Middle East & Africa

Nairobi, Kenya

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Places to Run in Nairobi

Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya, a country known for producing some of the best competitive distance runners in the world. Located along the Nairobi River in the south-central part of Kenya, this homeland of the Maasai people became prominent during British East Africa occupation, then gained independence in 1963. Today, it’s a hub for Kenyan culture, business, and of course, running. Nairobi is one of those cities where it’s best to know a spot for running, rather than assuming it’s runnable from the place you’re staying. Runners should take into account Nairobi’s elevation of nearly 1800m (5,800 feet).

Some of the best running in Nairobi can be found right in the center of the city, at the Nairobi Arboretum and around Uhuru and Central Parks. Many runners also enjoy the safe dirt roads and trails throughout the Karura Forest. There are fun trail challenges in the Ngong Hills Nature Reserve, Ngong Forest Sanctuary, and the Oloolua Nature Trail, but there are also plenty of street running options in neighborhoods like Runda, Karen, and Langata.

A couple of notes about Nairobi:  Many visitors find Nairobi a hectic and challenging city to get around. Most locals use matatus, a sort of shared taxi, to travel about. The bus and train system, while it has extensive coverage, is sometimes criticized as unreliable. Most visitors will find taxis to be the best option to travel from run to run. Also, locals we talked to mentioned that runners should avoid the parks at night. Finally, make note of Nairobi’s mile-high altitude!

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Nairobi, Kenya

Karura Forest

Only about 10 minutes from the Parklands and Westlands neighborhoods of north Nairobi, the Karura Forest is... more...

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Nairobi Arboretum

Nairobi, Kenya

Just 3 km from Nairobi’s Central Business District, the Nairobi Arboretum is a great central running location, with well-maintained trails and lots of opportunities for viewing native flora and fauna.
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Uhuru and Central Parks

Nairobi, Kenya

Two popular city parks in the center of Nairobi, Uhuru and Central Parks can be combined for loops up to 3.6 km. Interior paths make for multiple length options and great views of the city skyline. Can combine w/Arboretum run.
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Karura Forest

Nairobi, Kenya

The beloved running spot for locals, this escape just north of the city is full of smooth and rolling dirt forest roads. The Kenyan Forest Service, which maintains the park, has mapped out 5, 10, and 15 km routes.
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Ngong Hills Nature Reserve

Nairobi, Kenya

Get your hill training in at the Ngong Hills Nature Reserve, where runners can jog across the Great Rift on a dirt road with great views for up to 22 km out and back. It's not technical but there are some steep sections.
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Ngong Forest Sanctuary

Nairobi, Kenya

On the west end of Nairobi, the Ngong Forest Sanctuary is home to several scenic trail running options. Favorites include the 5 km perimeter loop and the trail from the Dagoretti Police Station.
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Runda Estate Area

Nairobi, Kenya

This affluent area of north Nairobi features kilometers of nice sidewalks past gardens and impressive homes, but runners can also escape to the villages and coffee fields on the outskirts of the neighborhood.
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Karen/Langata Area

Nairobi, Kenya

Another fantastic neighborhood for running in Nairobi, the Karen/Langata area roads with good sidewalks, some nice homes, and some quieter more rural roads as well. The 5 km Oloolua Nature Trail in the area is great for a trail run.
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Nairobi Arboretum

Nairobi, Kenya

Just 3 km from Nairobi’s Central Business District, the Nairobi Arboretum is a great central running location, with well-maintained trails and lots of opportunities for viewing native flora and fauna.
Explore

Karura Forest

Nairobi, Kenya

The beloved running spot for locals, this escape just north of the city is full of smooth and rolling dirt forest roads. The Kenyan Forest Service, which maintains the park, has mapped out 5, 10, and 15 km routes.
Explore

Ngong Hills Nature Reserve

Nairobi, Kenya

Get your hill training in at the Ngong Hills Nature Reserve, where runners can jog across the Great Rift on a dirt road with great views for up to 22 km out and back. It's not technical but there are some steep sections.
Explore

Nairobi has a terrific climate for running, with mild-to-warm temperatures nearly year-round. The city’s altitude definitely affects the climate — especially the cool nights. Summer high temperatures average in the 26C (80F) range, with cool-ish nights. A layer might be required any time of year! Winters are a bit cooler, in the 22C (72F) range with nights dipping to 9C (high 40sF).  There are distinct wet and dry seasons in Nairobi.

Most lodging in Nairobi is centered around the Central Business District, with a smattering along the city’s major highways. Use Google’s hotel map to find nearby places to stay.

Nairobi has lots of great running stores, as well as some fantastic clubs and group runs.

George and the team at Run Beyond were instrumental in helping create this guide. Be sure to drop by and visit them for gear, running advice, group runs, and upcoming races.

Other local running stores include RUNNERSPOINT, Runnaway, Decathalon, and Nairobi Sports House.

If you’re looking for some company on your run, Go! Running Tours offers a variety of educational running tours around Nairobi. 

Other local clubs are happy to host visiting runners. The Karen Run Club offers trail and road options a couple times a week. See their Facebook page for upcoming runs. Check out Jambonairobi’s list of other running clubs here.

Nairobi’s most famous running event is the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, which also has half, 5k, and 10k options. There is also the Beyond Zero Half Marathon, and a number of shorter races. Check out Run Beyond to see what events they have going on.