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!
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters