By Ogova Ondego
Published December 30, 2014
You already know that Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is the only city in the world with a national park roamed by real wildlife as intended by nature within its borders. But did you also know that apart from its sky-clutching buildings, Nairobi’s Central Business District also boasts some of the best recreational parks in the world? Oh, so you didn’t know that?
Instead of just hearing it from me, why don’t you use this season of goodwill (or at least what remains of it!) to sample some of these sites of relaxation, beginning with Uhuru Gardens (Freedom Park in Kiswahili), on Lang’ata Road?
Uhuru Gardens isn’t just a national monument and the largest memorial park in Kenya; it is also a popular recreation park frequented by lovers, families, school parties and companies (You surely must fall somewhere among these groups!).
Functions like jogging, picnics, meditation, prayers, movie shoots, music concerts, weddings and corporate launches take place on this site where independent Kenya’s black, red, green and white flag was first raised at midnight in 1963 as the British colonial flag came down.
The centrepiece of the Gardens–now a National Monument administered by National Museums of Kenya–is a 24-metre high monument commemorating Kenya’s struggle for independence. Also present in the park is a water fountain and a statue of freedom fighters raising the Kenyan flag. The park also has a Mashujaa (heroes)’ Corner complete with a museumâ€”Mashujaa Museum–dedicated to the men and women who fought for Kenya’s political independence.
But where, exactly, is this Uhuru Gardens?
The park is located in Lang’ata along Lang’ata Road. It borders well known landmarks like Carnivore Restaurant and Wilson Airport.
Uhuru Gardens is as accessible by private means as it is by public service vehiclesâ€”matatu number 15, 24 and 125. It is just a 10-15 minutes drive from Nairobi City Centre.
Uhuru Park, located in the Nairobi City Centre, is one of the most popular recreational parks in Nairobi. Picnics, worship meetings, dates and courtships, concerts, theatre performances, boat rides, or just relaxationâ€”It is one of the few places in the capitalistically commercial city that doesn’t chargeâ€”are some of the pastimes while in the park that is surrounded by Haile Selassie Avenue, Uhuru Highway and Kenyatta Avenue.
Besides an artificial lake and island and foot bridges, Uhuru Park is home to the Peace, Love and Unity Monument that was built during the regime of Kenya’s second President, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi.
Adjacent to Uhuru Park, only separated by Kenyatta Avenue, is Central Park that is surrounded by Nyerere Road, Uhuru Highway. Nairobi Serena Hotel sits at the tip of the Central Park. The landmark of this park is a Nyayo Monument that was built to mark a decade of President Daniel arap Moi’s rule.
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But, unlike Uhuru Park, Central Park has no artificial lake or islands. Instead it has a children’s traffic park that is hardly ever used.
Like Uhuru Park, Central Park is easily accessible from all corners of Nairobi by both private and local transport.
The five-acre Jeevanjee Gardens on Muindi Mbingu Street is yet one of the few green spaces within the city that can be used at no cost. It has several monuments, relaxation benches and trees that provide the much needed shade for relaxation. It is surrounded by Muindi Mbingu Street, Moi Avenue, Moktar Daddah Street and Monrovia Street.
Situated in Parklands area and surrounded by Limuru Road, Forest Road and Muranga Road, City Park can be accessed by both private and public transportâ€”Matatus plying routes 11a, 11b, 11c, 106, 107, 108, 100, 44 and 45.
City Park was established as a zoological garden during the British colonial era in 1921 and declared a public park in 1925.
All right. Do you now see why it makes sense to sample these few green spaces for free before the Kenya’s holiday season–it runs December 12-January 1–ends?
And oh, before I sign off, I just wanted to inform you that you may also be interested in visiting Nairobi Arboretum on State House Road, about three kilometres away from the Nairobi CBD.
Enjoy your holiday but don’t forget to drop me a line after your visit to these parks!