“The hidden urban gem”
The Nairobi Arboretum is one of few remaining Nairobi’s Urban Green Spaces. It owes its existence to the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway line. The Arboretum was founded in 1907 by Mr. Batiscombe as a trial plot for new fast growing forestry trees that would supply the high demand of fuel wood for the Kenya-Uganda railway line and in turn save Kenya’s indigenous forests. Most of its trees are therefore exotic and not native to Kenya. It was later gazetted as a national reserve in 1932 by the government of Kenya and is now under the management of the Kenya Forest Service with the help of Friends of Nairobi Arboretum. The Nairobi Arboretum is home to over 350 tree species and over 100 resident and migrant birds among other animal species.
Why it stands out
One of the few well preserved and maintained urban forests. It provides an ideal space for picnics, jogging, walking or just relaxing and unwinding. It is also easily accessible on foot or by car from the city center. Its strategic position means that it is surrounded by numerous five star and four star hotels.
How to get there?
The Nairobi Arboretum is located on the west side of Nairobi in the Kilimani area which is about 3km from the Nairobi city center. It is easily accessible by foot or by car via State House Road or Arboretum Road. On foot cross the Uhuru Highway at the University Way roundabout, walk up state house road (it is a winding road, sort of) until you pass State House Girls to your left. About 50metres past the school, you will see Arboretum Drive. Walk up Arboretum Drive for about 200 meters, and, alas! You will be at Arboretum. It is a long walk, but worth it.
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Opening hours and charges
The Nairobi Arboretum is open from 6am to 6:15pm daily
Entry fee is Ksh.50
Photographers pay an extra Ksh. 1000 which is charged for cameras.
Where to eat.
There are no restaurants within therefore one need to carry with him/her food or water for consumptions. However there some business men and women selling fruits, boiled maize and some few vibandas at the entrance.
Where to stay
As a visitor you can stay in the various hotels within the city. The nearest walking distance hotels include Tune Hotel, Park inn, Nairobi Sankara Hotel and Royal Orchid hotel which are located in the Westlands area of Nairobi.
What to do and see
The Nairobi Arboretum is one of the few places in Nairobi City where you can escape from the urban chaos to access cool fresh air in a relaxing and tranquil environment. Its various walkways and jogging trails that crisscross trees and boarder a river at some point, provide great sites for your morning or evening jog or yoga. For the Yoga lovers, the calmness within the Arboretum with the various bird songs, whistling trees, insects among other small animal sounds give you that feeling of peace and oneness with nature. You could also also choose to have a picnic with your family or friends as you watch the numerous Vervet and Sykes monkeys scamper from tree to tree playfully.
The forest and vegetation cover, wildlife and amenities are well maintained. It is easily accessible with well-maintained roads. No hawkers and the entry rates are fair. Rating 8/10
Vegetation and wildlife are protected from outside encroachment and direct consumption. Litter bins are also strategically placed for waste management.
However, not all bins are labeled, various plastic bottles could be seen in the bushes, over trampling off grass was evident in some areas and no efforts in protecting the river from surface runoff pollution. Needs some visitor management strategy. Rating 5/10
Overall score: 6.5/10
The Nairobi Arboretum is definitely a place to visit for the health conscious business traveler or families or groups who need to relax and escape the urban stress.
However, management should improve on waste management and visitor management.
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Reviewed on 18 February 2017