There was a call on the radio that some lions had been spotted moving to thicker up on the hillsides. We drove to the area and saw one female moving purposefully up the hill. About 30 seconds and two mediocre photos later, she was gone.
We were just driving along when I saw a lioness walking on the side of the road. We watched her move off the road and stop. She was gazing across the valley to the hills on the other side. I followed her gaze and excitedly announced, "Two rhinos!" The lioness vanished into the bush.
Seeing a lion and black rhino mother and calf in one view is pretty darn impressive for any safari anywhere! It was a first for me and a Big Score for Nairobi National Park!
Black rhinos #1 and #2:
Thanks to the lioness, we saw a mother and a young calf slowly ascending the brush covered slopes on the hill across from us. We watched them about 5 minutes until they were gone.
Black rhinos #3 and #4:
About 10 minutes later, we saw another mother and larger calf moving through a clearing. They were trotting away from us and were hidden by brush after about 30 seconds.
Black rhino #5:
The guide saw a lone rhino in the distance.
Cheetah, or lack thereof:
My guide David and I both shared the same favorite animal—the cheetah. I had seen my first cheetah in Nairobi National Park on an afternoon drive in 1994 (but no lions or rhinos back then). The guide said it had been several years since he had seen a cheetah in the park and the most recent game count found one male. The lack of gazelle may help account for the lack of cheetah.
Vehicle traffic in the 44 sq mile/117 sq km park:
Despite being a Sunday when local residents enjoy the park, our biggest crowd was 4 cars at Lion #1. We were the third car and by the time the fourth car arrived, the lioness had all but disappeared. There were 3 cars at the buffalo & giraffe combo. When we initially spotted the buffalo herd in the distance, I counted 4 parked cars. By the time we approached the herd, all of the vehicles were gone. While driving around, we encountered maybe a total of 4 or 5 vehicles. There were long stretches of only scenery, animal sightings, and us. The majority of our time in the park, I saw no other vehicle.
At the periphery of the park, there were a few mansions. I thought they were lodges they were so huge. They did not form a continuous barrier, but were noticeable. Apparently they also were noticeable to some of the animals and therefore acted as a barrier to animals that might otherwise migrate beyond them.
The border between park and city is fenced. I never saw it, except for the entrance and exit gate.
When we left, using a gate about 10 minutes from Panari Hotel (a different location from where we entered), there was a herd of maybe 30 cows. Apparently some of the guards have family members who are herdsman and permit them access.
Timing and Time on Tour:
Most tours are 4 hours total and include transport to/from your Nairobi hotel and they also usually include a walking tour in addition to the driving part of the tour. I requested that we only do the driving part due to limited time. Most tours are offered in the morning and the afternoon. If doing the morning tour, the earlier, the better. I thought 3 hours driving in the park was about right and it fit well with my schedule since I had an international flight departing at 12:30 pm and got to the airport just after 10:00 am.
More on Panari Hotel:
The staff members I encountered were very proud of the hotel and mentioned that Bill Clinton would be staying in the near future to attend a conference. I remarked that maybe he could see some lions in Kenya because he did not see any in Chobe, Botswana when he visited back when he was president. I had an impressive view of Nairobi National Park from Room 918, shown here. The room itself was very nice. The location is excellent if you wish to be near the airport or make a quick trip to Nairobi National Park. I’ll book it again.
Photos:NBO National Park
This is a link to 15 photos, some of which can be seen in this report. All the animals listed above could have been photographed, especially with a 10x optical zoom. It’s not like they were merely dots on the horizon or offered only fleeting glimpses. I included just a few photos because it was a hazy, overcast day, not conducive to taking lots of good pictures, at least not at my skill level.
If I lived in Nairobi, I’d be in Nairobi National Park all the time.
Right after I finished this report I became aware (thanks to Twaffle) of a terrible situation in Nairobi National Park. Cattle keepers slashed the fences and allowed up to 20,000 cattle into the park. The cows are weak and dying and there is dead cattle all over.