While in the trees above, the sanctuary’s 300 bird species will entertain with their busy activity and colors. And all this exciting wildlife is framed by towering Mt. Kenya in the distance.

Don’t Miss…

Endangered Black Rhinos – Offering one of Kenya’s densest populations of black rhinos, they will be hard to miss! The protected breeding program here is a testament to best conservation practices and guarantees you sightings of the endangered creature.

Four of the “Big Five” – Take a game drive to see lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos. Not to mention giraffes, zebras, hippos, impalas, hartebeests, baboons, elands, and more.

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage – Another one-of-a-kind treat. This sanctuary within the park rescues and adopts injured and orphaned baby elephants and rhinos. Come here at feeding time to see masses of the adorable youngsters running for their giant baby bottles!

A pair of buffalo in a Kenyan safari park
Sunset in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Ivory Burning Site Monument – History was made here when Kenya’s leaders oversaw the symbolic burning of tons of contraband ivory. These periodic burnings memorialized Kenya’s commitment to the abolition of the ivory trade and the protection of its elephants.

Wildebeest & Zebra Migration – From July to October, thousands and even millions of grazers cross into Kenya on their timeless search for sustenance. If you’re at the park in July or August you can’t miss this incredible display of wildlife.

Tourists standing and looking out of the open top of a 4x4 safari jeep

Community Projects

These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.

  • Education for local students, including computer skills training
  • Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
  • Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.

History of Nairobi National Park

This is Kenya’s oldest national park, officially opened in 1946. Prior to that time, the settling of Nairobi pushed the animals further away from the growing city. This resulted in a thinning of the herds and calls for their protection. In response,  the 30 thousand acres national park was established as a haven and a respite for the nearby city.

The history of Nairobi National Park dates back to the early 1900s, when the British colonial government set aside a large portion of land for wildlife conservation, in order to protect the wildlife from widespread hunting. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1940s that the park was officially opened to the public. The park was initially intended to be a safe breeding ground for big game species, but it quickly became a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. Today, Nairobi National Park is one of the most important wildlife reserves in Africa, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Despite being located just a few miles from the bustling city of Nairobi, the park remains a vital sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife species. Over the years, it has been home to lions, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and many other iconic African animals. The park’s unique location and rich history make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in wildlife conservation and the natural beauty of Africa.

A rare brown spotted zebra seen on safari in Lake Nakuru
Rhino in Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park Facts

This smallish park of 30,000 acres or 117 sq. km (45 sq mi) is home to great concentrations of wildlife in proximity to a major world capital.

Location: The park is 7 km south of Nairobi, taking no more than 15 minutes to get there from downtown.

Climate: Except for the rainy season of April through June, the park is generally dry. The average daytime temperature is 22oC/72oF.

Best time to visit: The dry season is best for viewing the wildlife (July – March). April – June is the rainy season with muddy trails and more challenges for seeing the animals. Visitors can watch the migration unfold during July and August.

Operating Hours: The park is open from 06:00 am to 06:00 pm daily.  

Getting there: By road – from Nairobi’s center travel via Langata Road. You can book a full-day or half-day excursion with Africa Kenya Safaris.

Rhinos seen on an East African safari tour with Africa Kenya Safaris

Nairobi National Park FAQs

Got questions about Kenya’s oldest national park? Find out all you need to know about Nairobi National Park with our FAQ guide!

Nairobi National Park was established in 1946, making it Kenya’s first national park. Located just a seven kilometers from the city center, it covers an area of 117 square kilometers and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including lions, giraffes, and black rhinos. Today, it remains a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking to experience Kenya’s natural beauty without venturing too far from the city.

The best time to visit Nairobi National Park is during the dry season from July to October and from January to February. During this time, the vegetation is sparse, making it easier to spot wildlife. Additionally, the weather is pleasant with sunny days and cool nights, making it a comfortable time to explore the park. July and August are the best months to visit and experience the spectacle of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Nairobi National Park is located in Kenya, just seven kilometers south of Nairobi’s city centre. The park covers an area of 117 square kilometers, is situated by the Athi Plains, and is one of the world’s few wildlife reserves located within a capital city. Despite its proximity to the city, the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, and wildebeest.

Given that Nairobi National Park is so close to Nairobi city centre, visitors typically stay in hotels in Nairobi, and take a Nairobi National Park day trip. It’s a great option for those experiencing safari for the first time, or those looking to economise on their safari holiday.

Nairobi National Park is open every day from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. With the exception of night safaris, visitors are not allowed to enter the park outside these hours, so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. It’s also worth noting that some of the park’s facilities, such as the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, have different opening times, so be sure to check ahead before you go. Or just book a guided tour with us, and we will do all the planning for you!

Based on a recent official count, which was conducted in 2019, there were an estimated 36 lions in the park. The lions in Nairobi National Park are known for their unique behaviour of living in close proximity to humans, making them one of the few lion populations in the world that coexist with a major city.

The best way to experience the Nairobi National Park’s wildlife and natural beauty is by booking a safari tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. We offer a range of customized tours and packages to suit different interests and budgets. Our experienced guides will take you on a thrilling adventure through the park, ensuring you have a memorable and unforgettable experience!

Nairobi National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including over 100 mammal species and over 400 bird species. Some of the park’s notable animals include lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, and black rhinos. Additionally, the park is also home to several primate species, such as baboons and vervet monkeys, and numerous reptiles and insects.

Nairobi National Park is home a dazzling array of African wildlife to see on safari, but sadly grown elephants roaming free are not among their number. Baby elephants can be seen in the protected environment of David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where visitors can watch feeding time. And for those who are looking for a more elephant-focused experience, we can recommend visiting Amboseli National Park or Tsavo East National Park, both of which are known for their large elephant populations and provide an excellent opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close as they roam free.

Yes, Nairobi National Park is open to visitors every day of the week, including Sundays. The park’s opening hours are from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, and visitors are not allowed to enter the park outside of these hours, except on specially arranged night-time safaris. If you’re planning a visit to the park, join a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris to avoid any problems with park closure.

Nairobi National Park covers an area of 117.21 square kilometers, making it one of the smallest national parks in Kenya. By comparison, the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve covers over 1,500 square kilometers, while Tsavo National Park is the largest national park in Kenya, covering an area of over 22,000 square kilometers. Despite its small size, Nairobi National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and is a popular destination for visitors to Kenya’s capital city.

There are several ways to get to Nairobi National Park, including taking a taxi, public transport or private vehicle. However, booking a guided tour or safari with Africa Kenya Safaris is the best way to ensure a hassle-free visit to the park. We offer a variety of transport options to suit different needs, including 4×4 safari vehicles, and our experienced guides who will take you on a thrilling adventure through the park.

Rhinos in Nairobi National Park

Amazingly accessible, yet surprisingly dense with wildlife, this is one of the most unique animal parks in the world. Sightings of lions are not uncommon, and you’re guaranteed to see rhinos as well. With the cityscape serving as an unusual background, your photos will become a most unique memento.

A group of zebras drink from a water hole

Join Us at Nairobi National Park

Let Africa Kenya Safaris whisk you over to this special park. We offer ½ or 1-day excursions leaving from the site of your choice. This is an easy intro to the excitement of safari life and the beginning of your exploration of Kenya’s other great parks.

A charged elephant seen on safari in Kenya
Baby Lion cub resting in the shade seen at the Masai Mara National Park

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Help us create your perfect Safari! Tell us about your travel choices, any unique experiences you desire, and upcoming special occasions.