Meet Blue, the newest addition to our family. A few weeks ago, because he’s been a very good boy, we decided to take him on a special outing to Karura Forest. Obviously, we wanted to go too. This is one of the places Mark looked forward to visiting the most even before we got here. The stars aligned, the day was beautiful and we had a little pup who needed to explore his wild side!
Getting to Karura Forest (Sigiria)…
Karura Forest is a large urban forest in Nairobi and has five entrances open to the public. We decided to go through the Sigiria Forest entrance off Thigiri Ridge Road since it was the one closest to us. Like most places in Nairobi, it was easy to get there and back using a cab and the ride each way lasted about 20 minutes.
If you are looking for more details on how to get there using your private vehicle or public transportation, the Friends of Karura Forest Website has more information on this.
Once we arrived at the gate, we paid the entrance and picnic fees and also registered Blue. As Karura Forest is very popular for dog walks, officials make it compulsory for owners to register their pets and follow the guidelines set for them. This ensures that dogs who visit the park have updated vaccinations and do not pose harm to other dogs, forest residents and visitors.
At the entrance, park rangers also checked what we had inside our picnic basket. I think this was mainly to ensure that we did not bring in any plastic containers as Karura Forest has been designated a Plastic Free Zone. They enforce this to the T! Once inside, we walked on the trail with Blue for a while before discovering that we had gone past the picnic area.
Just in case you decide to have a picnic at the Sigiria Forest, the picnic area is next to the cafe and the obstacle course is close to the entrance. It is not clearly marked at this time, but you’d see some picnic benches which will indicate that you’re in the right place.
I’m not sure how crowded this place gets, if it does at all, but it was just us in the picnic area for the entire time we were there. Seems like most people who visit this part of the Karura Forest come here for runs, dog walks in the off-leash area and bike rides.
After a few hours of enjoying our picnic, we packed up, dropped our extra luggage by the gate and took Blue for another walk. It is so wonderful to have a place like this right in the middle of the city. Once you’re in it, you’ll almost forget that there’s a buzzing, busy city right outside.
Karura Forest Activities
We visited Karura Forest mainly to have a picnic and also to give Blue a chance to run around and play in the woods but there are a few other activities to do here. If you’re keen on birding, learning about the forest vegetation, biking, horse-riding and just being in nature, then you’ll enjoy your time here.
There are also the Karura Waterfalls and The River Cafe, which we didn’t get to on this visit, that I hear are worth checking out. Lastly, the Sigiria Entrance has a coffee shop where you can stop to grab a quick bite before or after your time in the forest.
Karura Forest Charges & Entrance Fees
At the time of this writing, Karura Forest charges an entrance fee of Ksh100 and Ksh50 for Kenyan adults and children respectively; Ksh200 and Ksh100 for resident adults and children respectively and Ksh600 and Ksh300 for adults and children who are non-residents. They also charge a fee of Ksh150 and Ksh100 per adult and child under 12 to use the picnic area.
You can find more information here.
Like Paradise Lost, another spot we went picnicking at, I’d say you should consider an outing to Karura Forest only if you have enough time to spend in Nairobi or if you want to skip the regular tourist attractions. It is a great location but personally, I think there are so many other places to check out if you are visiting for a few days only. Ultimately, the choice is yours 🙂
So, would Karura Forest be on your Nairobi itinerary? Also, do you love to travel off the beaten path or check out popular attractions? Let me know in the comment section below.