Nairobi National Park: one of Africa’s smallest jewels

I arrived in Nairobi on Sunday morning and had every intention to rest. However, I felt unusually awake after I unpacked and decided not to waste the day and go to Nairobi National Park instead. I ordered a cab and 20min later I was roaming the streets of Kenya’s capital city. Turned out the park was quite far away but we still made it just in time so I could grab the very last seat on the safari van that was leaving in less than 30mins. I paid my $60 entry fee and waited patiently.

The van was big, and full and the windows provided little visibility. However, I managed to open the window wide enough to be able to see clearly. For the first 30 or so minutes industrial buildings and skyscrapers lined the horizon and we only lost them when we made our way into the heart of the park. It is an unusual experience. I believe Nairobi National Park is the only park in the world that offers that mix of urban and wilderness views coexisting together quite successfully.

The first animal we saw was the zebra. A whole herd of them actually. Complete chaos ensued in the van while everyone was trying to get to a window and see the animals or snap a few shots. Everyone was talking loudly and excitedly while the guide was trying to give us a few facts about the zebras.

Nairobi zebra!

Nairobi zebra!

We then saw a buffalo, way in the distance, could barely tell what it was. But nevertheless it was my first of the Big Five.

Buffalo - my first of the Big Five.

Buffalo – my first of the Big Five.

We continued on a bit faster and after a while it turned out that we were following a lion alert. We stopped and I had to squeeze my way through to the left side of the bus and an open window to get a glimpse of the lioness resting un the shade under a bush. It seemed like more of the sightings were happening on the left side rather than the right side I was sat on. Anyway, it was almost impossible to see anything because of the thick vegetation but the it wasn’t long before the lioness decide to make our day and got up for a walk. She stretched casually and then decided to make our day even better by crossing the road just in front of the van. As she was slowly moving away, our day got even better when it turned out that there was another two lionesses lying in the bush. One paraded in front of the van just like the first one while the third remained where it was, barely visible from the van. My day was made! I couldn’t believe my luck – seeing not one, not two, but three lions on my very first day in Nairobi in the nearby national park. What are the chances!

Preparing to hunt

Preparing to hunt

Then there was an impala, looking at us smartly from among the grass. Again I had to fight to get a small opening at the left side window. We continued the drive to a viewing point, high up in the park and stopped for a break. First thing the guide told us was to watch out for naughty baboons. ‘Only in Africa!’ I thought. The views stretching in the distance below us were heavenly. ‘If there is heaven’ I thought ‘this is what it must look like.’ Far down, barely noticeable was a huge crocodile tanning itself in the hot sun.

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Only in Africa!

Only in Africa!

The views from the viewing point at Nairobi National Park. Quite lovely!

The views from the viewing point at Nairobi National Park. Quite lovely!

We continued our drive and saw a family of hamster like rodents, extremely cute and very much blending with the colour of the rock they were perched on. Then we spotted a herd of giraffes in the distance and then there was nothing but the occasional herd of gazelles. Shortly before we reached the gates I spotted something in the distance. ‘Rhinos! Rhinos! Stop the van! Stop the van!’ I shouted. And there they were  – three, a family actually, enormous white rhinos lunching on a bush. We watched them slowly walking away until we couldn’t see them any longer. I am sure we would have seen elephants too if there were any in the park. Unfortunately it is too small to support their eating habits.

Nairobi giraffes

Nairobi giraffes

The rhinos - the 3rd of the Big Five and only on my first day in Kenya!

The rhinos – the 3rd of the Big Five and only on my first day in Kenya!

To top a perfect day off, the sun was shining that day. In the coldest month of the Kenyan winter. What more could I ask for…


3 thoughts on “Nairobi National Park: one of Africa’s smallest jewels

    • You should! Kenya is definitely the place to do it. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Check out my Masai Mara post – Nairobi was great but the Mara was unbelievable!

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