A lovely little surprise in the middle of the city, Karura Forest is a gem of Nairobi. With over 50 kilometers of walking, biking, and nature trails, this is one of the best places to visit for a taste of nature while still staying in the city.
Karura Forest is the type of place you keep going back to time and again. Between my two trips to Kenya, I’ve visited there at least four times. There are so many walking trails, biking options, benches to take a rest, picnic areas, and even a quaint café.
Walking Karura Forest
There are multiple different walking, running, and biking routes in Karura Forest, most of them clearly written on different signs throughout the park. If entering with a car, just a short walk from the parking lot, past the River Cafe, you’ll come to the entrance to the trails. All throughout the trails, you’re given the option to walk towards multiple different tourist attractions.
There are caves where the Mau Mau (freedom fighters against the colonial power) hid from the colonial troops, a Butterfly Lake, waterfalls, and more. Most of the paths are lined with many many trees which are often spattered with monkeys or small deer. Each time that I visited there were also countless exotic butterflies everywhere, usually bright blue, but also yellow and white.
The paths are dirt, but clean and well kept. There are benches all throughout the multiple different trails, so there’s always a place to rest. In total there are over 50 kilometers of trails throughout the forest!
Waterfalls at Karura Forest
About 3-4 kilometers from the trail entrance, you can walk to one of the most famous attractions- the orange waterfall. Technically the waterfall is only orange during the rainy season where Kenya’s dark red soil dyes it a vibrant orange. However, I visited during the rainy AND dry seasons and it was a bright orange both times. Personally I think its beautiful and unique. I’ve never seen an orange waterfall before!
In contrast with the dark, almost black soil, and the bright green trees, it was truly stunning. It reminded me of orange sherbet, pools and flowing streams of orange sherbet!
River Cafe at Karura
One of my absolute favorite places in Nairobi and one of my favorite cafes ever is the River Cafe at Karura Forest. Not only is the food quite tasty (although a bit expensive), but the environment is unmatched. The cafe is built right in the middle of the forest and your view while dining is amazing. It’s the perfect spot to read a book, relax after exercising. or enjoy a coffee.
- Cost– As in just about every place it Kenya, there is a fee to enter. Per Kenyan tradition, there are also different fees for citizens, residents, and tourists (the tourist fee being the highest of course). The tourist fee is 600Ksh (~$6) per person. The resident fee is 200KSh (~2) and the citizen fee is 100Ksh (~$1). There are also additional fees for entrance with a car, usage of the picnic areas, bike rentals, and more. Here is a list of costs and fees for different activities at Karura.
- How to Get There – Karura is pretty easy to get to from most areas of Nairobi. If you are staying in the more international area, where most of the embassies and the UN are located, it is just a few minutes drive away. Uber is the easiest way to get around Nairobi and the driver can take you right to the entrance.
- Muddy-Kenya, especially Nairobi, receives a lot of rainfall. This means that the dirt paths at Karura are almost always muddy. Although you can walk on the dirt path just with sandals, sneakers or boots may be best, especially after lots of rain.
- Safety– Karura Forest is a very safe area. Almost 15 years ago, it was known to be a very unsafe area, but after amazing initiatives it is now one of the safest areas of Nairobi. There is an electric fence around the forest to ensure only those permitted to enter are within. The only wild animals you’ll likely see will be monkeys, so also no need to be concerned in regards to wild animals.
- Hours– Karura Forest is open from 6:00-18:00 every day of the week.
For more information or tips and tricks for visiting Kenya, check out our Kenya page!
Have any questions or concerns about traveling to Kenya? Check out our: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TRAVEL IN KENYA | TIPS & TRICKS FOR FIRST TIME TRAVELERS
Looking for more amazing things to do in Nairobi? TOP 15 THINGS TO DO IN NAIROBI, KENYA | HUB OF EAST AFRICA
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters
100 Country TrekSeptember 30, 2020 at 6:19 pm
Are you there now ? Love to return when things get back to the norm.
Colorful SistersSeptember 30, 2020 at 7:09 pm
Yes I’m in kenya now visiting my boyfriend who works here 😊 it’s open for tourism if you have a negative covid test!
100 Country TrekSeptember 30, 2020 at 7:51 pm
DivyaOctober 4, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Wow.. Thank you for showing us a glimpse of Nairobi❤️
Colorful SistersOctober 4, 2020 at 3:35 pm
so happy you enjoyed the content 🙂
cornfedcontessaOctober 4, 2020 at 3:19 pm
Thanks for the follow!
Soni Cool😎October 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm
What a post dear… Marvellous clicks…❤️
Colorful SistersOctober 5, 2020 at 6:55 am
Thank you so much! It’s such a fun, peaceful place to explore!
Angela F. ClaugherOctober 5, 2020 at 6:15 am
This is so beautiful! I really hope I can visit one day. Your blog is amazing! ⚘
Colorful SistersOctober 5, 2020 at 6:45 am
Thank you so much Angela, let us know how it is after you go 🙂
equinoxio21October 7, 2020 at 9:24 pm
Asante sana. Enjoy Kenya. (I lived there part of my childhood. A magical place. Kwaheri sassa.
Colorful SistersOctober 8, 2020 at 10:03 am
Wow so amazing! Where did you live in Kenya? I’ve been lucky enough to travel around fairly extensively here! Asante sana 🙂
equinoxio21October 8, 2020 at 11:39 pm
We lived in Nairobi for 3 years in the late 60’s. Right after Independence. Of course we traveled extensively in Kenya, and all of East Africa. it is one the most beautiful places on earth. Like I said, enjoy every minute of it. Cheers
Colorful SistersOctober 9, 2020 at 7:24 am
So fun! It really is an amazing place. Enjoyed most of my travels here! I haven’t been to other areas in East Africa… But maybe next trip!
equinoxio21October 9, 2020 at 9:26 pm
Tanzania is really next door. A trip to Serengeti is just a few hours’d rove from Nairobi. And well worth it.
Colorful SistersOctober 9, 2020 at 9:28 pm
Yesss my boyfriend and I wanted to take a trip there on the weekend but because of covid it’s unfortunately not so simple anymore 😭
equinoxio21October 9, 2020 at 9:39 pm
Oh. Mbaya sana. 😉 Africa seems to have “handled” the covid situation well, and I imagine the economy is so dependent on tourism that it must have taken a serious blow. But then crossing borders must hard right now. Can you go to Amboseli or Tsavo without major hassle?
Colorful SistersOctober 10, 2020 at 7:29 pm
Yesss it is a bummer but within the country travel is open and easy! We managed to travel to Tigoni and Laikipia county recently. Tsavo is a bit farther but maybe if we have some extra time! I’ve only ever passed through on the train from Mombassa!
equinoxio21October 11, 2020 at 5:39 pm
I didn’t know Tigoni. I assume Laikipia is the Aberdares of Mount Kenya? Nakuru or lake Hannington (they call it differently now) are not far. And Tsavo is only a few hours drive.
The train is still there? And still as crazy? Quite an experience… Cheers.
Colorful SistersOctober 11, 2020 at 6:12 pm
Tigoni is just outside of nairobi. Around 30 minutes drive and it’s known for tea plantations. Very beautiful region. And yes Nakuru and Naivasha aren’t too far.. Have already visited!
There is a new train built a few years back that’s only about 5 hours to Mombassa…not crazy at all anymore!
equinoxio21October 11, 2020 at 11:03 pm
‘Looked up the map for Tigoni. Close by indeed.
A new train? Well, we once took the old train for the night. Quite a journey. The restaurant car had mismatched cuttlery, silver forks and knives bearing HM’s arms mixec with Korean ware. I think the travellers stole the spoons. We had a compartment for ourselves, but people were sleeping in the corridors… And the train stopped a few times because elephants were blocking the way. 😉
Colorful SistersOctober 12, 2020 at 6:40 am
Wow that really sounds like quite the experience!!! Quite the adventure. Now it’s just a pretty average train hahaha except that you pass through Tsave so often can see elephants and giraffes and zebras, but they don’t interfere with the tracks!
Bulldog BenOctober 11, 2020 at 7:52 pm
I enjoyed this write up. Although I know it’s unlikely I’d ever have an opportunity to visit Karura, your descriptions and photos just might be the next-best thing. Happy to be following now.
Colorful SistersOctober 12, 2020 at 6:37 am
I’m happy you enjoyed!! And you never know, maybe one day you’ll be able to visit!!
homefreehippiesOctober 20, 2020 at 3:32 am
Wow! Looks lovely. Would love to visit one day.
Colorful SistersOctober 20, 2020 at 3:38 pm
I hope you can! It’s a lovely place 🙂 Especially the cafe!
mountaincowardNovember 4, 2020 at 10:17 pm
I’m blown-away by the sheer orangeness of that waterfall – never seen anything like it – totally incredible. I’d love to see that one day. I’ve been to Kenya once to do Mount Kenya and loved the place and the people. Not sure whether I’ll ever make it back there though as there are just so many places to see!
Colorful SistersNovember 5, 2020 at 12:56 am
Yesss! It’s truly incredible. The sad thing is that most of the Kenyans I spoke to thought it was ugly because it’s orange due to the earth and the rains. I was meanwhile in awe!! One of the most unique things I’ve ever seen.
Colorful SistersNovember 5, 2020 at 12:56 am
And I understand not returning to the same place! I very rarely do…I usually prefer to explore something new 🙂
mountaincowardNovember 5, 2020 at 10:12 pm
The only country I’ve repeatedly returned to was Jordan – I had a bit of a ‘campaign’ there – I’d see something interesting on one visit and then want to go and see more of it. I’d then see something else interesting and so on. I still only ended up visiting 3 times though. I’d love to go back one day – amazing and beautiful country (I love deserts).
Colorful SistersNovember 5, 2020 at 10:22 pm
I absolutely love the desert too!! Wadi rum and Petra were incredible. Since it’s right next to israel I do have other areas of Jordan on my list to visit again specifically Amman and some of the wadis surrounding 😊
mountaincowardNovember 9, 2020 at 9:45 pm
I liked Amman (despite not generally liking cities) but wasn’t as keen on Aqaba. I loved all the wadis – there are some really great wadis in Jordan. I didn’t do any of the famous/exciting ones but did explore a lot down very many minor wadis out the back of Petra.
I visited Israel too many years ago – another beautiful country but Jordan seems to be my favourite so far.
Colorful SistersNovember 10, 2020 at 12:45 am
Aqaba does have some nice water activities and I had one of my best meals ever there, but the city itself doesn’t offer much. Hope to make it to Amman one day!v
mountaincowardNovember 11, 2020 at 9:24 pm
I was only there for the day to be honest. Amman is pretty cosmopolitan and very friendly. It’s also pretty clean and there’s some great ruins etc. to see
Colorful SistersNovember 5, 2020 at 10:22 pm
What was your favorite place in Jordan?
mountaincowardNovember 9, 2020 at 9:43 pm
The Wadi Rum desert. Three colours of sand, lots of sandstone inselbergs (some easy to get to the top of, some not so easy) and friendly Bedouins 🙂
Colorful SistersNovember 10, 2020 at 12:44 am
Yess Wadi Rum was truly incredible. We were lucky enough to visit on a full moon and it was so stunning!
mountaincowardNovember 11, 2020 at 9:24 pm
Did you sleep out under the stars without a tent? I always insist on that. I also try to insist on only camels to carry the luggage and that I walk rather than damaging the desert with vehicles.
Rhoda WakariaNovember 7, 2020 at 8:34 am
This is very detailed and accurate. New favorite blog. 😊
BonnieReadsAndWritesNovember 13, 2020 at 9:47 am
Gorgeous pictures. That’s a road I’d like to travel on.
Colorful SistersNovember 13, 2020 at 11:57 pm
The perfect road to travel 🙂
quiallNovember 13, 2020 at 1:43 pm
What beautiful pictures! Thank you for following my blog.
Colorful SistersNovember 13, 2020 at 11:54 pm
Thank you as well!
Paul HandoverNovember 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm
Came here to leave my thanks for your recent decision to follow Learning from Dogs. Thank you!
11 Amazing Things to Do on Your Trip to Kenya - Not Just a SafariNovember 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm
[…] and be kissed by giraffes, a visit to the Elephant Orphanage, a stunning forest within the city (Karura forest), Nairobi’s fancy side, and so so so much […]
Gypsy BevNovember 25, 2020 at 2:08 am
What a beautiful countryside. I had never seen an orange waterfall before. Interesting how the soil colors the water. Not only is the countryside beautiful but so are the colorful sisters! Look forward to more of your adventures.
Colorful SistersNovember 25, 2020 at 1:18 pm
It is truly amazing. I had never seen an orange waterfall before either, I was so amazed! And thank you so much!!! So sweet of you 🙂
craig lockNovember 30, 2020 at 3:18 pm
Hi Danielle and Brooke
Thanks for amother follow(s) and/or like(s)
All the best with your blog
Best wishes from the First City to see the light
purplestoneblogDecember 3, 2020 at 10:43 pm
love those orange falls! thanks. great article.
Colorful SistersDecember 4, 2020 at 3:25 pm
They’re so amazing!!! Thank you 🙂
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[…] View the full post here: KARURA FOREST – NATURE TRAILS, ORANGE WATERFALLS, AND CAFE | NAIROBI, KENYA […]
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