Karura Forest Reserve

Karura Forest Reserve ultimate guide 2024

Karura Forest Preview.

There are 3 Gazetted Forests in Nairobi, Kenya. The Karura Forest Reserve, Oloolua Nature Trail and Ngong Forest.

Karura Forest Reserve is accredited as the largest gazetted Forest near a Capital City in the world. I think Nairobi is without a doubt simply Phenomenal.

It does not only have a natural habited National Park (Nairobi National Park) but also have Karura Forest Reserve as the Largest Forest near the city (Nairobi) in the world.

That is something to be proud of as a Kenyan. “Okay enough with the praising”. So, back to Karura Forest.

If you adore and love nature, this is the gem to go to near Nairobi, Kenya. The Serenity and tranquillity in this place is unparalleled.

I doubt Karura Forest would be there were it not for Wangari Maathai.

She really fought for Karura Forest in the ’90s with the then fierce and dictatorial government.

Luckily, she emerged victorious with a movement she formed Green Belt Movement which is active to date.

Now without much ado, let us delve in and see what Karura Forest Reserve has in store for us.

How to get there?

Karura Forest reserve Gate C
Karura Forest reserve Gate C

It is only 6.5 Kilometers from Nairobi CBD, Hit Thika Road Super Highway and branch out to Kiambu Road at Muthaiga.

Your destination will be 3.9 Kilometers from Muthaiga. Now there are three entry Points to Karura Forest as discussed below.

Gate A This is the Main Gate, off Limuru Road adjacent to Belgian Embassy.

Not open for the public: Gate B, is only accessible to the forest officials since it is more of a service road.

Commonly used Gate C next to DCI, also known as the shark’s Tank, due to the delectable Nyama Choma across the Kiambu road.

How to get there using Public Means.

To use Gate A which is adjacent to Belgian Embassy. Take Matatu number 11B, 106, 107 or 116 and alight at the Belgian Embassy.

Gate C which is in Kiambu Road, you will take Matatu numbers 100, 120, 121 or 116 from Nairobi City Centre.

As for a Taxi, you will be charged anything, not more than Kes1,000.

Karura Forest Reserve Charges 2024/25.

Citizen Adult Kes100
Child Kes50
Resident Adult Kes200
Child Kes100
Non-Resident Adult $6
Child $3

Rate Card for Vehicles.

5-Seater Kes100
12-Seater Kes200
>14<32-Seater Kes300
Bus >32-Seater Kes500

Activities found in Karura Forest Reserve.

The Ambience.

The main reason that drives me to Karura forest is the Ambience and the tranquillity. It is a healing forest You never get such in Nairobi regularly.

This is one of the places to empty your mind and clear the city’s daily hustle and struggles. It is a therapy on its own.

Besides this, there are several activities to partake in Karura Forest.

Bird Watching.

Elusive Hartlaub`s Turaco
Elusive Hartlaub`s Turaco

There are about 200 Bird Species in Karura Forest Reserve. The environment makes it easy for you to spot the birds.

It is so calm, and you can hear the melodious harmony of birds from all sides if you`re good at identifying the sounds of the birds you will have an upper hand in spotting them.

The most likely birds to spot in Karura Forest Reserve are as follows.

  • African crowned eagle
  • Hartlaub’s Turaco
  • Grey cuckoo
  • Long-crested Eagle
  • African Black Duck
  • King Fishers
  • Singing Cisticola
  • Yellow-Rumped Tinker Bird


If you like jogging or taking a walk, this is your go-to place. The place is organically interactive as you walk or jog.

You will get to appreciate Nature more as you jog and sweat away to better health and a feel-good mood.

Mountain Biking.

They have the best biking Trails, they are sturdy and multi-speed bikes for hire in Gates A, C and D. The charges are Kes500 or $5 Per Bike.

The place is well known for biking, it is different here riding their bike has a sense of fulfilment maybe it is just me but I like it here.

Dog Walking.

This is common given that Karura Forest is tucked near the Runda Leafy Suburbs. They like walking their dogs in the forest, especially on weekends.

Please note your dog should always be on leach apart from the secluded joints where you can let the dog loose.


You`re welcome to play tennis which is nestled at the KFEET Centre. Only single games are allowed. Please make sure you have worn the right tennis shoes.

They open from 7:00 AM – 5: 00 PM.


Sigiria Picnic Site
Sigiria Picnic Site

There are 5 designated areas for a picnic in Karura Forest Reserve. Please remember to leave nothing behind but footprints take nothing but memories.

The picnic sites are-:

  • KFEET Centre
  • Ruaka Swamp
  • Karuru Gardens on Kiambu Road.
  • Amani Gardens
  • Sigiria adjacent to the obstacle course.

What to see at Karura Forest?

The Mau Mau Caves – This is where the Mau Mau used to hide from the colonials.

Scenic Waterfalls and Rivers – Karura Forest reserve has phenomenal 15 Meter waterfalls and streams cutting across the reserve.

The cascading sound of the waterfall plus the melodious enchanting birds around make one of the most harmonious euphonies.

The Incinerator – This was used by the central bank of Kenya to burn the old and decommissioned currency back in the day.

Lily Lake – This is an abandoned stone quarry Pond, which is now known as Lily Lake.

Marshlands – They attract birdlife including winter migrants from Europe and Asia

Karura Forest Reserve Size.

It is the largest Gazetted forest near a city in the world. No other like Karura Forest. It has a whopping size of 1,041 Hectares.

It has more than 200 Bird Species as we have seen above and up to 605 Animal Species. It is managed by The Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

Are there animals in Karura Forest?

Bushbuck at Karura Forest Reserve
Bushbuck at Karura Forest Reserve

The short answer is, that there is plenty of wildlife in Karura Forest.

They include -:

  • Porcupine
  • Grimm Duiker
  • Civets
  • Sykes Monkey
  • Bush Baby
  • Bush Bucks
  • Bush Pigs
  • Genet Cats
  • Ground Squirrels
  • Hares
  • Epauletted Bat

Frequently asked questions about Karura Forest.

Can I carry Alcohol? No, you will be searched upon entrance and alcohol is not allowed in Karura Forest Reserve and neither is plastic.

Can one carry food? Yes, food is allowed however make sure to only leave your footprints.

Is Karura forest Safe? More than Safe, it is heavily guarded 24/7.

What time do they open?

Karura Forest is Open Every Day of the week from 06:00 AM -6:00 PM. However, the last entry is 5:45 PM and the gates close at 7:00 PM.

Are Snacks allowed in Karura Forest? Yes, but the food is only allowed to be eaten in the designated picnic areas.

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