The Nairobi Arboretum was our most visited destination of 2020, so I thought it is only fitting that I begin the year 2021 with a post about this park. For Mark, going to the park to run or walk our dog was a weekly affair. It could have been more if we lived closer to it or had our own private transportation but weekly runs and walks in this park sufficed for the last year. As for me, I accompanied these two park lovers biweekly to have a walk or a picnic.
Getting to the Nairobi Arboretum
The Nairobi Arboretum is located on state house road in Kilimani. The easiest way to get there as a foreigner is via Uber or Bolt. The cost from our place in the Westlands Area is usually between 150 and 200 Ksh ($1-2) each way. If you’re driving in your own vehicle, you can follow the directions on Google Maps to get there.
Nairobi Arboretum Entry Fee – 2022
At the time of this writing, the Nairobi Arboretum charged an entrance fee of Ksh50 and Ksh20 for adults and children respectively. The new fee as of January 2021 is ksh65 for adults. It is the same as the car park fee. Children pay ksh27.
This is one of the few places in Kenya that charges the same fee for citizens, residents and foreigners. The fee can be paid at the gate only via Mpesa or a card.
From a few reviews I have seen online, the card option is not always available, making it somewhat difficult for foreigners who do not have Mpesa set up to gain access. I think this is worth taking into consideration if you plan to visit the Nairobi Arboretum since the centre does not accept cash.
In addition to the entrance fee, the Nairobi Arboretum charges an extra Ksh1,322 and Ksh3,306 ((updated for 2021 and 2022) for photography and videography respectively. You may, however, take pictures with your smartphones for free.
An Afternoon Picnic at the Nairobi Arboretum
The first time I went picnicking in Nairobi, I visited Paradise Lost in Kiambu County. Our next picnic location was at the Karura Forest (Sigiria Entrance). Because of its proximity, the Nairobi Arboretum has become a favourite location of ours for picnics as well.
Initially, I had overlooked picnicking here because it tends to get very crowded. At any given day, there are large groups of people exercising or just hanging around. The Arboretum is also a very popular place for prayer gatherings and it is not uncommon to find a large number of people praying loudly all around the park.
Having said that, there are few areas and time frames where you can enjoy a relatively quiet picnic in it. Also, if the loud noises and population doesn’t bother you, you can simply set up anywhere and enjoy the scenery around.
Nairobi Arboretum Activities
The Arboretum exists largely for the preservation and study of trees. If that’s something you’re interested in, it may be worth checking this place out. It is also a great place to go running or to walk your pet. Unlike the Karura Forest, there are no dogs-off-leash areas and you’re expected to keep your dogs on a leash throughout the park’s premises.
Also unlike Karura Forest, riding a bike inside the Arboretum is not permitted. Generally, it’s a place you could visit to go running, take a leisurely walk, have a picnic or simply people-watch :). You can check out this website for more details on activities you can do here.
Nairobi Arboretum: Opening Hours
The Arboretum is open all year round from 6:00 am to 6:15 pm.
Overall, the Nairobi Arboretum is nice to visit if you live within the city or are visiting Nairobi for a long period of time. If you’re visiting momentarily and are looking to spend some time in one of the parks, I’d recommend a visit to Karura Forest instead. There are a few more activities to engage in while you’re there and compared to the Nairobi Arboretum, it is more organized.
As always, I am on the lookout for serene picnic locations in Nairobi or elsewhere in Kenya. Please share your favourite locations with me!
Also, have you made any travel plans for this year? That is assuming (praying and hoping) that the pandemic is over? I’d love to hear about them too. In my next post, I’ll share some of my goals, travel and otherwise for the year. Hope you stick around! 🙂