A section of Uhuru Park. It is a popular green space in Nairobi. [Photo/Amka Kenya]

Nairobi is fast becoming a concrete jungle with green spaces disappearing at an alarming rate as they give way to construction sites.

While this is a development phase, the aftermath may be that Nairobi will lose its ‘Green City In The Sun’ moniker as the greenery shrinks.

Most conservation efforts have been dedicated to ensuring that Nairobi’s green spaces are preserved. The late Prof Wangari Maathai is known for her battles in fighting grabbing of public land. The victories came at a great cost to her physically, emotionally and financially.

The iron lady’s struggles against corrupt governments especially the President Daniel Moi regime were crowned when she became the Nobel laureate in 2004 due to her efforts.

Due to her resilience, Kenyans can enjoy the free spaces that she liberated with the best known being Uhuru Park and Karura Forest.

Nairobi’s best green Spaces to visit

  • Uhuru Park

This park is located adjacent to the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) and Kenyans can confidently say that it was Prof Maathai’s best crown for her struggles.

When former President Moi reigned with an iron fist, the dictator had to give in after Prof Maathai led the Green Belt Movement and other followers in a protest against the construction of a 60-storey business complex in 1989.

Opened in 1969, the recreational park attracts Kenyans from all walks of life throughout the week. It is also used for hosting different events and recreational activities.

With a variety of trees which are not dense, Uhuru Park is one of the places where you can help your lungs breathe easy if you have a few minutes to spare from the city’s polluted CBD.

  • City Park

This park is nestled between Prof Wangari Maathai road formerly Forest Road and Limuru Road. The park is within Parklands and it got its name in 1923.

City Park offers a beautiful variety of plants and it is scenic for nature lovers.

Unfortunately, due to the pollution of rivers Nairobi, the Kibagare stream which flows through the lower part of the park is a stinky mess.

One if its most notable features is that Joseph Murumbi who served as a Vice President in Kenya and human rights activist Pio Gama Pinto are buried here.

There are other graves in the park including those of the Goan, Jewish and World War One Memorial Cemeteries.

City Park is an ideal picnic site with a variety of birds which would enthral birdwatchers. The park which is densely forested has nature walks and a restaurant for those who prefer not to carry their own food.

  • Jeevanjee Gardens

Located in the city centre, Alibhai Mullah Jeevanjee donated the gardens to Nairobi residents in 1906.

The Karachi-born entrepreneur was contracted to build the Kenya-Uganda Railway in 1898. He brought with him his workforce of 350 men.

In addition to donating the land, Jeevanjee also erected Queen Victoria’s statue and also donated benches for use within the 5-acre park and others around the CBD.

While visiting enjoy the flora which includes the Jacaranda tree which would be beautiful when they are in full bloom.

Jeevanjee Park has public toilets and a shop while many other people vending different kinds of snacks are also available.

A cave at Karura Forest. It is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world. www.businesstoday.co.ke
A cave at Karura Forest. It is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world. [Photo/Nairobi Knights]
  • Karura Forest Reserve

Another space to enjoy courtesy of the iconic Wangari Maathai is the Karura Forest Reserve.

Karura is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world covering an area of 1041 hectares. This is a record since the forest is located within a city.

In 2017, the National Land Commission revoked 151 title deeds which were issued illegally leading to the stealing of 2,000 acres of Karura Forest.

Kanu henchmen grabbed the land between 1994 and 1999 with President Moi defending the looting.

This land grabbing triggered the war with Prof Wangari Maathai and it was a posthumous honour for her with the latest recovery.

Karura became a forest reserve in 1932 after the colonial government set it aside as a fuelwood source for the Ugandan railway.

Three-quarters of the forest boasts having exotic tree species and it is a paradise for birdwatchers, botanists and entomologists.

There are gems at Karura Forest that only those who visit can get.

At the forest reserve, there is a 20-metre waterfall, caves, a lake covered with waterlilies and cycling tracks among others.

  • Uhuru Gardens

Located along Lang’ata Road and next to the Wilson Airport, northern bypass and the Carnivore Restaurant is Uhuru Gardens.

On December 12, 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was declared Kenya’s first president at the inaugural ceremony conducted at this park.

Uhuru Gardens was declared a National Monument in 1966.

The garden has a recreational park and also hosts several public concerts and other events.

  • Nairobi Arboretum

This 30.4-hectare greenery was established in 1907 and gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1932.

The Nairobi Arboretum is located within the State House area and it has a variety of exotic and indigenous tree species.

It is a birdwatchers paradise with more than 100 resident and migrant bird species. It also has more than 350 indigenous and exotic tree species, numerous vervet and the white-throated (Sykes) monkeys.

Small mammals, a range of insects and reptiles can also be spotted within the forest.

As a family-friendly venue, the Nairobi Arboretum no doubt ranks among the best green spaces within the city.

  • Nairobi Botanical Gardens at Nairobi Museum Grounds

The National Museum of Kenya’s the Nairobi Botanical Garden is another green space that will delight nature lovers.

Different live plant species and their habitats are among its collection of thematic displays.

It also acts as a learning centre on the different indigenous and exotic plant species.

Just a kilometre and a half from the CBD, the Nairobi Botanical Garden offers an ideal photography space.

There are some few birds here and fresh air within the city.

  • John Michuki Memorial Park

The John Michuki Memorial Park is located along Nairobi River from the former Globe Roundabout to Kipande Road.

Named after the late Environment Minister John Michuki, the park was established through private-public partnerships.

Michuki had vowed to reclaim the Nairobi River and make its water clean to use by those who lived along the river.

He, however, died before realising his dream.

The park has designated footpaths, floodlights, public toilets and footbridges.

The August 7th Memorial Park is a green space within the CBD. www.businesstoday.co.ke
The August 7th Memorial Park is a green space within the CBD. [Photo/Hat.net]
  • August 7th Memorial Park

This Memorial park is located where the former US Embassy stood before the August 7, 1998 bomb blast.

Located within the Nairobi CBD, the park hosts the Peace Memorial Museum which details the stories of those who were affected by the bombing.

The park has green, lush, beautiful and serene gardens.

It is a good spot to relax if you have time to spare within the CBD. While there are many other green spaces in the larger Nairobi, these are the spaces that are closest to the CBD and which are easily accessible by public means.


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