Visiting Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Nairobi National Park is the only national park in the world located inside of a capital. Only 4 miles (7 km) from the center of Nairobi, this park allows for the public and visitors to easily do an afternoon or weekend safari cheap.
Nairobi National Park is open to everyone, although you must have a vehicle, or book a guide to go in. you can't walk around, except for a few designated areas as the animals here are wild. One of the places you can get out is at the Ivory Burning memorial site and picnic area. This area is where president Daniel arap Moi burned 12 tons of ivory at this site as a gesture that Kenya will not stand for poaching. This event marked turn towards conservation and animal protection that, to this day, Kenya continues to fight.
You can also rent a tent at the Nairobi Tented Camp, the only camp inside the national park where you can spend a night and take early morning safaris.
Driving through the Nairobi National Park is amazing. You can see a range of Kenyan wildlife in their natural habitat. This is not a zoo or stocked enclosure. The animals here freely roam in and out of the park. Although 3 sides of the park are fenced (to protect the animals from the public, whose houses are built right up to the edge of the park's boundary), the south side is open to allow for natural migration of the wildlife. These animals are wild! In your vehicle they see you as a large boxy animal, but if you step out of it, you become, what the local guides jokingly refer to as, ìcheetah chowî. It is really different to see wild animals with the backdrop of Nairobi city behind them, and you have to keep reminding yourself that these animals are not tame.
Some of the animals you may see here are black rhinos, African buffalo, zebras, gazelles, warthogs, lions and giraffes. (This is just an example of some of the animals that live in this park).
You actually never know when you may pull around a corner and stumble upon a giraffe grazing in a gully a mere 10 feet from you!
The only major animal you will not see wild here are elephants. At just over 117 sq. km (just under 29,000 acres) this park is too small for elephants. But don't worry. There is an elephant and rhino orphanage located inside the park, that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases elephants that have been abandoned due to poaching, disease, or natural causes. They also have a rhino who was found blind, and whom is now a permanent resident of the sanctuary (he will never be able to survive on his own in the wild due to his blindness). Online, at https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphans.asp you can read the story of each animal at the sanctuary and adopt online (this is especially awesome if you are planning on visiting Kenya because you will have access to the parent hours when you arrive).
The elephant sanctuary is open to the public from 11 am to noon each day, but if you adopt an elephant or rhino (and it's only $50 a year), you can visit during 'parent hours' which happen at feeding time each evening. (And oh my gosh are these baby elephants adorable as they come running down the path to the feeding pens!).
The Nairobi National Park is definitely a unique and special national park. And Kenya is one of the leaders in animal conservation. If you get a chance to visit Kenya, make sure you stop at the Nairobi National Park for at least an afternoon.
Dani Blanchette blogs at http://goingnomadic.com.