I finally managed to head to Nairobi in Kenya which is a destination I had been wanting to visit for a while. We departed Dubai at 4pm and it was a nice 4 hours and 50 minutes over to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Quickly disembarking and driving over to the hotel we had arranged to meet downstairs for dinner with recommendations from our fellow Kenyan crew. We walked over to the restaurant and struggling a little with the menu, the purser ordered us a wide selection of meat and veg dishes for us all to tuck into.
However, the dishes weren’t at all what I was expecting. The cuisine reminded me much more of Indian food, except with a lot more bones in. Huge plates of beef, chicken and goat were brought out accompanied with rice and spinach and even garlic naan! I much more preferred the vegetable based dishes which is unlike me. If I’m honest, I wasn’t a massive fan of the food here and I wouldn’t recommend. The atmosphere was great though and we had our own little hut to ourselves which was equipped with a TV showing Wimbledon, so it had that kind of home comfort.
Heading to bed at 1am, I had the worst nights sleep imaginable before waking up at 7am for the tour we had booked. However, our driver was an hour late which left me wishing I could have had an extra hour in bed! Anyway, it was straight into the car and all seven of us made our way over to the Giraffe Centre in Lang’atta. On the drive over we actually passed the infamous Giraffe Manor where you can stay for $600 a night with a year wait on the list for a stay. Whilst here you have breakfast with the giraffes who pop their heads through the windows to steal some of your breakfast. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while.
Just round the corner was the giraffe centre and we paid 1,000 shillings to enter and cuddle and feed the giraffes.
The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) Kenya was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan citizen of British descent, and his American born wife, Betty Leslie-Melville. They began the Giraffe Centre after discovering the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe. A subspecies of the giraffe found only in the grasslands of East Africa.
At the time, the animals had lost their habitat in Western Kenya, with only 130 of them left on the 18,000-acre Soy Ranch that was being sub-divided to resettle squatters. Their first effort to save the subspecies was to bring two young giraffes, Daisy and Marlon, to their home in the Lang’ata suburb, southwest of Nairobi. Here they raised the calves and started a programme of breeding giraffe in captivity. This is where the centre remains to date.
The giraffes were so tall and really super cute, the one above is only a baby at 7 months old! I thought the giraffes must gain weight quickly eating so much food each day, but the keeper explained that the giraffes eat around 4 large buckets of food each day in order to survive whilst running around the grounds to burn some of those calories! You also could feed the giraffes from your mouth to receive a giraffe kiss, I passed even though all the other crew did as I wasn’t really keen and wondered where on earth that tongue had been…
As it was too difficult to reach the adult giraffes from the ground there was a raised platform to reach them. There were signs up saying beware of giraffe headbutts which a few of the crew experienced, but overall the giraffes were really cute even if they were only interested in the food in your hand.
Time to make our way over to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which is the world’s most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program and is one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, in honour of the memory of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE.
For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside David, during which time they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild species. Daphne Sheldrick’s involvement with wildlife has spanned a lifetime, and she is now a recognised international authority on the rearing of wild creatures and is the first person to have perfected the milk formula and necessary husbandry for infant milk-dependent elephants and rhinos. Since the death of her husband, Daphne and her family have lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park where they have built the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its pioneering Orphans’ Project.
During 11am till noon, the elephants are given their midday mud bath and feeding session and we’re told all about the conversation efforts and how poachers are now shot immediately for killing these stunning animals for their ivory tusks. Great lengths are going to protect these beautiful creatures, it’s just harrowing how the elephants have ended up as orphans due to the cruel intentions of others. We desperately need to protect and conserve our planet before these exceptional creatures become extinct.
We were told about each of them individually and their personalities. Its crazy how the keepers can tell them apart when they all look so similar, but they were very accurate in their descriptions. One of the elephants whose name I cannot remember but was described as the naughty and mischievous one of the group, when it was time to leave decided to run right through the crowd rather than follow the rest of the herd! It caused quite a stir but was absolutely amazing to get so up close with the babies!
The above picture was so sweet, the keeper was throwing water over to the elephants to cool them down and one of them opened their mouth to try and drink as much of the water as they could. A failed attempt but very cute to watch!! They explained that the reason they cover themselves in mud is to help protect their skin from the harsh suns rays they face in Eastern Africa. I guess its sort of like us slathering ourselves in suncream.
After this, we were taken to a small market for some lunch and souvenir shopping before going back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep before our night flight back to Dubai. I had such a fun trip with a fabulous crew and I’m dying to spend even more time exploring Kenya. A five day trip would be perfect to really throw yourself into the lifestyle and culture here, and to tick the Giraffe Manor off my bucket list!!