Nairobi National Park
Nairobi, as a capital city, is unique in having a wildlife park on its doorstep. Indeed the city abuts the park on all but the southern perimeter so it is possible to photograph a rhino, browsing peacefully among the whistling thorn with high rise office buildings in the background. Some of the wildlife is migratory and when there is grazing and water outside the park it moves out into Maasailand through the unfenced southern boundary. But there is also a resident population of plains game and carnivores so a visit at any time of the year IS rewarding. Well laid out, with exceptionally well-maintained roads, the park is a model for all others, geophysically and administratively.
Of the most popular species only the elephant is an absentee. But the rest of the Big Five - leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino - as well as a multitude of other creatures are all well represented.
The Athi river at the park's far end forms a delightful natural boundary to the park and provides shady walks through a riverine forest well populated with monkeys and birds and in the river pools, hippo and crocodile. Large populations of giraffe, wildebeest, eland and Thomson's gazelle dominate the plains, with strutting secretary birds and powerful ostrich as attractive counter-points. The park's prides of lion are well observed by the park staff and an inquiry at the gate, when entering, will usually elicit their whereabouts. Cheetah, too, have made the park famous and these might be located with a similar inquiry. More recently the Park has been designated as a rhino sanctuary and more than 50 rhino have been moved into the park from remote parts of the country where poaching was rife. So Nairobi Park is really the most favoured place in the country to see rhino. Along the south western boundary of the park the scenery is magnificent. This is an area of steep valleys created by streams joining the Athi river. Hyrax are plentiful on the rocks alongside the road and the sure-sighted may spot klipspringer or mountain reedbuck generally unobserved by the thousands of visitors who search the park annually. Later, on this boundary road there are splendid views over the Kitengela plains, the dispersal area for the park's ungulates. The park side of the river is an area favoured by zebra
Within the park's 117 sq km there are over 80 species of mammals and more bird species than can be found in the whole of the British Isles. During the rains, both the long and the short, wild flowers are in profusion and there are places where the plains are an unending wave of yellow daisies (Bidens palustris) which seems not to be liked, as food, by any wildlife.
Special thanks to the Kenya Association of Tour Operators for helping GORP develop Kenya parks information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication