The Karura Forest Reserve

The Karura Forest Reserve is an urban upland forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. This remarkable geographical location and natural resource is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world fully within a city limits. It covers an area of about 1,000 ha (2,500 ac) and today is a a shining example of how country-based corporate social responsibility and individual philanthropy can serve to secure and protect a country’s natural resources.

The forest offers eco-friendly opportunities for Kenyans and visitors to enjoy a leafy green respite from the hustle and bustle of the city to walk, to jog, or simply to sit quietly and experience the serenity of nature in all its diversity.

Previously, the forest made headlines for all the wrong reasons, primarily because of crime and land-grabbing. In 2009, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS is a parastatal body within Kenya’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife) — in partnership with the Friends of Karura Community Forest Association — embarked on an aggressive programme to secure Nairobi’s key natural resource.

With all Karura’s vast and vibrant beauty only a few kilometers from the heart of the city, it remains for Kenyans and visitors to lend their support by visiting the forest!

The Kenya Forest Service and the Friends of Karura Forest invite you to take a walk in the woods and help protect the forest for future generations…

Historical Sites & Areas of Special Interest

The forest has:

  • a 15-metre waterfall,
  • 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,
  • 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,
  • serene groves of secondary and primary indigenous trees.

The forest is also where Professor Wangari Maathai (late leader of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) carried out a much publicised campaign for saving the forest from developers who 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.

Opening hours: 06:00 AM to 18:00 PM

Karura Video

Filmmaker Danni Karanja has kindly crafted a short video on Karura and the activities of the Friends of Karura Forest. You can jump to the YouTube link by clicking here, or dive right in below…  Enjoy!      

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How to Get There

BY CAR Entrances to the main section of Karura Forest (Gate letters as per Karura Forest Map): Gate A. Main entry off Limuru Road across from the Belgian Embassy (road access to KFEET. Centre and FKF forest office) Gate B. Eastern Family Trail entrance (pedestrian only) at the end of Old Kiambu Road, off Kiambu …

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Karura Forest Trails

Karura Forest Maps

Map of Karura Forest – 3rd Revision The latest full-colour detailed A-3 map (produced by Harvey Croze and the GIS Unit of the Kenya Forest Service) is for sale from entrances to the forest for a new, lower price of KES 200/=.  New trails and forest features are indicated, and the map has been protected with …

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Ecology: Climate & Soils, Plants & Animals

Climate The forest, as Nairobi, has two wet seasons: April to June and October to December. In July and August it is cool, cloudy and dry. From August to December it is sunny and dry. January, February and early March are hot and dry months. The average annual rainfall is 930 mm (37 inches), varying …

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Karura Forest Photos

A semi-permanent exhibition of photos by Harvey Croze is hanging in the KFEET Centre. The images are for sale. Proceeds will go to Karura Forest conservation. Ask Education Officer, Lucy Njoka, at the Centre for a pricelist. Or contact Harvey Croze directly: +254 (0)722 677711 More photos may be seen here.

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