Kenyans and overseas tourists will soon be able to visit attractions within Karura Forest and enjoy the beauty of this unspoiled natural resource when it is opened to the public on February 26 2011 ahead of a planned official inauguration by President Mwai Kibaki. Karura Forest occupies more than 1,000 HA – making it the largest of three main gazetted forests in Nairobi.
The others are Ngong and Ololua Forest. Karura Forest is located north of central Nairobi and is bordered by the suburbs of Muthaiga, Gigiri, Runda, Ridgeways, Mathare North, Highridge and Spring Valley.
The western part of the forest is also known as Sigiria Forest. The area north of central Nairobi forms a drainage basin and was once heavily forested, but exists today only as patches like Karura Forest and City Park. The forest is cut by Thigirie, Getathuru, Rui Ruaka and Karura Rivers, all tributaries of the Nairobi River. Features in the forest include a waterfall, bamboo forest, marshland, Mau Mau caves and an old church.
The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has partnered with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) – under whose docket Karura Forest falls – to provide access road signage and branding of the forest ahead of the official opening.
As a result, the forest will also be marketed locally and internationally as part of the Nairobi tourism circuit which includes the Nairobi National Park and Orphanage, the Nairobi National Museum, the Railway Museum, the Daphne Sheldrick Centre among others.
Wildlife in the forest includes Monkey species, bush baby, bushbuck, bushpig, porcupine, duiker, genet, dik-dik, African civet and epauletted bat Karura. There are several nature trails created within the forest. The first trail, which is four kilometres long and connects Limuru Road with Old Kiambu Road, was opened in May 2009.
There are caves within the forest believed to have been hideouts for the Mau Mau. There are also some scenic waterfalls and picnic sites. An electric fence is being built around the forest for security reasons.
The Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust (K-FEET) was formed in 2010 and launched by the minister of Forestry Noah Wekesa. It will manage an environmental education centre located in Karura Forest The Nairobi northern bypass road, under construction since 2009, will pass through a wetland that is said to feed Karura Forest, thus posing a threat to the forest. There is a camping site in the forest.
How To Get There
By Private Car
The main entrance to Karura Forest is on Limuru Road just after the Belgian Embassy.
By Public Transport
Matatu (from Nairobi city centre to Belgian Embassy on Limuru Road): 11B, 106, 107, 108, 114 and 116.
Matatu (from Nairobi city centre to CID Headquarters on Kiambu Road): 100.
Taxi (from the centre of Nairobi).