Kenya – 3 Great Places To Meet Giraffes And Other Creatures Face-To-Face
Kenya has two places where visitors can meet the famous Rothschild giraffes face-to-face and an animal orphanage with other creatures.
Located in East Africa, Kenya offers a sprawling savannah, mountain highlands, and gorgeous beaches on the Indian Ocean. The country also features the dramatic Great Rift Valley and a number of national parks, home to wildlife like elephants, rhinos, lions, and giraffes. The famous Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya is known for its fascinating annual wildebeest migrations, while Amboseli National Park offers visitors views of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. However, Kenya also has a soft spot for the lofty giraffe and offers two great places where travelers can meet these gentle beasts. While there, travelers can also visit an animal orphanage to meet other species up close and personal.
1. Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor stands in a large estate, just outside the city of Nairobi and is known for giraffes putting their heads through the windows of the luxurious hotel in the hope of a tasty snack. In fact, people like Walter Cronkite and Rolling Stones’ lead man Mick Jagger have personally fed them breakfast.
The Rothschild giraffe is one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies in the world. They have become extinct in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and only a few remain in Kenya and Uganda.
In 1979, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife founded the Giraffe Center with the intention of breeding Rothschild giraffes on the plot of land. They successfully increased the population of giraffes in order to return them to national parks across the country.
However, the founders of Giraffe Center needed somewhere to live and there happened to be an ivy-covered, brick mansion standing in the center of the breeding grounds. After living there for some years, the founders came up with a brilliant idea. They turned the manor into the luxurious, 10-room hotel that is now Giraffe Manor.
These days, Giraffe Manor is among the most unique and iconic hotels in the world. Each morning, the giraffes head out from the Giraffe Center to the windows of Giraffe Manor to share breakfast with the guests. As the animals have unrestricted roaming rights, they do this purely by choice. Once they have dined on the guests’ breakfasts, they casually stroll back home.
2. Giraffe Center
Speaking of the Giraffe Center, this is also a worthy place to visit, even if you do stay at Giraffe Manor. Again, visitors have the opportunity of meeting the gentle creatures face-to-face.
The center opened to the public in 1983 but was first started in 1979 by Jock and Betty Leslie-Manville, who were determined to save the almost extinct Rothschild giraffe. They started a breeding program on the property and as mentioned before, the giraffes were then sent to various Kenyan National Parks. However, they decided to keep several of the animals at the center. The center now serves to educate the public, as part of the non-profit African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.
Visitors can literally meet the gentle giants face-to-face while walking on raised walkways. Guests can feed the giraffes little snack pellets, which often attract a grateful lick from their long, purple tongues. The giraffes are not alone on the property, as a number of warthogs also roam the grounds of the Giraffe Center.
3. Nairobi Animal Orphanage
Nairobi Animal Orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park and is one of the oldest of its kind in Kenya. Here, visitors can meet around 20 species of animals and birds.
The orphanage was founded in 1964 and treats animals in need of rehabilitation after injury or abandonment. These include lions, jackals, cheetahs, hyenas, parrots, ostriches, and more and the orphanage attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year. Each of the animals has been taken in by park rangers to receive medical treatment before they enter a rehabilitation program and eventually get released back into the wild.
While Nairobi Animal Orphanage is a conservation facility for animals in need, it is also a great educational resource for the public. This is especially so for school children who would otherwise not have an opportunity to see these animals in the wild.
Meet some friendly wildlife face-to-face in Kenya on your next African vacation – you won’t regret it and will be able to take some truly Instagrammable selfies of your trip!