Nairobi is one busy capital. Almost everyone is a rush to go somewhere or anywhere. Whether in an urgent rush or not, the town almost seems to be on the move. Even in the wake of dawn, there is still a buzz of human activities. The flow of nature is systematic across the county. You will be surprised [or not] by what lies within the city under the sun, as it is fondly called, with clear blue skies and the wildlife that coexist with humans harmoniously. The diversity within is supreme for a global capital city that holds unique green spaces.
This starts off a series highlighting places to visit within the 47 Kenyan counties, under ‘County Gems’ and a snippet of the ‘Green Spaces’ series. Today we begin with county number 47, Nairobi. (Part one is within the Central Business district heading West of Nairobi.)
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust
Just 10 minutes’ drive from the Central Business District (CBD) lies a place endowed with Kenya’s history, culture, contemporary art, and nature. It all began when a group of Naturalists needed a space to keep and preserve their various collected specimen from across the country. The present Nyayo house was used in 1910. The location was moved several times as the number of specimen and people interested to preserve their specimens increased. In 1929, the Colonial Government set aside land around Museum Hill. This marked the establishment of the Nairobi National Museum which was known as Coryndon Museum up until Kenya’s independence in 1963. The attractions include the art gallery, temporary exhibitions, botanical gardens and nature trail nature and the Snake Park.
Entry fee: Nairobi Museum- Adults Ksh 200, Child below 15 years Ksh 100; Snake Park – Adults Ksh 200, Child below 15 years Ksh 100; Combined tickets Adult Ksh 300, Child below 15 years Ksh 150.
If trees are your forte, then this is the place to be. Only 3km from the CBD, it contains over 350 tree species both indigenous and exotic as well as vervet and Sykes monkeys and birds. The trees are labeled per species. During the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway, timber was needed to build the railway tracks. This resulted in establishing an area where trees would be planted with the aim of harvesting after recognizing indigenous trees could not sustain the construction phase due to their slow growth rate. The arboretum offered a space where the contractors would plant numerous species of exotic trees and determine the best quality to be further planted in tree plantations and used for building and construction. It’s one place where you will find the stunning Hartlaub’s and Purple Crested Turaco.
Entry fee: Ksh 50 Adult and Ksh 20 for those under 18. Ksh 1000 when doing video and photography shoots.
A peaceful and beautiful ecologically diverse place lies just 10 minutes’ drive from the CBD between Forest Road (Wangari Maathai Road) and Limuru Road. The main entrance is located along Limuru Road, opposite Aga Khan Hospital, adjacent to the Hawkers’ Market. There are close to 100 species of birds, insects, plants, and mammals. A pollinator garden and fish ponds are located in the park. You can experience a touch of history at the veteran cemeteries and a memorial of Kenya’s second vice president Joseph Murumbi where you can appreciate artistic sculptures.
Entry fee: Free.
This is a green space within the CBD. It was founded by A.M. Jeevanjee, an Asian-born entrepreneur in Kenya and was donated to the residents of Nairobi in 1906. Looking for a place to enjoy nature during lunch break or in the evening, this is a place to consider.
Entry fee: Free.
At the heart of the CBD is a green space which has stood the test of time. Wangari Maathai in 1989, together with many who agreed with her standing against the construction of the 60-storey Kenya Times Media Trust business complex, held a protest at the park, attempting to stop the proposed development.
The area has expansive lawns, shade trees, and well-tended gardens. It’s a good place to learn about trees as well as explore and identify town birds.
Entry fee: Free.
Looking for a green space surrounded by trees and other wild life in a peaceful area with water sources? You need not look any further outside Nairobi county boundaries as you can experience this at Karura Forest. Nairobi seems to be endowed with history in every aspect as the forest also encompasses Mau Mau caves. The forest can be approached via either Kiambu Road or Limuru Road.
Wildlife found in the forest include Monkey species such as Colobus Monkey, Sykes Monkey and Vervet Monkey, bush baby, bushbuck, bush pig, porcupine, duiker, genet, dik dik, African civet and East African epauletted fruit bat.
The forest is also endowed with close to 200 bird species of more significant, the African Crowned Eagle. The tree species are diverse and mostly indigenous.
Entry Fee: Citizen Adult Ksh 100 and Child 3 – 12 years Ksh 50. Use of the Picnic grounds (KFEET, Amani, and Ruaka) Adult Ksh 150 adults and Child Ksh100.
All these six places have a hiSTORY to tell. Make a visit and learn something new.