Karura Forest is one of the urban forests in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The forest was gazetted back in 1932 and is managed by the Kenya Forest Service in conjunction with the Friends of Karura Forest. Karura Forest is located north of central Nairobi and is bordered by the suburbs of Muthaiga, Gigiri, Runda, Ridgeway’s, Peponi, and New Muthaiga. The western part of the forest is also known as Sigiria Forest which has more exotic tree plantations. Karura Forest has an area of 1063.0 hectares, making it the largest of the three main gazetted urban forests in Nairobi. The others are Ngong Forest and Oloolua Forest, The centrally located Nairobi Arboretum is much smaller. Karura forest has well-marked and maintained nature trails. Five tributaries of the Nairobi River pass through Karura Forest: Ruaka River which separates Karura River and the Runda Residential area;
Karura River with traverses through the forest, Getathuru River borders the Forest along its Southern edge with Muthaiga Residential area; Thigiri River (a tributary of Getathuru River) criss-cross through the western section of Karura Forest, and Mathare River which forms part of the Southern boundary of the Sigiria block.
Mammals in Karura Forest
Wildlife in Karura forest includes Monkey species (including recently re-introduced black and white Colobus Monkeys), Bushbaby, Bushbuck, Bushpig, Porcupine, Duiker, Genet, and Suni. Recently in one of the many camera traps installed in Karura forest, a little interesting carnivore was captured- the African Palm Civet a long, low-slung arboreal carnivore with a muscular, ringed tail longer than a body, strictly active at night
Birdwatching Karura Forest
Karura forest birding is done on foot, which brings a sense of calm and is a great way to connect with nature
More than 200 bird species have been recorded in Karura forest, its quiet, and tranquility, permitting encounters with amazing forest birds in rapid sequence. In a birding walk of two hours in Karura forest, you can manage to record and see colorful and interesting birds numbering close to a hundred
Bird species in the Karura forest include; Singing Cisticola, African Goshawk, African Crowned Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Brown-chested Alethe, Narina Trogon, Long Crested Eagle, White-backed Duck, Malachite Kingfisher, Hartlaub’s Turaco, White-headed Barbet, Slender-billed Greenbul, African Black Duck, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Paradise Flycatcher, Grey-crowned Cranes, Spot-flanked Barbet. Recently a Red-chested Flufftail a secretive bird in bogs, swamps, and marshes, has been heard at the swamp next to KFEET. The sightings of birds that used to be seen 10 years ago have been attributed to the planting of more indigenous trees in patches that had exotic species. Two hours birding tour in Karura forest with our experienced guide can yield more than 100 bird species
Kindly Note: Plastic water bottles are not allowed in Karura Forest, use reusable bottles to carry drinking water.
Attractions in Karura forest:
A 15-meter waterfall, 50 km of nature trails for walking, running, and biking archaeological sites (recently excavated, artifacts being analyzed), an old chimney incinerator – used by the Central Bank for the burning of decommissioned currency up until the mid-1990′s,
An abandoned stone quarry pond, now called Lily Lake, which hosts some interesting waterbird species, is the best place to see the rare White-backed Duck.
Caves which are considered to be sacred by many and steeped in Kenyan history (they were formerly used by the Mau-Mau freedom fighters as hideouts during the struggle for Independence),
Patches of bamboo, marshlands that attract bird life including winter migrants from Europe and Asia, and serene groves of secondary and primary indigenous trees.
Karura forest is also where Professor Wangari Maathai (late leader of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) carried out a much-publicized campaign for saving the forest from developers who had tried to grab large portions of the north of the central section of the forest. The forest became a symbol of the fight against land grabbing in Kenya. Recently a huge Southern Rock Python has been seen on one of the Nature trails
Other Activities in Karura Forest; walking, jogging, tree planting, dog walking on a leash, concerts, weddings, team building, sports and fitness, biking, tennis at the KFEET grounds,