Karura Forest is an urban forest in Nairobi the capital of Kenya, this forest gazette in 1932 is the largest of the three main gazette forests in Nairobi, the other forests are Ngong Forest and Oloolua Forest. Karura forest is situated in the north of central Nairobi forest and is under the management of Kenya Forest Service in conjunction with the Friends of Karura Forest Community Forest Association.

Karurua Forest covers an area of 1,041 hectares comprising of 3 parts that are separated by Limuru and Kiambu roads, the middle section of the forest is approximately 1,750 acres, the Sigria salient to the west is approximately 620 acres, the portion to the east of Kiambu road has been allocated to special national priorities to thrive on Kenya Wildlife Tours.

Due to the close proximity of the forest to growing city of Nairobi, there have been plans to reduce the forest for housing and other development plans. However these plans have been controversial with conservationists, in the late 1990s there were housing projects that would have excised portions of this beautiful forest. Conservationists led by Wangari Maathai the leader of the Green Belt Movement who later became a Noble Peace Prize Laureate carried out a much publicized campaign for saving the forest. From then, Karura forest became a symbol against controversial land grabbing in Kenya

Karura Forest
Karura Forest

The forest also features rivers of Gitathuro, Ruaka and Karura and wetlands which are important habitats for birds.

Flora species in Karura Forest

Karura Forest hosts a variety of tree species with 36% being indigenous upland forest tree species, these 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.

Plants in Karura Forest include Araucaria cunninghamii, Eucalyptus saligna, E. globula, Grevillea robusta, Cupressus torulosa and Cupressus lusitanica. There are also Shrubs that consist of 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).


Karura Forest is a thriving habitat for wildlife with over 200 species of wildlife including Harveys duikers, bushbucks, bush pigs, genets, honey badgers, civets, bush babies, porcupines, Syke’s monkeys, bush squirrels, hares, fruit bats, suni, fruit bats and various species of reptiles such as pythons, green snakes and monitor lizards.

Karura Forest
Syke’s monkeys

There are also butterflies species including the African Queen and Desmond’s Green Banded Swallowtail.

Birds in Karura Forest

In Karura Forest, there are 200 recorded species of birds including

  • Singing Cisticola
  • African Goshawk
  • African Crowned Eagle
  • Augur Buzzard
  • Grey Cuckoo
  • 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 (a breeding pair)
  • Spot- flanked Barbet

How to get Karura Forest

Karura Forest is very accessible and one can get there by either public transport or private transport,

By private transport – Limuru Road, after the Belgian Embassy is the main entrance to Karura Forest, there are also 2 other entrances to the forest that are the Old Kiambu Gate (an old Kiambu road) or the KFS main gate which is off Kiambu road and opposite CID Headquarters.

By public transport – several public service vehicles such as 11B, 106, 107, 108, 114 or 116 from Nairobi city center right to the main entrance on Limuru road. If you take the KFS main gate on Kiambu road, matatus are available.  

Opening Hours

Karura forest is open to visitors from 06:00 am to 06:00 pm

What to Wear and Carry

It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes to enjoy your trip. Carry drinking water, camera, binoculars, and wildlife books especially for birds and butterflies.


Temperatures in the area vary throughout the year. There are two wet seasons From April to June, during the long rains and from October to December, during the short rains. The rest of the days of the year are sunny and dry except for July and August, which are usually cool and cloudy. Karura has an average annual rainfall of 930 mm.

Best Time to Visit

July to December is one of the best times to visit Karura Forest. It is during the dry season and the time of the Great Wildebeest Migration  and zebras as well.

The rainy seasons are a good time to visit the area as well. There are fewer visitors during this time of the year, when you will have the chance to enjoy the vegetation to the utmost.

Karura Forest
Karura Forest waterfalls

Particularly, December is a great time to travel to Kenya. The rain is short and there is a huge opportunity to spot newborn animals and migratory bird species.

Things to Do in Karura Forest

Karura Forest is generally a great place to hang out, as it has great spots for picnics where visitors can tour the caves and waterfalls while on Kenya wildlife tours. It is safe, besides it has guides and scouts who patrol the forest on a regular basis. They can give you a ride back to the start of the trails.

The forest is a perfect place for biking activities. It has a biking trail of 12 kilometers long. Note that the hills are steep, you might lose feeling your legs. The trails will take you through the green forest areas, waterfalls, streams and caves. It is refreshing and relaxing.

Karura is also a good space for workouts, yoga, pilates and personal training. There is no better place than among nature to do these activities.

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