Getting up-close-and-personal at Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

Kenya offers the inquisitive traveller a vast array of safari experiences across the breadth and length of this magnificent east African country. However, only a 40-minute drive away from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is one of the most unusual destinations I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Probably one of the only city safaris in the world, Giraffe Manor welcomes guests from around the globe to get up-close-and-personal with the Rothschild Giraffe.

Giraffe Manor_8.A friendly giraffe joining us for breakfastA friendly giraffe joining us for breakfast

Imagine opening your bedroom window in the morning to the extraordinary sight of giraffes poking their heads through, waiting for you to hand feed them. Then watching them all gather in the front of the manor house in anticipation of literally joining you downstairs for breakfast. They contort their beautiful long necks to fit inside the arched dining room windows for you to feed them their giraffe food, while other guests are enjoying their breakfast, transfixed by the unbelievable sight of these huge animals at such close proximity.  The scene feels like you are witnessing a Disney film, but this is real – we are in Africa and these are wild, endangered animals. Get your cameras at the ready – this is a sight worth travelling half way around the world to experience.

Giraffe Manor_7.Where's mine_Where’s mine?

This magnificent manor house resembles in structure and façade an English stately home, complete with leaded light windows, balconies, terraces and creeping green foliage galore. Set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, this house is one of the city’s most iconic buildings, dating back to the 1930s and reminiscent of the early days of the European arrivals in east Africa.

Giraffe Manor_6.Two's a crowdTwo’s a crowd at Giraffe Manor

Originally home to the American conservationist Betty Leslie-Melville and her husband, Jock Leslie-Melville, they adopted Daisy, their first Rothschild Giraffe, and established a breeding programme to protect this magnificent endangered giraffe species.

Giraffe Manor_1.Giraffe ManorGiraffe Manor

Today the manor house has been totally modernised, incorporating ten luxury ensuite guest rooms, with access to a communal living room, a TV room, a casual dining area and a formal dining room. It could almost be described as a home-away-from-home, with staff always on-hand to ensure your stay is both relaxing and informative. All meals are included in the price of the room, with the food plentiful and of a high standard. They also cater for any special dietary requirements, and even if you arrive very late at night, a meal will be waiting for you.

Giraffe Manor_4.Reaching up for breaksfastReaching up for breakfast

Giraffe Manor has a total of nine resident giraffes, with the arrival of the latest calf born a few months ago. Adjacent to the manor is the AFEW Giraffe Centre, which is open to the public. It was founded in 1979 by Jock Leslie-Melville and quickly became world famous as a nature education centre. The Rothschild Giraffes can be easily identified by their lack of markings above the top of their legs and they are the tallest of the giraffe species, fondly being referred to as White Sock Giraffes. Thanks to the breeding programme there are now over 300 Rothschild Giraffes scattered across various locations in Kenya.

Giraffe Manor_2.Giraffe Manor PatioGiraffe Manor Patio

The natural interaction with these magnificent giraffes, the world’s tallest animal, makes a visit to Giraffe Manor a truly memorable experience. It should certainly be high up on any animal lover’s bucket list – it certainly was on mine.

by Amanda Bernstein

For more information about Giraffe Manor, please go here

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