Your Complete Guide to Nairobi Kenya's Uhuru Park
October 1, 2019
by Barbara AO
Uhuru Park, the biggest recreational park in Nairobi, holds a dear place in the hearts of many Kenyans. During the 80’s and 90’s our parents would take us there for picnics, boat rides and photo sessions. Nowadays the park is a local resting spot and although it’s now showing its age, it still has a special charm and is worth a visit while in Nairobi.
Location and directions
Below is a map showing the park’s location. Please note its proximity to central park, hence many people confuse the two. Uhuru Park is the one with the artificial lake whereas central park has the Nyayo monument.
The park is always open however the main activities, that is the boat rides and children fanfare rides operate from 9am to 5:30pm.
There aren’t any entrance fees but if you are driving expect to pay about 300 kes or $3 for city council parking fees
Uhuru Park Boats (300 Kes / $3)
There are paddle boats that seat 4 people and cost 300kes per boat for a 30 minute ride. The instructors will show you how to operate the boat and then you can take it for a spin yourself. However, if you don’t feel confident an instructor can join you on your cruise.
Uhuru Park Lake (Free)
There is a curving artificial lake at Uhuru Park some of which has some pretty flowers that are perfect for photoshoots. The grass around the lake is prime real estate for picnics or an afternoon nap and you will find many couples and families seated along the lakeshore. Just for the record there is no swimming pool at uhuru park.
Uhuru park monument (Free)
Uhuru park has only one monument which was erected after Pope John Paul 2 held a service at the park in 1989.
Uhuru Park fountain (Free)
There is a fountain at Uhuru park however it isn’t functioning. It’s a sad sight for those of us that remember how pretty it was in its heyday. Now, although still pretty, it’s a crumbling structure and unfortunately it has quite a bit of litter. It will look good on photos though.
Uhuru park freedom corner (Free)
This is a corner at Uhuru Park where people meet before they start a protest at the city centre. Its history starts with one of Kenya’s most revered women, Wangari Maathai as she, together with many other women, protested the brutality of president Moi’s regime from here. Ms. Maathai also successfully protested against commercial developments at Uhuru park which helped keep it as the public relaxation ground that it is today. Although there haven’t been protests of late it may be prudent to check with a local to ensure there isn’t a planned protest at Uhuru Park on the day you intend to visit.
Uhuru park view point – Free
From this point you can see Nairobi’s skyline. It’s quite beautiful and a relaxing place to sit as it’s by the artificial lake.
Uhuru Park Market
There isn’t a market per se. More like many small tuck-shops selling foodstuffs like peanuts, sodas, scones etc. and hawkers selling second hand clothes
Uhuru Park Amusement Centre (Kes 100)
There is a childrens’ section at Uhuru park whereby there are fanfare rides like a merry go round and ferris wheel. The rides are old but still functioning and thy harge kes 100 per ride. On weekends they also have camel rides, horse rides, balloons and face painting also at 100 kes.
Adjacent to Uhuru park there is another amusement ark called luna park which has a better variety of rides including the epic banana boat that will scare the living daylights out of you. Costs for rides start at Kes 100.
There are people that can take polaroid photos of you at the park. This is a tongue-in-cheek must do for Kenyans as the photo is a novelty souvenir as well as proof that you really were at Uhuru Park.
There is a budding skateboarding scene in Nairobi and enthusiasts meet at the assembly court to showcase and practice their skills. For skateboarding its best to go on weekends though you can see a few skateboarders during the week as well.
Jukwaa Lounge Restaurant
There is a restaurant at uhuru park. It has a laid back vibe and is very popular for group events and meetings due its central location. Not a bad place to relax after your visit to the park but be warned, you might find the place full and the waiters overwhelmed.
Central Park and Nyayo Monument
Across the road (Kenyatta Avenue) from Uhuru Park there is another park called central park. This one is smaller and seems to be better maintained. The main attraction at Central Park is the nyayo monument which is great for photo sessions.
Is Uhuru Park Safe?
As all parts of Nairobi there are negative elements in Uhuru park so I would suggest that you travel light and don’t carry valuable items when you go to visit. Additionally, be aware of your surroundings and don’t leave any bags unattended. There are a lot of vendors and idlers so you will probably be approached by a vendor to buy something or by beggars looking for small donations.
During election years the park is sometimes used for political rallies which can sometimes turn violent. However, this usually only happens during election years, the next of which will take place in 2022.
Uhuru Park at night
The activities at the park close by 5:30 pm and there are rarely any night activities. The park is always open but like any other city park it is not safe at night so don’t be there after sunset
I enjoyed my visit to Uhuru Park and Central Park as it was a pleasant trip down memory lane. If you are a relaxed person that isn’t bothered by crowds it’s a nice place to relax, see the Nairobi skyline and mingle with locals. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for tourists with young children as you may get approached by vendors and the homeless and this might be uncomfortable.