The Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife park located within a metropolitan city. If you really think about it, that’s pretty wild – no pun intended! Right in the heart of the city of Nairobi is a 117 sq. km wildlife park, the home to some 100 mammal and 400 migratory and endemic bird species.
Due to its proximity, it is no wonder that this park is widely visited by local and foreign safari lovers alike. Being a safari lover myself, I’ve been wanting to go for a while and I finally got the opportunity to do so over the past weekend.Safari in the City – Find out everything you need to know about exploring the Nairobi National Park! Click To Tweet
Mark and I decided to combine two things we loved on this visit – safaris and picnics. Luckily, the Nairobi National Park offers both. We packed a good picnic brunch and set out early in the morning to explore the park and increase our chances for a good game drive.
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Nairobi National Park Safari
We arrived at the Nairobi National Park’s Main Gate after a 20-minute drive from our home and purchased our 24-hour entry ticket at the gate.
As with most parks in Kenya, we sighted some of the smaller animals as soon as we drove through the gates. There were several gazelles and zebras in the park. I was ecstatic to be able to see giraffes up close and zebras against the backdrop of the city.
Animals in Nairobi National Park
Having visited several other parks in Kenya, including the Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park, I tried to keep my expectations low during this safari. However, deep down, I was hoping that we found all the big game during our drive.
The Nairobi National Park is home to animals including lions, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and cheetahs, among others. The only member of the big five that cannot be found here is the elephant.
After driving a few hours without any major sightings of members of the Big 5, we happened upon a group of safari vehicles racing towards what we assumed was a great sighting and followed them.
Our pursuit paid off with the sighting of a family of rhinoceroses. By the way, in writing this article, I got to learn that a group of rhinos is called ‘ A Crash’! Did you know that? Male rhinos are called ‘bulls’, females are called ‘cows’ and their babies are calves.
Shortly after the rhino sighting, the safari cars were off again and we followed them to a viewing of three lions ‘hiding’ in the bushes. So far, we had now seen 3 members of the big four animals in Nairobi National Park – i.e. the lion, water buffalo and rhino. I was content with our outing and we decided to call it a day.
Nairobi National Park Picnic
We planned to have a picnic in one of the picnic sites in the park but ended up not doing so. We drove to one of the picnic sites (I don’t remember the name) but it looked quite run down. I was also quite sceptical to step out of the car, without a guide, ranger or other safari cars nearby.
We wound up having our packed brunch inside the car but perhaps the next time we return, we’ll find a more suitable place within the park to have a picnic.
Overall, I really enjoyed our city game drive. The highlight of the day was the sightings of the crash of rhinos. The little one was incredibly cute! Finding lions in the park was also exciting for me. We planned on checking out the Safari Walk and the Animal Orphanage after our game drive but we were both quite tired by the end of it, we decided to leave those for another visit.
Generally, I would recommend a visit to this park for locals and residents as the entrance fees are quite affordable. For visitors, if you have no plans of heading to the other National Parks in the country, this might be an option to consider.
If we didn’t see the lions and rhinos during our safari, I would have been inclined to recommend a visit to Naivasha instead. However, parks and sanctuaries in Naivasha do not have predators and you have a better chance of seeing them in Nairobi National Park.
If you do plan to visit, here are some details to help you plan your travels…
Nairobi National Park Entry Fees
High Season Prices (July – February)
Kenyan Adult Citizens and Residents pay Sh430 to gain entry, while children pay Sh215. For Non-Residents, the fee is $43 for adults and $22 for children. There’s also a car entry fee of Sh300 for vehicles with less than 6 seats. You can find updated information on park fees here.
Low Season Prices (March – June)
Kenyan Adult Citizens and Residents pay Sh400 to gain entry, while children pay Sh215. For Non-Residents, the fee is $40 for adults and $20 for children
Nairobi National Park Opening Hours
The Nairobi National Park operates between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm daily and it is open every day of the week. If you plan to combine a safari with a visit to the Nairobi Orphanage and Nairobi Safari Walk, those open between 9.00 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. daily.
Is Nairobi National Park Open on Sundays
Yes, the Nairobi National Park is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. We visited on a Sunday morning and found it a great time to go.
Best Time to Visit the Nairobi National Park
The best time to visit the Nairobi National Park is during the dry season, from June to September. It is easier to spot the resident wildlife during these months as the vegetation is less dense and more animals congregate for drinks at the watering holes.
We visited in August and the vegetation was already quite dense. Our lion sightings were very lucky as we could barely see them lying in the grass.
If you do visit during the rainy season, a 4WD is recommended to navigate the terrain. Also, note that the months of April and May usually have heavy rains, so plan accordingly.
If you’re considering hiring a driver and a guide for your trip, the ‘Get Your Guide‘ website is a good resource to find tours that suit your budget and timing…
PS: if you book a tour using the link, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Is Nairobi National Park on your list of places to visit Kenya or have you already been there? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!