Travel Tips: Any Time Game Drive at Nairobi National Park

The Nairobi National Park has always been reserved a page or two in our travel diaries here at Safari Sense. Over the years, we’ve had varied experiences in this unforgettable slice of paradise within Kenya’s capital city.

Some days are lucky. Especially when the traffic is low on an early weekday morning game drive. Chances of seeing a lion hunt are high. Animals and birds are most active when the air is still cool and crisp.

Other times you can really have a rough time. Bad weather and no predator sightings can distract someone from the otherwise uncertain and beautiful nature of the park itself.

The unique ecosystem continues to fascinate, and is often the first taste to a real Kenyan safari. There are very real prospects of seeing four of the big five on a one-day game drive.

A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) reviewed its entry fees to major parks downward in a move geared towards promoting local tourism while boosting the travel and holiday scene.

A casual scan on social media revealed a host of interesting activities. There had been excellent and regular sightings of several leopards and lions within the park in recent days.

Photos of seasonal birds amid herds of zebra and impala harems in social media brought life and colour to an otherwise slump time of the travel year caused by the corona virus.

Suddenly it dawned on me that for the past months, we had nearly forgotten about the wild place that is well within the city’s boundaries.  The Nairobi National Park is home to over 100 mammal and 400 bird species, and despite its unique proximity to urban life, there’re skilled guides who know exactly where to look.

We arrived at the Langata main gate little after 9 a.m on a chilly Friday morning. Armed with our camera, hot sandwiches, cocoa, coffee, we set out east towards Impala Point starting a two-hour game drive…

The absence of wilderbeest is conspicuous, as they’ve dispersed towards the athi-kitengela plains.  But herds of buffalo and zebra can be seen across at the grass ridge.

At the dam, several water birds can be seen, while the odd ostrich keeps an eye on a Maasai giraffe.

Our tips for a game drive at Nairobi National Park:

  • Carry pair of binoculars, but a DSLR camera is much better (both, if possible).
  • Be open-minded and make friends with others. Tour guides communicate with each other over radi and are most willing to help you have a great time… you only need to ask!
  • Dress comfortable, be patient
  • Carry snacks and drinks especially a lot of water!

Gazetted in 1946 as the first East Africa park, Nairobi National Park is famous for it’s close proximity to Nairobi City. It’s a mixture of grass plains and highland dry forest, including a permanent river.

A day tour at Nairobi National Park offers a gentle orientation into the world of safari giving you a taste of what to expect from the bigger parks spread around the country.

As in all national parks, the animals are free to come and go as grazing dictates; the usual ‘faunal reservoir’ adjacent in this case the Kitengela Conservation Area and the Ngong Hills Game Reserve.

For all its ‘urbanity’, remember the game is as wild as anywhere.

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