After a fantastic morning with the baby elephants, it was time to move to the place that driven the entire itinerary, Giraffe Manor. Stuart and Sascha had watched a documentary that featured Giraffe Manor years and years ago, and it’s been on their bucket list ever since. As soon as we found out this year’s DWEN conference was going to be in Africa during the school holidays, we immediately decided to make that long awaited visit a reality.
After stalking the Safari Collection Instagram for months, I had a pretty good idea that the property was spectacular and offered plenty of interaction with the giraffes, but we all know real life is not social media and I wasn’t quite sure just how up close and personal we were actually going to get with these beautiful creatures.
No need for concern, in this instance the reality delivers an Insta-identical experience. The property itself is stunning, with giraffe theming present in every way you could possibly imagine, but executed in such a stylish and tasteful way you can’t help wondering how to inject a bit more giraffe into your own home.
As soon as we’d had our lunch we headed over to the adjoining Giraffe Centre run by AFEW, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. It educates Kenyan school children and local and international visitors on the wildlife and environment of Kenya, and in particular the endangered Rothschild giraffe. When AFEW Kenya was founded in 1979 by the then owners of the Giraffe Manor property, there were only 120 of this giraffe species left. There are now over 300, and we had the chance to get up close and personal with a few of the 9 giraffes currently living on site.
After our initial briefing – don’t hold the food flat on your palm like you would for a horse, pinch it between your fingers and let their tongues curl out and grab it, don’t pick up any food that you drop or you might find yourself the recipient of a giraffe headbut – it was time to quite literally meet them face to face.
Before long we were brave enough to practice ‘kissing’ these gentle giants – their saliva is full of antibacterial agents so strangely safe, if a little icky! – by holding a food pellet in our lips and letting them grab it. Not as gross as it sounds unless you got an overly wet swipe with their enormous 18 inch tongues!
Once we could tear ourselves away it was time to accompany our guide on a nature walk where he showed us a myriad of trees and plants that have medicinal uses in Kenya – fascinating stuff for two pharmacists, I wonder if it qualifies as a CPD activity??? Sam was more taken with the poison arrow tree that the Maasai warriors use on their arrow tips to kill their prey….
We needed to be back at Giraffe Manor for one of the day’s highlights, when the giraffes come for their nightly feeding. We watched them make their way up through the trees, and then had so much fun feeding them and watching them interact for the next hour or so. I’d bought Sascha a giraffe onesie which she reluctant posed for photos in, before handing it over to Sam who couldn’t get enough of posing with every giraffe he could find.
Each of the giraffes have a unique personality. Kelly can only be fed from the front because she headbuts anyone who approaches from the side, Ed has been grumpy for the past few weeks and is picking fights with the others, while Stacy is protective of her baby, and keeps a close eye on anyone who she feels is getting a little too close.
The giraffes are accompanied by a group of warthogs who are so ugly cute it’s not funny, and when our guide told us they have a 60 second memory it was hilarious to see how they quite literally constantly forgot what they were doing and started over.
Still buzzing from a great day we headed off to bed, ready for our 6am human wake up call to prepare for the giraffe wake up call at 6.45. Giraffes clearly don’t have clocks though, and the first one was outside our window well before then, letting us know that she fully expected a morning snack in return for her services.
Sharing your breakfast table with giraffes is just as much fun as it sounds. They eat from their own giraffe print plates, and make a huge mess as they scatter their pellets around. It’s actually very hard to stop taking pictures and interacting with them for long enough to eat your own breakfast!
All too soon our stay was over and it was time to head for the airport to fly out to the Masai Mara for the next part of our adventure, but I can’t think of a better place to have woken up on World Giraffe Day, and can’t recommend a stay here highly enough.