Two things about me that are certain from the heading above. I have stayed most part of my life in Nairobi and I love the true feeling of nature. Nairobi is known as one of the many safari destinations in Kenya but the most interesting thing is that most people who live here are not safari enthusiast but prefer night outs and parties or beach holidays.
This makes a nature lover feel left out since our kind of hangouts involve bonding in the natural habitats and taking in all that nature has to offer. But all is not lost, there are so many hidden places to visit while in Nairobi.
One thing why I love nature is that you can visit the same place over and over at different times in a year and have different experiences depending on the weather and season of the year. I can never have enough of what Nairobi has in store, even on lazy days when I don’t feel like doing anything. Nature just energizes me, which ever time of day.
The main problem with Nairobi is the traffic that builds up at different times of the day, so to avoid this you need to plan your day well. Good thing is that nature lovers are early people and know how to avoid such hustle as calmness is our thing. Check out some of my main activities in Nairobi, how I bond with nature.
Early morning jog at the Nairobi Arboretum
Nairobi Arboretum is a small forest in the heart of Nairobi, 3km from the City Centre bordering the State House. It is managed by Kenya Forest Service and was established in 1907 as a site for exotic tree species trial.
Nothing feels more refreshing like a morning run among long trees towering above, making the sky invisible while the many bird species mock you in their never ending choruses. As the day events begins, you can hear the busy Nairobi coming to life from a distance.
The park open at 6 a.m to quite a number of joggers who prefer an early morning run before they start their day. This can be achieved as a group or individually with an entrance fee of $1 per person. Point to note is entrance fee can only be paid through the mobile transaction common in Kenya known as Mpesa.
One hour visit to the Elephant Orphanage
On days when I don’t feel like going for a jog but still want to have a feel of nature, in particular the wild animals. The one place that is always a joy to visit is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi Orphanage.
They only accept visitors between 11.00am to 12.00pm at $5 per person. The one hour is so fulfilling watching the baby elephants feed or have a mud bath in the very loving care of their keepers. This can make you go back over and over again.
A kiss from a Rothschild Giraffe
We have the giraffe center, home to the endangered Rothschild giraffe in the southern end of Nairobi. The place unlike the elephant orphanage is open all day to the public and sees quite a number of visitors flock in each day for some time with the tall mammal.
The activities include feeding the giraffes with some food pellets while taking some memorable photo moments, you can go to the extent of letting the giraffe pick the food pellet from their mouth receiving that once in a lifetime kiss.
They also provide a lot of information and education about conservation and saving of endangered wildlife species on the part they play in improving our habitat. If you want to dine while watching the giraffe roam freely through the fields then the Giraffe Manor is the place for you.
A safari walk with a view of wildlife
Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters, the government body that handles Kenya’s wildlife has build a raised wooden boardwalk overlooking the Nairobi National Park. This gives visitors a chance to see what to expect when they go on safari to the game parks in the country.
You also get to view some wild animals as well as the many birds species visible from the platform. This is an ideal place for an afternoon relaxation while taking a walk and watching wildlife from a distance.
If you want to see more wildlife, we have the Nairobi animal orphanage next to the safari walk which hosts animals rescued from various parks either injured or orphaned while in the wild. You can also have a meal in one of the hotels in the vicinity, Ranger Restaurant.
A mini hike and picnic at Oloolua Narure Trail
In the heart of Karen, a very quiet neighborhood lies a beautiful nature trail called Olooloa Nature Trail. This is home to the Institute of Primate Research under the National Museum of Kenya. This is an indigenous forest with a trail that runs down through a river with a mini water fall.
The place is ideal for short hikes while learning more about the indigenous trees and bird watching. You can also jog, walk the dog or have a picnic of the very well-established picnic area complete with benches, drop toilets and trash bins. However, it is not advisable to walk alone through the trail as the place is normally isolated especially on weekdays.
A day full of activities at Karura Forest.
At the Northern end of Nairobi lies Karura Forest, one of the largest gazetted forest in an urban area. It has over 50km long trail making it more ideal for many nature related activities.
You can go for long runs(10km or 20km), walks or take a bike ride through the forest trail. There are also ideal places in the forest for some fitness workout including yoga, aerobics and stretches. It also has a wide area for picnics at different spots depending on which gate you approach it from.
There are a number of bird species to observe and other small wild animals though bit hard to sight. We also have The River Cafe in the heart of the forest that offers awesome brunch, lunch and dinner as you enjoy the fresh air and listen to the birds singing through the air.
A bonus for nature lovers
If you live in Nairobi and you are a true nature lover, you can consider joining Nature Kenya, a group that really cares about nature and organizes events, trips and nature activities for its members countrywide. They also have bird watching session every Wednesday morning in Nairobi and it’s environs and study different bird species that they site while on the bird watching expeditions.