This blog is about an amazing park right in the heart of Nairobi City. It is written by the Friends of Nairobi City Park, a project of Nature Kenya (the East African Natural History Society).
City Park consists of a mixture of indigenous forest and planted gardens. It is located off Limuru Rd between Parklands and Muthaiga, lessthan 10 minutes from the Central Business District of Nairobi. The park is one of the oldest in the city, having been established in the 1930’s. There are several paths through the forest and gardens, which radiate from a large central grass area with a bandstand. In addition to the precious patch of natural forest, there are several sites of national and historical importance within the park.
The park is managed by the City Council of Nairobi and has been gazetted as a National Monument by the National Museums of Kenya. The Friends of City Park are a voluntary group of residents that work to ensure the perpetuity of the park and mobilise resources to support the park management.
Watch out for the mischievous Sykes Monkeys! These are the true ‘owners’ of the park. They forage in family groups and are gentle creatures. Please don’t tease or feed them. There are also Vervet Monkeys and Baboons, who visit here from the nearby Karura Forest. Suni, Bush Duiker and bush and ground squirrels live in the forest alongside nocturnal white-toothed shrews and fruit bats.
Birds: One of the good forest-birding spots within easy access in Nairobi, the park’s forest is home to noisy Silvery-cheeked Hornbills who feast in the fig trees, and even louder Hadada Ibis who feed along the streams. The spectacular Narina Trogon hides in the deepest parts of the forest. Sunbirds, finches and weavers are common around the flowers and gardens. Keep an eye out too for the swift African Goshawk and Little Sparrowhawk, two of the birds of prey living in the forest.
The upland forest of City Park is of the dry, evergreen type and represents the kind of habitat that once covered most of this part of Nairobi. The forest is home to troops of Sykes Monkeys, Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and hundreds of beautiful butterflies. This forest is the most precious natural resource currently protected in City Park and a true treasure for the people of Nairobi.
There are over 60 different kinds of trees in the park. Some of the older indigenous trees are regularly used as a source of seed for the tree nurseries, making them the parents of many thousands of trees planted elsewhere in Kenya! Particularly striking are the Cape Chestnuts, which flower twice a year, and the large spreading figs and ancient lianas that drape themselves through the forest. A very rare orchid, found nowhere else in the world, Bonatea tentaculifera, has been recorded from City Park.
The exotic planted trees and flowering plants are no less spectacular. The climbing bougainvillea that drape over trees and flower with spectacular flourish, and a Jacaranda tree with unusual white flowers, are two specialities of this park.
Hundreds of butterflies can be seen after the rains begin. There are about 115 species recorded to date. Watch for large colourful swallowtails, including the Regal Swallowtail, which is the largest butterfly in Kenya, as well as the Noble Swallowtail, Citrus Swallowtail, Green-banded Swallowtail and Mocker Swallowtail. Emperor Butterflies or Charaxes, can often be seen feeding at fallen figs. City Park is one of the best places for close-up views of harmless Oxhead spiders (also called Spiny-backed Orb-weavers or Gasteracantha falcicornis), who build their complex orb webs between the trees.
One of Kenya’s most striking chameleons, the Kikuyu Three-horned Chameleon is common in the forest. This is a species endemic to East Africa. The Blue-headed Tree Agama lizard can often be spotted clambering up trunks and walls. The colourful males will watch you and nod their heads! Frogs are common along the river and streams, including Puddle Frogs, Squeakers, Reed Frogs and River Frogs.
City Park is also home to some very important Historical Sites; The freedom fighter and human-rights activist, Pio Gama Pinto, is buried here, as is Kenya’s second Vice-President, Joseph Murumbi. The bandstand was the site of many historical performances including a visit by the British Queen Mother. There are several historical sites in the park, including the Goan, Jewish and World War I memorial cemeteries.
Getting there is soooooo easy!!!
Bus Take public service vehicles 11 from Odeon or 106 from the Nairobi Fire Station, alight on Limuru Rd. before the Hawker’s Market, across from the Aga Khan Hospital. This is the main entrance to the park.
Car From Limuru Road the main entrance leads down to the tree nursery and park offices. Parking is available opposite the tree nurseries and next to the Bowling Green Restaurant. We recommend leaving your car in the care of one of the guards.
Or get out and just walk from anywhere near Westlands or Parklands
Things to do in City Park
Walks and picnics – You can walk freely along the paths through the gardens and forest, there are benches to rest on and plenty of places for a picnic. But do exercise caution! Please go in the company of at least one other person and take care not to carry valuables, don’t enter at night.
Plant a tree!! City Park has an impressive tree nursery and rare plant collection. Some of the seedlings are available for purchase and the rare plant collection includes some stunning bromeliads and other ornamental species. Ask at the plant nursery office for details.
The famous maze or labyrinth is located in the southeastern corner of the park, this planted hedgerow maze is currently being restored. Don’t get lost!
Join Us! Help Save City Park!
We need your help. Please join the Friends of City Park, a project of Nature Kenya – the East Africa Natural History Society. We have been actively defending the park for many years and are currently developing a plan to restore the park and protect the forest. Contact us at (20) 374-6090 or 374-9957 or 374-9986 or at P. O. Box 44486 GPO 00100 Nairobi.
To join the friends of City Park just send an email to John Muturi firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tell us what you think of Nairobi City Park by leaving a comment or sending us an email email@example.com