Karen is one of the oldest residential areas in Nairobi, said to have been named after Karen Blixen, the Danish writer of Out of Africa, whose farm originally covered the area. Karen offers a blend of colonial bungalows and villas on gorgeous and expansive grounds, and has ensured its continuing sense of country life around modern, urban centres and facilities. The area's many riding stables, stores and classy restaurants, race course, golf courses and clubs add to a cultural and historical background that includes the Bomas of Kenya, Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi National Park, Animal Orphanage, Sheldricks Home, Ostrich park, Giraffe Park and Manor, all overlooked by the scenic Ngong Hills. The area has a great deal of character.
Location: 16KM South West of Nairobi's City centre
Local news: Karen has it's own online publication - www.karenchronicle.com
Types of buildings: For quite a long time, most houses were huge, colonial houses set on well manicured lawns. But there has been an upsurge of private, modern houses over the last few years. The minimum allowable subdivision of a parcel of land is half an acre, depending on the area. Most feeder roads are tarmac and well maintained. The city council zoning does not allow apartments to be built in the Karen area.
Population Density: Low density residential area
Property values/trends: A half an acre parcel of land goes for 8-10 million.
Area zoning for development: The area is strictly a residential area, with the minimum subdivision of a parcel of land being half an acre. Karen is a zone 3 residential area.
Residents association: Karen Langata District Association is tasked by the residents to look after their interests. The association liaises with the city council to monitor development and maintenance of the suburb.. Offices at Langata link Centre.
Security: There are two police stations serving Karen and Langata. Hardy police station, on the junction of Langata Road and Magadi road and Karen police station on Ngong road.
Transport & road networks: Karen sits between Ngong Road and Langata road, with some areas running over to Magadi Road. The area borders the Nairobi National Park to the South and the Ngong Forest Sanctuary to the East. Residents use either Ngong Road or Langata Road to access Karen from the city, depending on which side they live. Several roads traverse the expansive residential area, including Bogani Road and Karen road. It takes 20 – 30 minutes to get to the city centre.
Hospitals: Situated along Langata Road, the very modern and well equipped Karen Hospital offers both in-patient and out-patient services.
Schools: Karen is home to a number of good international schools including; Hillcrest, Brookhouse and Banda. Other good schools include Light Academy, St. Christophers, and Nairobi West Academy. The Catholic University of East Africa is also situated in Karen.
Places Of Worship: Nairobi Pentecostal Church-Karen, Karen Vineyard Church, and Karen Community Church.
Shopping Centres & Amenities: Standing at the junction of Ngong road and Langata road, the Karen shopping centre and the Crossroad Shopping Mall offer a full shopping experience; from supermarket, jewellery shops, restaurants and coffee shops, banking facilities to bookstores and toy shops. The Jockey Club, on the edge of Ngong Forest, houses the seasonal horse racing events. There is also a public golf course. Plus the Karen Golf Club additionally offers a world class 18-hole golf course on exquisite grounds. Karen is also home to the Karen Blixen Museum and the Bomas of Kenya – a cultural centre displaying Kenya’s diversity. There are also plenty of places for children to visit, including the giraffe centre, the Nairobi animal orphanage and park and the Ostrich farm. The resurrection garden on Langata Road is a retreat centre with beautiful botanical gardens. The Karen Club is central to life in the area.
Useful Contacts/Links for the area:
Karen Hospital http://www.karenhospital.org Tel No: +254-020-6613000 Cell(s):+254-736-200001/3, +254-0726-222001/3
Residents' Association Tel No:020-891784
Karen Police Station 020-882538/883553
Hardy Police Station 020-891225
Brookhouse Schools, Langata 020-891236 www.brookhouse.ac.ke
Hillcrest Secondary Tel No: 020-883492/882222 www.hillcrest.ac.ke
The Banda School, Langata 020-891260/20 www.bandaschool.com
Karen Country Club http://www.karencountryclub.org Tel No: (+254) 020 883438 020 882801, 020 882405