I’ve posted about Karura Forest before. Now I’m posting again from a different standpoint: that of a dog owner.
Since getting Oreo, we go to Karura Forest almost everyday. Sometimes we go to the larger part, using the Limuru Road entrance. Most often we go to the smaller part off of Thigiri Ridge, mostly because it’s a lot closer to us.
Both parts are great. It just depends on what you want to do with your dogs. For longer hikes and runs, I’d recommend the larger part of the forest. For a more manageable off leash area, I’d recommend the smaller part.
Most of the forest (both parts) require dogs on leash. That’s fine for us as Oreo has no leash issues. Oreo loves hiking through all the trails. I love being out in nature and getting extra exercise. We both get a lot out of it.
There are two off leash areas in the larger part. I’ve only been to one of them, not far from River Cafe. The space is nice, but there is a lot of wildlife there. Oreo definitely has some hunting dog in her and I don’t like having her off leash there. If there is a monkey or a dik-dik, she will BOLT! (In fact, she did bolt a few times. She came back every time but I really freaked out because she didn’t instantly come back. I don’t want her to do this. It’s dangerous for her and it stresses out the wildlife.) There is another area near the Kiambu Road entrance, but I have never been there.In the small forest, the off leash area is a big, circular, grassy field with a path around it. It’s much easier to keep an eye on your dog and there is less wildlife. Full disclosure: this is where Oreo has bolted. But, because it wasn’t as wooded as the other part of Karura, I feel it is easier for her to come back. Still, I am being really careful with her. I might not let her off leash again until we improve our recall skills.
But, like I said, even if we’re hiking around with Oreo securely leashed, she has a great time. She really loves the forest. She even whines in the car at the entrance because she wants to get out and explore. I do hope to improve her recall and keep her from bolting. As you can see from the video, she loves playing off leash on her own and especially with other dogs.
By the way, the smaller part also has an obstacle course. It’s for people, but if it’s empty, you can have a little fun with your dog there.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you take you dog to Karura:
- I mentioned the on and off leash areas. Regardless of what area you are in, be mindful of other people. Many Kenyans are scared of dogs. Some wander into the off leash area unaware. Some are scared even if your dog is on leash. Just be aware of people coming and keep your dog in control.
- Similar to the above point, we share the trails with runners and cyclists. Be mindful of them and be aware that they may come from behind you.
- Don’t let your dog chase the wildlife—certainly don’t encourage it.
- Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. This isn’t Central Park (although there are rabid squirrels there) and there is a ton of wildlife.
- Make sure your dog is on a good flea/tick prevention plan. Talk to your vet about what is best for you dog. The forest has lots of wildlife and your dog will go home with ticks if you aren’t prepared.
- Karura is plastic free. Plastic bottles are not allowed. I’m talking about disposable water bottles, or soda bottles. A sports bottle or thermos is fine. Be sure to take one of those so your dog can stay hydrated. (You might want one for yourself too.)
- Kenya has banned plastic bags. So, what do you do about the poop? You can either have your dog go off on the side, or grab a stick and flick it to the side. (There is no shortage of sticks.)
One last thing: it gets MUDDY during the rainy season. It’s manageable, but be prepared.To learn more about Karura, check out their site. They have some additional information in their dog guidelines. Also, if you think you’ll go a lot, consider becoming a Friend of Karura Forest—it will save you a lot of money.