After seeing giraffes from afar on safari, I jumped at the opportunity to get up close with these majestic, gentle giants at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi – I even got to feed them!
For those with social media, you may be familiar with the Giraffe Manor. The manor frequents the reel feed on Instagram, where people who stay can have afternoon tea and breakfast with the giraffes. Based on those dreamy photos and videos I’ve seen, it’s certainly a bucket-list item for giraffe and animals lovers alike. For those who want to meet the giraffes, but a stay at the manor is not on the cards on your trip, you can still meet and feed the giraffes by visiting the Giraffe Centre.
A little background on the Giraffe Centre
The Giraffe Centre is located on the same grounds as the Giraffe Manor, meaning you can meet the very same gentle giants that go to breakfast and afternoon tea with guests at the manor. In fact, the giraffes have 12 acres to roam on the privately owned property.
The manor, which was established in the 1930’s, was never intended to be a hotel. It wasn’t until the 1970’s, when Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville bought Giraffe Manor and adopted their first orphaned Rothschild’s giraffe that set in motion what the manor and centre have become today. Alongside the infamous Giraffe manor accomodations, the Giraffe Centre has not only become a conservation centre for breeding the endangered Rothschild Giraffes, but the centre runs several educational programmes to inform people of all ages about the importance of conservation and protection.
Entering the Giraffe Centre
The entrance to the Giraffe Centre is lush with greenery – with a huge sign out the front that you cannot miss. Upon arrival, you’ll need an entry ticket. These can be purchased online or on arrival for a very reasonable fee of 1,500 ksh, which approximates to around AUD 15. We were advised that they only accept credit card, debit card or M-PESA as payment for the entry fees, but I’d recommend double checking their website for any potential changes to this before you go.
After you head through the entry gates and wash your hands, you’ll be given a small coconut shell containing pellets to feed the giraffes.
Meeting the giraffes
To meet the giraffes you follow the path to a large raised boardwalk, where you come face-to-face with the centre’s Rothschild Giraffes. The giraffes are able to approach the platform when they would like to be fed. One of the educators kindly introduced us to Betty, who is the oldest giraffe at the centre, and demonstrated how to safely feed the giraffes.
While the giraffes are used to being feed by visitors, they are still wild animals. Daisy, who’s a notorious head-butter if you get too close, is proof that you still need to be respectful and follow the rules of the centre to ensure the safety of yourself, your fellow centre visitors and the giraffes.
Visiting the Giraffe Centre ended up being one of the highlights of my trip and would highly recommend the experience to anyone who is visiting Nairobi. We hadn’t planned to visit the centre, but had luckily arrived back in Nairobi after our tour ended and had a free afternoon. It worked out perfectly as it’s not located too far from the city and you don’t have to book in advance like some other attractions.
Where: The Giraffe Centre, Duma Road, Langata Rongai, Rift Valley, Kenya
Booking required? You can book online or tickets can be purchased on arrival.
Cost: 1,500 ksh per non-resident adult or child (as of 10th September 2023)
Time needed: 1-3 hours (you can spend at as little or as long as you’d like there)
Best time/ day to go: We arrived around 2.30pm (on a Sunday), which was quite busy and crowded. People were very excited to see the giraffes and weren’t always aware of their surroundings or other people. The Giraffe Centre website states that the busiest times are between 11am – 1pm on weekdays and busy throughout the day on weekends and holidays, so it might be best to plan to visit at an off-peak time.
Facilities: Bathrooms, cafe, gift store
Money matters: Cards appear to be more accepted at the centre over cash, but I’d recommend having both to be safe.