Whether you’re jogging along the scenic paths of the Karura Forest or taking a brisk walk under its beautiful green foliage or even slowly strolling through its tranquil setting to ensure every oxgen-craved pulmonary capillary in your lungs are filled with air so fresh, it makes the daily Nairobi smog seem like, for the lack of a better word, hell – even a fleeting five minutes in one of Nairobi’s urban forests will inspire you to set aside time in your busy schedule for your next forest walk.
It’s not a secret. Spending time in natural, green environments promotes therapeutic effects on the human mind, body and soul. The Japanese for centuries have known of the forest’s impact on one’s well-being. In an effort to ensure that future generations would not lose their appreciation for Mother Nature thanks to rapid urbanization in Japanese communities, in 1982 the Japanese government introduced Shinrin Yoku or “forest bathing,” to encourage the population to take regular walks in forests – natural therapy centers – to improve one’s health and happiness. It’s not by coincidence that the Japanese live longer than anyone else in the world.
In 2010, researchers from the Finnish Forest Research institute found that being in natural and green settings reduced stress, improved moods, reduced anger and aggressiveness and strengthened our immune systems by increasing the number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells. For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), researchers found their symptoms were reduced when they played in green settings.
Urbanized living is stressful, and it has become increasingly clear that as humans, we are simply not suited for that in the long term. We were designed to thrive in natural environments, and perhaps it’s this intrinsic link to Mother Nature that results in our urge to spend time in green spaces and crave for fresh, un-polluted air.
Every time I visit Karura Forest. Depending on the season, rainfall and time of day, the scents of the indigenous trees, plants, herbs, flowers; and the sights and sounds of the forest, exert a different therapeutic effect.
With its gentle rolling landscape and shallow valleys, stunning 50ft waterfall, exotic bamboo forest, and historic Mau Mau caves once used as hideouts during the struggle for the nation’s independence; Karura Forest is the ideal place to rest your mind, tap into your spiritual side and burn off some calories.
The proper trails and clear signage throughout the forest makes it easy to navigate and also ensures that a walk through Karura Forest is a very safe activity. Occasionally, you may be entertained by some 200 species of wildlife, and with most plant species visibly labelled, even a quick pit-stop to catch your breath can turn into an educational tutorial that even young children will find interesting.
FAMILY FUN AT KARURA FOREST
Kids & Parents Magazine together with Capital Kids organized a family outing that left parents and children feeling engergized and fit, Saturday. The Treasure Hunt saw teams of families explore Karura Forest, some for the very first time, and enjoy a day filled with fun.
In case you’ve missed it, check out some of the adventurous moments: