Karura forest Guide : Karura Forest also known as The Karura Forest Reserve is an urban forest situated on the outskirts of Nairobi city, this forest is one of the last remaining local indigenous forest to provide a vital carbon sink for Nairobi’s industrial activity. Karura forest is the largest of three main gazette forests in Nairobi city the capital of Kenya, located in the northern part of the city. The other forests in Nairobi city are Ngong Forest and Oloolua Forest.
Karura Forest was gazetted in 1932 and is managed by the Kenya Forest Service in conjunction with The Friends of Karura Forest Community Forest Association, this forest covers an area of 1,041 hectares (2,570 acre) consisting of 3 parts separated by Limuru and Kiambo roads. The large large middle portion is 1,750 acres , the Sigria saliet to the west is 620 acres, the portion to the east of Kiambu road has been allocted to specila national priorities.
Here is all you need to know about Karura Forest
Geography of Karura Forest
Karura Forest spans over an area of 1063 hectares making it the largest of the 3 main gazetted forests in Nairobi, other forests are Ngong Forest and Oloolua Forest. Karura Forest is located north of the Central region of Nairobi and is bordered by the surbubs of Muthaigi, Gigiri, Runda, Ridgeways, Mathare North, Peponi and New Muthaiga. The western part of this forests is also known as Sigiria Forest.
The area north North of central Nairobi forms a drainage basin which was once heavily forested but today there are only patches such as Jarura forest and the city park. Karura forest is cut by Thigirie, Getathuru, Rui Ruaka and Karura rivers which are all tributaries of Nairobi River. Features found in Karurua forest include a waterfall, bamboo forest, marshland, Mau Mau caves and an old Church.
Karura Forest’s temperatures vary throughout the year, there are two wet seasons from April to June which are long rains and from to October to December which are the short rains. The rest of the year are sunny and dry in Karura forest except for July and August which are usually cool and cloudy. Karura forest experiences an average annual rainfall of 930 mm.
Flora in Karura Forest
Karura Forest covering an area of 2,570 acre consists of 3 parts which are separated by Limuru and Kiambu roads, about 36% of the forest consists of indigenous upland forest tree species.
- Plant species found in the forest include Araucaria cunninghamii, Eucalyptus saligna, E. globula, Grevillea robusta, Cupressus torulosa and Cupressus lusitanica
- Shrub species include Strychnos henningsii (Muteta), Erythrococca bongensis (Muharangware), Vangueria madagascariensis (Mubiro), Rhamnus prinoides (Mukarakinga), Caesalpinia volkensii (Mubuthi), Solanum incanum (Mutongu), Elaeodendron buchananii (Mutanga) and Rhus natalensis (Muthigio).
- Indigenous tree species include Olea europaea subsp. auspidata, Croton megalocarpus, Warburgia ugandensis (Muthiga), Brachylaena huillensis (Muhugu), Uvaridendron anisatum, Markhamia lutea, Vepris nobilis, Juniperus procera (Cedar), Craebean brownii, Newtonia buchananii, Salvadora persica, Ficus thonningii, Trichilia emetica, Calodendrum capense and Dombeya goetzenii.
- Other plant species in the forest include groves of Arundinaria alpine and kenya’s native bamboo species.
From the forest, once can also get views of the riparian belts of Gitathuro and Ruaka rivers, exotic giant bamboo Dendrocalamus giganteus along Karura River near the tree nursery, and small wetlands that are important habitats of birds.
Fauna in Karura Forest
Karura Forest is a home to a abundance of wildlife with about 200 recorded species including Harveys duikers, bushbucks, bush pigs, genets, honey badgers, civets, bush babies, porcupines, Syke’s monkeys, bush squirrels, hares, fruit bats. There are also various reptile species such as pythons, green snakes and monitor lizards.
Karura Forest is a great home for birds hosting about 200 species including Ayres Hawk-eagle, the African Crowned Eagle, the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Narina Trogon, Owls, Crested Cranes, Sparrows, Doves, Weavers and Vultures. Karura has butterflies including the African Queen and Desmond’s Green Banded Swallowtail among others.
Things to do in Karura Forest
Karura Forest is a nature paradise and a perfect destination for numerous activities such as
In the forest there are great spots for picnic where visitors can sit and rest as they enjoy the nature.
Nature walk is an entertaining activity to do in Karura Forest, on this activity tourists get an opportunity to tour the caves and waterfalls. Karura forest is safe for nature walks and they are better done in company of guides and scouts who also patrol the forest,Karura forest Guide .
Karura forest is a perfect place to biking, there is a biking trail of 12 kilometers long taking you through the green forest areas, waterfalls, streams and caves.
Note: in Karura Forest, the hills are steep and during biking experience you might feel your legs.
Best Time to Visit Karura Forest
Karura Forest is a year round destination, however the best time to visit the forest is during the dry season. This period coincides with the Great Wildebeest migration and zebra migration as well.
The rainy seasons in Karura Forest is a good time to visit the forest for tourists who seeking to enjoy vegetation at its utmost, in this period there are also few visitors .
Particularly, December is the great time to travel to Kenya as the rain is short and there is a great opportunity to spot newborn animals and migratory bird species.
How to Get To Karura Forest
One can get to Karura Forest by private or public means of transport, by private transport you use the Limuru road after the Belgian Embassy which is the main entrance to Karura Forest. The forest has two other entrances that is the Old Kiambu ate which is o Old Kiambu road or the KFS ain gate which is off Kiambu road and opposite CID Headquarters.
You can hire a taxi from the city centre at about Ksh 1,000.
Using public transport to get to Karura Forest 11B, 106, 107, 108, 114 or 116 of public service vehicles are available from Nairobi City Centre and they will get you right to the main entrance on Limuru Road. If you intend to use the KFS main gate on Kimbu road, a matatu ride is about 100 or 120 ksh.