Nairobi National Park ranks first among the live entertainment most people come to see in Nairobi. The 117 KM2 (44 MI2) Nairobi National Park is so close to the city, one could call it a suburb inhabited by animals. Just a short drive from Nairobi’s Central Business District, it has a unique positioning as the only National Park within a city.
Here, city scrapers provide a spectacular backdrop to the wide open grass plains and scattered acacia bush that play host to a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. Visitors can enjoy the park’s picnic sites, 3 campsites and the walking trails for hikers.
Nairobi National Park has a rich history, being the first in Kenya. Records show settlers from Nairobi including Isak Dinesen, author of the award-winning book, Out of Africa, rode horses among gazelles, impala, and zebras in this reserve. The famous Kenyan-born conservationist, Mervyn Cowie, upon returning to Kenya after a 9-year absence in 1932, was shocked to see how the population of wild game on the Athi plains had dwindled as humans and livestock encroached. The park was established in 1946 and is Kenya’s first.
The area that later became the Nairobi National Park was part of what was known as the Southern Game Reserve. Hunting was not permitted in the reserve, but nearly every other activity, including cattle grazing, dumping, and even bombing by the Royal Air Force was.
Cowie started to campaign for the establishment of a national park system in Kenya and the rest, as they say, is history. You can read Cowie’s full story in our Hall of Fame section. Remember not to get out of your car except at the signposted picnic places and even then, this is still at your own risk.
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