Our visit to the Giraffe Centre was incredibly special. But nothing quite prepared me for the unbelievable scene we witnessed on arrival at Giraffe Manor
In front of this ivy strewn house, four or five Rothschild’s giraffes from the sanctuary were dipping their long necks up and down into the hands of guests. There was just a small stone platform between them (giraffes can’t step up this far with their long limbs). And the guests were interacting with these gentle giants in between sipping sundowners in front of this great house.
And the exciting thing was we were about to join them!
The beginnings of Giraffe Manor date back to 1932 when Sir David Duncan created the house, inspired by a Scottish hunting lodge. After selling it in 1960, the house fell into disrepair until conservationist Betty Leslie-Melville and her husband Jock bought the property in 1974. Today, Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley – fourth-generation Kenyans – own Giraffe Manor. They are also the directors of Sala’s Camp, Sasaab and Solio Lodge, which all form part of The Safari Collection.
A stay at this very exclusive historic manor comes with a hefty price tag, but it promises a once in a life time experience. The Rothschild’s giraffes have sadly become endangered, with fewer than 1,000 of them left in the wild. Giraffe Manor and various wildlife groups in Kenya are doing a lot to protect this beautiful species.
After many years of work, the Giraffe Manor team have worked out a slick operation where the Rothschild’s giraffes in the area have a routine and know when it’s feeding time at the manor!
There’s a garden spa, greenhouse (where you can enjoy private dining) and it has provided an enchanting wedding setting for a number of couples lucky enough to get married here.
Past celebrity guests who have stayed in some of its 11 guestrooms include Nicole Kidman, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Sir Richard Branson.
Guests are encouraged to rise early for 6am, in time to ‘breakfast with the giraffes.’ The gates outside the manor are opened up (and guests must stay inside), and the windows are opened to allow the giraffes to poke their heads into the dining room windows. If you’re not an early bird, you don’t have to leave your bed, as they may well poke their head inside your bedroom window to say hello too.
During the day, the giraffes generally come and go from The Giraffe Centre and towards the end of the day, they drift towards the manor, to see the guests.
As we sipped on tangy Dawa cocktails (a delicious Kenyan concoction of vodka, lime, honey and soda), we enjoyed visits from Selma, Kelly, Daisy and the nine-month-old Margaret. Staff shared stories with us about each of the giraffe’s unique personalities (Kelly is the feisty one and another was expecting). I even managed to steal a couple of kisses from Kelly which was special, if a little slobbery!
Once these elegant giants slowly drifted back into the long grass, one by one, we watched the warthogs scurry around on their knees, eating the remaining pellets.
The sun slowly sank behind the knuckle-like Ngongo hills and it was time to leave this amazing place. This is one wildlife encounter that I won’t forget.
Check out the video we made following our visit. Hope it inspires!