Nairobi National Park Guide [Updated for 2020]

Nairobi National Park offers a taste of Kenya’s incredible wildlife and astounding beauty – without even leaving the city. Spend your morning surrounded by giraffes, rhino’s cheetahs, and lions and still be home in time for lunch. 

Yes, it may not live up to Kenya’s more famous and impressive parks like Maasai Mara and Amboseli. But what other city in the world has this kind of experience on its doorstep? 

If you want to escape into nature for a day, Nairobi National Park is the perfect place to go.

Quick Tips

  • Visit Nairobi NP early in the morning for the best wildlife viewing.
  • Nairobi NP has the highest concentrations of wild rhinos in Kenya. You’re guaranteed to see many on your visit. 
  • Combine Nairobi NP as a day trip with nearby attractions like David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary and Nairobi Giraffe Centre.
  • If you don’t want to do a full game drive in the park, check out the Nairobi Safari Walk.

Nairobi National Park Wildlife

The park is home to a huge range of animals, both large and small. 

Over 100 mammal species live in the park, including 4 of the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos. All that’s missing are elephants, but you can see plenty of them at Amboseli and Massai Mara. 

You’ll also get up close with giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, baboons, hogs, and so much more. 

Nairobi NP is a hugely successful rhino sanctuary, and the species has been reintroduced to the park in huge numbers. Visiting the park is your best chance to see one of the most endangered animals on the planet. 

For bird watchers, over 400 migratory and endemic bird species live in or visit the park in large numbers. 

Nairobi national park lions

Best Time to Visit

Nairobi NP is best visited early in the morning. 

The local wildlife will be waking up and very active as they look for food and water. Depending on the season, the park can either get really hot or rainy by the early afternoon. 

Alternatively, you can come to the park for sunset. If you’re self-driving, this is a great option, as you can find the perfect viewpoint to watch the sun go down behind the hills. 

You can visit the park all year round.

Nairobi national park rhinos

Nairobi National Park Tours

Game Drives

Plenty of tour companies in Nairobi run daily game drives in the park, usually in the early morning and late afternoon. 

The tour lasts 5 hours in a comfortable 4×4, with stops across the whole park. They’ll pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or apartment, and you’ll get an expert guide as your driver. 

You’re guaranteed plenty of close encounters with the park’s wildlife.  

Combination Tours

For the complete Nairobi tourist experience, combine a game drive in Nairobi NP with a trip to some of the city’s other popular attractions. 

A trip to Nairobi NP perfectly compliments The Giraffe Centre and David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary. 

Self-Drive Options

If you have a 4×4, it’s possible to visit the park without a guide or driver. 

However, you’ll need experience driving on the terrain and within close distances of wild animals. Otherwise, you risk scaring the animals away, completely missing them, or getting stuck in the mud for the afternoon. 

If you’re visiting the park for the first time, join a tour or hire a private driver and guide. It’s more fun, comfortable, and convenient.

Park Entry Fees

Ticket TypeAdultChild
Kenyan Citizen400200
Resident of Kenya400200
Non-Resident/Tourist$35$20

Additional Charges

All entry fees to Nairobi NP and any additional charges will be included in your game drive tour package. 

If you visit the park with your own vehicle, you’ll have to pay extra charges.

If you stay overnight in that park at Nairobi Tented Camp, you’ l have to pay camping fees per person.

Nairobi Safari Walk

If you’re looking for an even more relaxed wildlife experience, Nairobi NP also has a little known Safari Walk that doesn’t require entering the park, doing a game drive, and paying park entry fees. 

Tucked away in the far northwest corner of Nairobi NP, the Safari Walk is a 2.5km raised boardwalk that winds through three distinct ecosystems: wetlands, safari, and forestry. 

As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’ll get to see a wide variety of wildlife that populates Nairobi NP and all of Kenya: cheetahs, lions, hippos, monkeys, zebras, rhinos, and much more. Along the way, you’ll learn about Kenya’s diverse ecosystems, with plenty of excellent educational plaques and guides. 

If you’re spending the day in Karen and Langata, Nairobi Safari Walk is an excellent stopover on your way out of the city.

Nairobi National Park Map

Nairobi National Park Hotels

There are no hotels in Nairobi NP itself. However, you can stay at Nairobi Tented Camp, a boutique luxury campsite in the park. 

If you want to stay close to the park, there are plenty of great hotels along its border. Even better, many double as excellent airport hotels and are all close to Nairobi’s most popular tourist attractions and restaurants.

Main Gate/North of the Park

Tamarind Tree Hotel – A boutique art hotel with a heated outdoor swimming pool. Rooms are bright and colourful, just like the bar, restaurant, and lounge areas. 10-minute drive to Nairobi NP and Wilson Airport – for flights to the coast.

Emara Hotel Ole Sereni – Right on the border of Nairobi NP, the Ole Sereni offers stunning vistas overlooking the park from your room, the infinity pool, and the restaurant. The hotel itself is a luxurious mix of contemporary and traditional safari lodge architecture.

Eka Hotel – A modern, chic hotel with great outdoor facilities, including an excellent pool. Staff are attentive and can prepare a ‘breakfast box’ if you’re leaving for the park or an early flight in the morning. 

The Panari HotelOverlooking Nairobi NP and close to the airport. Facilities include an indoor swimming pool and spa, fitness centre and dining. 

Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport – One of two Hilton Hotels in Nairobi, Hilton Garden Inn offers the high standards and excellent facilities you expect from the chain. The rooftop infinity pool and bar area is definitely the highlight. 

South of the Park

What if you’re not in Nairobi and want to visit the national park but skip the city altogether? You can stay at some delightful, cozy lodges south of the park and enter from there. 

Nyati Hill CottagesTraditional self-catering cottages with Swahili touches and private gardens. The beautifully landscaped gardens look out over Nairobi National Park and include a pool, restaurant, and breakfast area.

Nairobi National Park Giraffe

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Nairobi National Park worth it?

If you’re visiting Kenya for a short holiday, you’re better off visiting one of the country’s bigger parks. 

However, do you live in Nairobi? In that case, the National Park is an excellent day out of the city – especially when combined with other tourist attractions like the giraffe centre and elephant sanctuary.

Are there lions in Nairobi?

Yes! 

Plenty of cities around the world have national parks closeby. But nobody else has one just 20 minutes/7 km from the city centre.

Is Nairobi National Park safe?

Absolutely!

I’m not aware of any attacks or robberies in the park, and the animals pose no threat, so long as you stay in your vehicle and designated picnic areas and walking trails.

Which is the biggest national park in Kenya?

Tsavo is the biggest national park in Kenya. Tsavo National Park over 22,000 km sq. and made up of two separate national parks: Tsavo West and Tsavo East. 

Of the two, Tsavo West National Park is a much better experience, with a lot more wildlife and better, more varied scenery.

Park Contacts

Nairobi National Park is managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). For any inquiries about the park, contact KWS. 

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