Welcome to Kenya’s most accessible yet incongruous African safari experience. Nairobi National Park is, at 45 square miles, one of Africa’s smallest parks. Set on the city’s southern outskirts, the park has abundant wildlife which can, in places, be viewed against a backdrop of city skyscrapers and airliners coming in to land – it’s the only national park on earth that borders a capital city. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by it all. The park is host to a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered black rhino as well as a wide diversity of bird, with up to 500 permanent and migratory species.
The well known elephant rescue, David Sheldrick Trust, runs a sanctuary in the park that hand-rears orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves, and later releases them back into secure sanctuaries. Orphaned and sick animals are brought to the sanctuary from all over Kenya. Nairobi National Park has also acquired the nickname ‘Kifaru Ark’,a testament to its success as a rhinoceros (kifaru in Kiswahili) sanctuary. The park is now home one of the world’s densest concentration of black rhinoceros with over 50 individual animals.
Lion and hyena are also commonly sighted on safaris within the park; park rangers at the entrance usually have updates on lion movements. You’ll need a bit of patience and a lot of luck to spot the park’s resident cheetahs and leopard as they tend to be a bit more shy. Other regularly spotted species include gazelle, warthog, zebra, giraffe, ostrich and buffalo.
Not far inside the park’s main Langata Road Gate, the Ivory Burning Monument marks the spot where, in 1989, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi burnt 12 tons of ivory at a site near the main gate. This dramatic event improved Kenya’s conservation image at a time when East African wildlife was being decimated by relentless poaching.
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