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Nairobi, being the economic powerhouse of East Africa, is defined by an ever-changing skyline brought about by the architectural marvels; setting the trend for the new business hotels such as Ibis Styles. As such, camping in Nairobi may sound as an oxymoron but then this is the only capital city in the world with a National Park.
The groups of friends and tourists looking for an adventure this coming Easter, could enjoy camping in the city without having to travel far for a weekend. Here are a few of the popular camping spots in Nairobi and vicinity that will re-connect you to nature all the while staying connected online.
1. Nairobi National Park
The park is wildly popular for early morning or evening game drives, when the animals come out of hibernation. Twiga Campsite allows visitors to the park to enjoy the best of both game drives without being rushed. Stargazing is possible on one of those rare nights when a city blackout happens.
Nairobi Tented Camp is a glamping spot within the Nairobi National Park with all the
luxuries of a hot shower, flush toilets, and a queen-size bed. The Meru tents are set at the heart of the riverine forest; hence the safari experience remains authentic and undiluted. The Kenya Wildlife Service is behind the conservation and protection of this valuable national heritage.
Oloolua Forest is a short 20 km drive from the Nairobi City Centre. The public campsite is well equipped with the essentials; running water and pit latrines, to make your stay among the primates quite comfortable. The 250 hectares of indigenous forest has a well mapped out nature trail, spectacular waterfall, picnic site, caves, and a viewing tower. A haven for soul searching or reconnecting with your partner.
The National Museums of Kenya helps to conserve and protect this valuable natural heritage for future generations.
On the eastern slopes of the Ngong Hills sits Kisames Giraffe Camp, a 13-acre giraffe habitat. The camping site is an exciting spot for team buildings, with exhilarating outdoor activities including zip lining, rope obstacles and a nature trail that is ideal for mountain biking. For the sportive, hiking up the Ngong hills for a view of the city from the top is quite a treat.
Get cozy in the evening over a bonfire to take in the sunset with the giraffes dotting the background as they drink up at the dam. The area has little light pollution which makes star watching a pleasure.
3. Thika – Matuu
Fourteen Falls is only an hour’s drive from Nairobi, presenting a 27-meter spectacle on Athi River. The 14 Falls Lodge is an alcohol-free zone making it the best camping spot for families. The traditional thatched cottages are available for a night’s stay complete with self-catering facilities. However, for a memorable night with your kids, make a camping fire, pop open a bag of marshmallows and narrate stories just before sleeping under a tent. The 30-acre lodge has a fairly-priced restaurant, hence no need to wear yourselves out with cooking.
Ol Donyo Sabuk was so named by the Maasai to mean ‘big mountain’, since it towers at 2100m. The Akamba named it Kiima kya Mboo meaning ‘buffalo mountain’, due to its dominance among the resident animals. A visit to Ol Donyo Sabuk (Kilima Mbogo) Park can be easily combined with a trip to Fourteen Falls as they are only 10 km apart. The park has three camping grounds; Turacco Public Campsite at the entrance gate, Rock Hyrax 2km from the gate, and Summit Camp 9km from the gate.
For all manner of camping in the wild, carry your camping gear, a GSM phone, lighter, torch, insect repellent and lots of drinking water. The fun in camping in Nairobi is in experiencing the remote, while being close to the city.
By Josephine Wawira