This is the first national park to be gazetted in Kenya and it is situated almost 7 kilometers south from the centre of Kenya’s capital city (Nairobi) and definitely it is named so because of its location in the city.
The park covers an area of 117.21 square kilometers and is small in comparison to most of Africa’s national parks its altitude ranging between 1,533 and 1,760 meters (5,030ft and 5,774 ft respectively).
It has a dry climate throughout the year and it is the only protected part of the Athi-Kapiti ecosystem, making up less than 10% of this ecosystem.
The park has a diverse range of habitats and species of which there is an electric fencing around the park’s northern, eastern, and western boundaries to separate the Park’s wildlife from the metropolis.
Its southern boundary is formed by the Mbagathi River of which it is not fenced and is open to the Athi-Kapiti plains and the Kitengela Conservation Area which is located immediately south of the park. There is considerable movement of large ungulate species across the unfenced (southern) boundary.
The fence that separates the park from the city runs along a highway leaving Kenyatta international airport (Kenya’s airport). The park is the only natural safari park that has a city scape background that can be seen from almost any part of the park.
Nairobi national park resides a large and varied wildlife population and though rhinos are about getting extinct, the Park is one of the most successful places in conserving rhinos.
The park boosts an open grass plain with scattered acacia bushes and the western uplands of the park consists of a highland dry forest with stands of Olea africana, Croton dichogamus, Brachylaena hutchinsii, and Calodendrum.
There are also scattered yellow-barked Acacia xanthophloea and there is a riverine forest along the permanent river in the south of the park. There are areas of broken bush and deep rocky valleys and gorges within the park.
The species in the valleys are predominantly Acacia and Euphorbia candelabrum. Other tree species include Apodytes dimidiata, Canthium schimperiana, Elaeodendron buchananii, Ficus eriocarpa, Aspilia mossambicensis, Rhus natalensis, and Newtonia species.
The park has a large and diverse wildlife and the most popular species include; Cape buffalos, African leopards, hippos, African lions, baboons, impalas, cheetahs, waterbucks, eastern black rhino, gazelles, Masai giraffes, elands, Grant’s zebra, Coke’s hartebeests and over 500 bird species including; vultures and ostriches.
Herbivores including wildebeests and zebras use the Kitengela conservation area and migration corridor to the south of the park to reach the Athi-Kapiti plains. They disperse over the plains in the wet season and return to the park in the dry season.
The concentration of wildlife in the park is greatest in the dry season when areas outside the park have dried up. Small dams constructed along the Mbagathi River provide the park more water resources than these outside areas.
They attract water dependent herbivores during the dry season such as crocodiles and hippos. The park is the northern limit for wildlife migrations in the dry season. Dams have created a man-made habitat for birds and various aquatic species.
‘’David Sheldrick Trust’’ runs a sanctuary in the park that hand-rears orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves and then later releases them back into secure sanctuaries. Orphaned and sick animals are brought to the sanctuary from all over Kenya.
The sanctuary in the Park was opened in 1963 and it is located close to the park’s main entrance. The sanctuary in the Park was created by Daphne Sheldrick after the death of her husband David Sheldrick who was an anti-poaching warden of Tsavo National Park.
Therefore, the Park is one of Kenya’s most successful rhino sanctuaries and it is still one of only a few parks where visitors can be certain of seeing a black rhino in its natural habitat.
Best accommodations for the Park include; Ololo safari lodge, Hotel, Troy, Nyati hill cottages, Osoita lodge, Karen Country lodge and conference centre, Aardvark lodge Mara, Decasa hotel and many others.