Nairobi National Game Park

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Nairobi National Game Park

Nairobi National Game Park or Nairobi National Park covers 117km² (45 square miles) and offers a surreal African safari experience just 7 km from downtown Nairobi. Despite its small size, Nairobi National Park has excellent game viewing, especially during the dry season when plains game migrates into the park from the adjacent, and unfenced, Kitengela Plains.
Nairobi National Park has a very successful rhino sanctuary and aside from elephants, you can expect to see giraffes, black and white rhinos, wildebeest, impala, zebras, hippos, waterbuck, warthog, eland, jackal and hyena, and even lion. Seeing these animals against the backdrop of the Nairobi CBD is unforgettable.

Nairobi National Park is the only protected area in the world with such a huge variety of animals and birds close to a capital city. The park was officially opened in 1946 and was the first park to be gazetted not only in Kenya but also in East Africa. The park lies about 5000-6000 feet (1500-1800 meters) above sea level. The vegetation is primarily savannah and plains and has areas of highland forest, acacia, and riverine environments that play host to a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes, and a diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. It is also one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.

The park is governed by the Kenya Wildlife Service  (KWS) whose head offices are located at one of the main gates of this park. This authority runs similar functions in all National parks in the country except national reserves. Inside the park, there is a sanctuary run by David Sheldrick Trust, which hand-rears orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves, and later releases them back into secure sanctuaries. The sanctuary is located close to the park’s main entrance. It was opened in 1963. Daphne Sheldrick set it up after the death of her husband David Sheldrick, the anti-poaching warden of Tsavo National Park.

Best time to visit the park: Nairobi National Park is open all year round and can be visited at any time. However, the dry season from June to September is generally the best time for wildlife watching, when animals can easily be seen around water sources. Wildlife watching is usually difficult during the rainy season (between March and May and October to November). During these months, rainfall might restrict game drives and the grass tends to be very high.

How to get to the Park: The Park has 7 gates, 2 for KWS service use only. The gates are; KWS headquarters, Langata Road, Langata Gate, Maasai Gate, Mbagathi Gate(service gate), and Banda Gate (service gate).  By road: the park is approximately 7 kilometers south of the city center and about 10 kilometers from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. By Air: international tourists fly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and tourists on a combined safari can use a domestic chartered flight to Wilson Airport and then drive to the park.

Accommodation: Nairobi National Park has several high-quality accommodation options, located both inside and outside the park in distinct areas to suit every budget. Nairobi Tented Camp is the only camp located inside the park. The other hotels, camps, and lodges are located outside the park some of which include; Emakoko Lodge, Eka Hotel, Panari Hotel, African Heritage House, Acacia Camp Swara Plains & Ole Sereni Hotel.

Nairobi National Game Park

Nairobi National Park is the closest game park to Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, located only 10 km from Nairobi’s central business district.  The Park was gazetted on the 16th of December 1946 and was the first National park to be established not only in Kenya but also in East Africa and is the only metropolitan national park in the world situated amidst the capital city.

The park’s size covers a total land area of 117 km² (45 square miles), (28,963 acres) and ranges in altitude from 1,533 to 1,760 meters (5,030 – 5,774 ft) above sea level.  Nairobi National Park is fenced on three sides, whereas the open southern boundary allows migrating wildlife to move between the park and the adjacent Kitengela plains. Herbivores gather in the park during the dry season.

Four of the big 5 animals are part of the main attractions in Nairobi National Park.  Other animals include Species found in the park including giraffes, hippopotamus, spotted hyenas, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, cheetah, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, common eland, impala, hartebeest, waterbuck, common warthog, olive baboon, black-backed jackal, and Nile crocodile.

Nairobi National Park is a rhino sanctuary with 76 indigenous black rhinos and 13 white rhinos making it home to the highest number of black Rhinos in Kenya. It is the only park in Kenya with no elephants. They were moved from Nairobi National Park to reduce the Human-wildlife conflict.

Nairobi National Park has more than 520 bird species recorded, making it an astounding destination for day birding tours. Notable birds include Maasai Ostrich, African Darter, African Finfoot, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Spur-winged Goose, African Crowned Eagle, and Secretarybird, among others.

The Nairobi National Park is home to the Sheldrick Elephant orphanage which is home to many sick and injured animals that are brought here for care, rehabilitation or surgery. A visit to this orphanage will teach you about the lives of the animals and how they are rehabilitated back.

This Park has one unique accommodation for those that would like to experience the wild and the city in the same breath. The Nairobi Tented Camp has 9 luxury tents that house 2 people each. They are self-contained with toilets and a shower.

Activities in Nairobi National Park include game viewing, rhino tracking, bird watching, and a visit to the Nairobi Safari Walk, Sheldrick Elephant orphanage, and the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.

Nairobi National Game Park Facts

Nairobi National Park Vegetation | Ecosystem

Nairobi National Park is electrically fenced on the northern, eastern, and western boundaries whereas its southern boundary which is formed by the Mbagathi River is not fenced and thus is open to the Kitengela Conservation Area and the Athi-Kapiti plains. These plains act as a migration corridor allowing wildlife between the park and the adjacent Kitengela plains.

The park comprises different vegetation types but mainly features the dry transitional savanna type of vegetation, which consists of wide-open rolling grass plains and the backdrop of the city scrapers, partly thick woods near the city outskirts, and predominantly scattered acacia bush, which play host to a wide variety of wildlife.

The western side of this park has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest, there are also stretches of broken bush and deep rocky valleys and gorges with scrub and long grass. Tree varieties including Muhuhu Tree, Cape chestnut, and African olive (Mutamaiyu in Kikuyu) also cover the park.

On the open southern boundary of the Park are the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela migration corridor which are important wildlife dispersal areas during the rainy season. Man-made dams that have been created within the park have added a further habitat favorable to certain species of birds and other biomes.

Climate: Dry & Wet Season | Best Time to Visit

Nairobi National Park is generally dry except during the wet season. The average daytime temperature is 22o Celsius (72o Fahrenheit) thus wildlife viewing is at its finest in the dry season when animals can easily be seen around water sources, from June to September which is the longest dry period, and from January to February the short dry season.

It’s possible to visit the park any time of the year, however, wildlife watching is usually more difficult during the long rains which usually occur between March to May, and the short rains between October to November.

Location | How to get to Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is only 10 km from Nairobi’s city center via Langata Road and visitors can get there by private or public transport. The park is a 15-minute drive from the city center and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The park can be accessed via several park gates which include Langata Gate, the Main Gate at KWS headquarters on Langata road, Mbagathi Gate (service gate), Cheetah Gate, Maasai Gate, and East Gate (Embakasi) and Banda Gate, etc. 

Mammals | Wildlife & Animals

Nairobi National park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including four of the big five mammals (Lion, Buffalo, Rhino, and Leopard). There are also zebras, giraffes, hippos, antelopes, crocodiles, cheetahs, eland, impala, Grants, and Thomson’s gazelles, kongoni, reedbucks, wildebeests, warthogs, baboon, monkeys, and serval cat.

Notable Reptiles that can be seen include; Monitor Lizard, Crocodile, Agama Lizard, Jackson’s Chameleon, Rock Python, Puff Adder, Sand Snake, Leopard Tortoise, and Serrated Hinged Terrapin.

Bird Checklist | Birdlife

Nairobi National Park has more than 520 bird species recorded, making it an astounding destination for day birding tours. Notable Birds include Maasai Ostrich, African Darter, African Finfoot, Dwarf Bittern, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Spur-winged Goose, African Crowned Eagle, Secretarybird, and African Fish Eagle.

Others include Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Augur Buzzard, Tawny Eagle., Bateleur Eagle, and Grey-crowned Crane, Kori Bustard, White-bellied Bustard, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Bronze-winged Courser, and African Skimmer.

Nairobi National Park Opening Time

The park gates open from 06:00 am and close at 07:00 pm daily.

Nairobi National Park Entrance Fee (1st January 2024 to 31st December 2024)

 Nationality Adult Rate Per Day

Child Rate Per Day

East African Citizen

500 Kenya Shillings

215 Kenya Shillings

East African Resident

500 Kenya Shillings

215 Kenya Shillings


60 US Dollars

20 US Dollars

Rhinoceros Sanctuary

Nairobi National Park has the highest density of black rhinos in Kenya and thus functions as a rhino sanctuary. The park has been nicknamed “Kifaru Ark” – Kifaru is Kiswahili for rhinoceros.  As a successful rhino sanctuary, the park has an excellent record for supporting rhino species and nurturing them until they are re-located to their former range and other upcoming sanctuaries.

Due to this success, it is one of the few parks where a visitor can be certain of seeing a black rhino (Eastern Browse Rhino) in the wild.

Where To Stay In Nairobi Park | Nairobi National Park Accommodation

Staying within Nairobi National Park as part of your safari in Kenya is an unforgettable experience. Nairobi Tented Camp is the only lodging that is situated inside the park.

Other hotels near Nairobi National Park include Ololo Safari Lodge, Nyati Hill Cottages, Osoita Lodge, Masai Lodge, The Last Village Lodge, The Emakoko Lodge, Twiga Campsite, and the Tamarind Tree Hotel.

Nairobi National Park Picnic Sites

Nairobi National Park has several picnic sites where you can stop and break while on a game drive. These include;

Kingfisher Picnic Site (Junction 27C )

A cool, green-shaded area with picnic tables, this is an ideal site for early morning bush breakfasts, lunchtime relaxation, or evening sundowners.

Mokoyeti Picnic Site (Junction 14B)

An open cliff-top site with thatch-roof shaded picnic tables, latrines, and extensive parking, this is an ideal site for family picnics at any time of the day.

The Ivory Burning Site (Junction 1A)

Immediately inside the main gate, this area marks the spot where, in 1989, former president, Daniel Arap Moi, set fire to 12 tons of stockpiled ivory then worth over USD$ 1 million in a bid to eliminate the mass slaughter of Africa’s elephants. An important icon of wildlife protection, this popular picnic offers a broad area of open grass, picnic tables, shade, and latrines.

Leopard Cliff Observation Point (junction 15)

A simple clearing reached by a minor diversion from the main road that leads through the Park to Cheetah Gate, this observation point offers fine panoramas of African wildlife as well as a small lookout with vistas into the rocky gorge below. Note: there are no picnic benches, shaded areas, or latrines at this site.

Impala Observation Point and picnic site (Junction 23B)

High on a hill minutes from the main gate, this site offers a stone-built rondavel with panoramic views and a picnic area (with shaded picnic benches and latrines). It is also an excellent spot from which to scan the park for safari wildlife.

The Hippo Pools and Nature Trail (Junction 12)

In the east of the Park, amid the meandering coils of the Athi River, lie the hippo pools, an important site for wildlife conservation. Here groups of hippos wallow in the river, emerging to graze the riverbanks at night.

Terrapin and Nile crocodile bask on the exposed mud banks and the surrounding woodland features vervet monkey and Defassa waterbuck. Immediately adjacent to the hippo pools is a spacious shaded picnic area with running water, latrines, and a shaded rondavel picnic site.

Shaded benches also punctuate the short self-guided nature trail, which is permanently patrolled by KWS rangers and leads out of the picnic area to follow a 1km (20 minute) circuit along the river. Note visitors must vacate the hippo pools area by 5.15 pm.

Nairobi Animal Orphanage | Nairobi Education Centre

Nairobi Animal Orphanage

The Nairobi Animal Orphanage is a refuge for wild animals and is located in the Nairobi National Park. The Animal Orphanage is just 20 minutes (10km) from the center of Nairobi and is situated near Kenya Wildlife Service, along Langata Road. The Nairobi Animal Orphanage is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm (seven days a week). It serves as a treatment and rehabilitation center for wild animals.

There are more than 20 animal and bird species including lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, serval cats, rare Sokoke cats, warthogs, leopards, various monkeys, baboons, and buffalo. Various birds can also be viewed including parrots, guinea fowls, crowned cranes, and ostriches.

Observing animals at the orphanage is different and not as majestic as spotting them roaming in the wild in healthy conditions. However, the experience of visiting Nairobi Animal Orphanage is one of a kind. It is exciting to interact close-up with the wildlife and also know that these animals are survivors. 

While being there, you don’t need a guide. All animals’ cages are labeled with information for you, from the smallest bird to lions. The label mentions their stories, how they were rescued, where they came from, who took care of them in the orphanage, and lastly whether they were injured and abandoned. 

Below are the 2024 entry fees;

* Non-Residents Adult: 25 US Dollars & Child: 15 US Dollars
* Citizens
Adult: 250 Kenya shillings & Child: 125 Kenya shillings
* Residents Adult: 250 Kenya shillings & Child: 120 Kenya shillings

Nairobi Safari Walk (boardwalk with uninterrupted views of the Animals)

Nairobi Safari Walk

The Nairobi Safari Walk offers a raised wooden boardwalk that allows for uninterrupted views of the animals, and is a showcase for Kenya’s National Parks and reserves, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country while on safari.

Nairobi Safari Walk is about 7 km from the city centre and is easily accessible on tarmac roads. Located off Lang’ata Road, Kenya Wildlife Service head office. It opens from 9:00 am till 5:30 pm. Available activities include bird watching, walking, photographing, and game viewing. The safari Walk has 3 distinctive ecosystems, namely, wetland, savannah, and forestry.

The first ecosystem you encounter when you enter the Nairobi Safari Walk is a Wetland covered in water lilies and fringed with papyrus. This is also home to grazing pigmy hippos and lazing crocodiles.

The next habitat in line is the Savannah environment which plays host to an albino Zebra in a herd of its regular species, Antelopes, Giraffe, Hyena, the rare Bongo, a White Rhino, Leopards, Cheetahs, and Lions. 

Raised boardwalks meander through the different enclosures, with signboards along the way providing useful information on the species of plants and animals found there. Strategically located viewpoints close to the enclosures offer a close-up look at the occupants going about their daily lives.

A nature trail through a Woodland, the last of the three habitats in the Nairobi Safari Walk, showcases some of Kenya’s indigenous plants, with signposts along the trail describing their traditional uses. Benches at various locations along the trail provide resting places for anyone wishing to take a moment to enjoy the forest sights and sounds.

The Nairobi safari walk hosts diverse animals including Zebras, Antelopes, Primates, Rare Bongos, White Rhinos, Albino Zebras, Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions, Tigers, sea creatures, and birds of every kind. It is also home to some 150 species of local trees.

Below are the 2024 entry fees;

* Non-Residents Adult: 25 US Dollars & Child: 15 US Dollars
* Citizens
Adult: 250 Kenya shillings & Child: 125 Kenya shillings

* Residents Adult: 250 Kenya shillings & Child: 120 Kenya shillings

David & Daphne Sheldrick Wildlife Trust | Haven for Elephants & Rhinos

Daphne Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage

The Nairobi National Park is home to the David Sheldrick Trust Animal Orphanage  which hand-rears and re-releases orphaned elephant and rhino calves. The Elephant Orphanage Nursery offers a safe haven to orphaned baby elephants that are rescued from parks and reserves in Kenya.

The orphanage is located within Nairobi National Park about 17 km from the city center. The orphanage rescues baby elephants that have been orphaned due to poaching, drought, human/ animal conflict, etc, and raises them until they can be released into the wild.

Over 100 elephants, found as orphans and raised by the trust, are now living wild lives in Tsavo National Park in Kenya. The age range of the elephants can vary from a few months to three years. Each elephant is assigned to its own keeper, who acts as a surrogate mother and will stay with the elephant until it is released back into the wild in Tsavo East National Park.

The orphanage also has three reintegration units located in the Greater Tsavo Conservation Area, Ithumba, and Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest. Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage nursery is open to the public daily between 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. You can visit the baby elephants from 5:00 pm (by appointment) when they return to the stockades for the night.

Elephant orphanage entrance fee: 500 Kenyan shillings per person (about 7 US Dollars).

Booking & Reservations Nairobi National Game Park Contact

Mobile: +254-721-242-711
WhatsApp: +254-721-242-711
Reservations: +254 718-179-967

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