Karura Forest Reserve is located in the northern part of Nairobi city. At 1,041 hectares, it is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world. The forest contains nearly all the 605 species of wildlife found in Nairobi including three types of antelope. It is managed by Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Wildlife in Karura Forest
Mammals: include Harvey’s Duiker, Grimm’s Duiker, Bushbucks, Bush pigs, Genet Cats, Civets, Bush babies, Porcupines, Syke’s Monkeys, Ground Squirrel, Hares and the Epauletted-bat.
Reptiles: Include pythons, green snakes and monitor lizards.
Birds: The forest hosts around 200 species of birds including Ayres Hawk-eagle, the African Crowned Eagle, the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Narina Trogon, Owls, Crested Cranes, Sparrows, Doves, Weavers and Vultures.
Butterflies: Include the African Queen and Desmond’s Green Banded Swallowtail.
Plants in Karura Forest
Plantations: Cover 632 hectares. Species found include Araucaria cunninghamii, Eucalyptus saligna, E. globula, Grevillea robusta, Cupressus torulosa and Cupressus lusitanica.
Indigenous trees: Cover 260 hectares. Species include Olea europeae subsp. auspidata, Croton megalocarpus, Warburgia ugandensis (Muthiga), Brachyleana huillensis (Muhugu), Uvaridendron anisatum, Markhamia lutea, Vepris nobilis, Juniperus procera (Cedar), Craebean brownii, Newtonia buchananii, Salvadora persica, Ficus thonningii, Trichilia emetica, Calondendrum capense and Dombeya goetzenii.
Shrubs: Include Strychnos henningsii (Muteta), Erythrococca bongensis (Muharangware), Vangueria madagascariensis (Mubiro), Rhamnus prinoides (Mukarakinga), Caesalpinia volkensii (Mubuthi), Solanum incanum (Mutongu), Elaeodendron buchananii (Mutanga) and Rhus natalensis (Muthigio).
Other plants: There are groves of Arudinaria alpina, Kenya’s native bamboo species along the riparian belts of Gitathuro and Ruaka rivers; exotic giant bamboo Dendrocalamus giganteus along Karura river near the tree nursery, and; small wetlands that are important habitats for birds.
Other areas of special interest Karura Forest
Other important attractions that visitors to Karura Forest enjoy are:
• Mau Mau caves
• Scenic waterfalls and rivers
• Picnic sites
• Marked walking trails
• Small wetlands that are habitats for birds
• The incinerator formerly used by Central Bank of Kenya to burn old currency notes
• The area about which the late Professor Wangari Maathai carried out a campaign against illegal acquisition of forest land.
In Karura Forest, one can undertake the following activities:
• Forest walks
• Forest drives
• Bird watching
• Butterfly watching
Getting there & getting around
By private transport: The main entrance to Karura Forest is on the Limuru Road just after the Belgian Embassy. However, one can also use either the KFS main gate which is off Kiambu road and opposite CID Headquaters, or the Old Kiambu Gate which is on Old Kiambu road.
By public transport: Matatu (public service vehicle) numbers 11B, 106, 107, 108, 114 or 116 from Nairobi City Centre will get you to the main entrance on Limuru Road. To use the KFS main gate on Kiambu road, take matatu numbers 100 or 120.
Taxi hire from the city centre costs approximately Ksh 1,000.
One can easily get around Karura Forest using the existing network of driving tracks and walking trails. Most sections of the forest are accessible by saloon cars.
Entry tickets can be purchased at the point of entry between 6:00 am and 5:00 pm. For the current entry fees, contact the numbers at the end of this page.
What to wear and carry
Comfortable walking shoes or trainers, drinking water, binoculars, camera and wildlife books especially for birds and butterflies.
There are two wet seasons: April-June (long rains) and October-December (short rains). In between, days are sunny and dry except for July and August which is usually cool and cloudy. The average annual rainfall in Karura is 930 mm.
Important things to remember when visiting Karura forest:
• Enjoy yourself; in addition to seeing, pause and listen regularly.
• Stop to allow wildlife to move off the tracks before you pass.
• Do not feed wild animals.
• Do not start fires in the forest.
• Do not take away animals, animal products, plants or plant parts.
• Do not mark or deface tree stems, stones and other features.
• Avoid unnecessary noise as it disturbs both wildlife and other visitors. Do not exceed 40kph when driving in the forest.
• Take all the litter that you brought away with you.
• Keep to the designated tracks and paths when walking and always be sure of where you are headed to or coming from as orientation in forests can be difficult.
Karura Forest photo gallery
For reservations and more information, contact:
Karura Forest Reserve
P.O. Box 30513 – 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel (mobile phones): +254 (0) 727 818 960
Tel: +254 20 2020285; 3754904/5/6