Just outside the bustling heart of Nairobi is the suburb of Langata, home to the iconic Giraffe Manor. This hotel is nearly a century old and reminiscent of a Scottish sporting lodge. Nestled on 12 acres of private land and surrounded by forest, the manor is enchanting in its own right. However, the elegant décor, lush gardens, and inviting courtyards pale in comparison to the beauty of the Rothschild giraffes that live on the property.
Chad and I visited the manor on our trip to Kenya last year as a way to combine two of our greatest loves: beautiful wildlife and unique travel experiences. I was skeptical at first; as a conservationist, I can’t support tourist attractions that use captive animals to lure visitors. Animals like tiger and elephants, which are routinely captured, drugged, and forced to interact with tourists in some parts of the world, are often tortured for the sake of providing Western tourists with what is billed as an “authentic experience” with a wild animal. However, after I did a little digging into Giraffe Manor before our visit, I discovered an organization dedicated to protecting and conserving the giraffes that freely roam its property.
More than simply a luxury boutique hotel experience, Giraffe Manor is unmatched because of its resident herd of the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. These gentle giants roam the property entirely of their own volition, approaching the manor to get a snack each afternoon. Without keepers or trainers on staff, the animals come and go as they please. The giraffes and guests are separated by a short wall to ensure a safe distance (a single giraffe kick has enough force to kill a lion!) The giraffes could easily step over the wall if they wanted to, but they are quite pleased to stay on their side. Guests are encouraged to share treats with the herd, which the animals gladly accept before disappearing back into the bush.
While this awe-inspiring experience may leave you with amazing photos and a lifetime of memories, it will also undoubtedly soften your heart toward the plight of these creatures. The Rothschild giraffe was designated as an endangered species in 2010 when the population count dipped below 670. Faced with constant threats of habitat lost to human development, drought, illegal poaching, and civil unrest, these vulnerable creatures are in desperate need of support to grow their families and save their homes.
Since 1974, Giraffe Manor has provided a sanctuary for the indigenous Rothschild Giraffe and has been a champion for this species. When the original owners successfully re-homed Daisy, their first giraffe, they realized the potential impact of their work. Giraffe Manor has become a model of safe breeding and re-homing practices and has helped the population grow to more than 1,600 in just six years. The property’s education center provides an insightful look into the species’ challenges with the aim of instilling a passion for conservation in each of the manor’s guests.
If you can’t make the trip to Kenya to stay at Giraffe Manor and visit our partners the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, check out my collection to ensure the resilience of these organizations and creatures.