I am absolutely thrilled and honored to present one of my favorite wildlife and Africa enthusiasts, and exceptional writer, Lori Robinson, as our guest blogger today! Lori is the author of Africa Inside, a blog focused around African wildlife (click here to check it out).
See below for Lori’s insight on visiting Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor, one of the most fascinating and exceptional accommodations all of Africa:
How to Kiss a Giraffe
Although this post is about Nairobi’s famous accommodation, The Giraffe Manor, it’s the manners of their resident giraffes that make the place so wonderful. As readers of AfricaInside.org know, I often write about animal encounters. And, not surprisingly, Africa offers some of the best. Staying at the Giraffe Manor is one of them.
Late Night Visitor
Most of the travelers in my group had international flights arriving into Kenya only in time for a late dinner their first night at the Manor. We were going around the table, introducing ourselves, when I noticed a pair of eyes as big as tea plates staring at us from the pitch dark outside the glass paned window.
I jumped from fright until I realized those eyes belonged to a giraffe.
I opened the window. Our visitor gracefully maneuvered her enormous head and long flexible neck through the window, inspecting our hair and our plates (neither appealed to her palate) until finding a bowl of pellets the staff had apparently put there for just such a visit.
Surprise visits from giraffes are not rare here (we had a similar visit the following morning at breakfast). That’s what makes the Giraffe Manor one of my top choices for accommodations in Nairobi.
Like most five star hotels, the Manor leaves chocolates on your bed during turndown. But they also place grain pellets along the windowsills of the 2nd story bedrooms, enticing the long necked visitors to act as morning wake up calls.
Being woken by a giraffe is unbeatable. Even better than the soft voiced “Jambo” the Maasai butler calls out to wake you (with coffee and biscuits) at tented camps in the East African bush.
If you know about the Giraffe Manor you may have heard that you can get quite intimate with the six endangered Rothchild giraffes roaming the grounds. But before I tell you about kissing the giraffe, let me explain a few things about giraffe tongues. Their 18-inch long tongues have a leathery resilient texture, with a thick protective slime made for stripping the leaves off thorny acacia bushes while avoiding the thorns.
The giraffes at the Manor are not picky about how their food pellets are delivered. You have choices:
-You can place your offering onto their tongue, which they curl into a perfect pellet-receiving cup
-You can throw the pellets on the ground
-or, my favorite –you can hold the pellet between your lips, inviting a giraffe kiss.
(I understand this is not for everyone).
Tell us, would you Kiss a Giraffe?
If you are still undecided whether you would do ‘it’ or not, this close up photo of me kissing a giraffe, tongue and all, may help you decide. Let us know once you have decided. Would you kiss a giraffe or not?
Other Reasons to stay at the Giraffe Manor
Although the giraffes are the star attraction at the Manor, the resident warthogs are almost as lovable. They quarrel over pellets the giraffes have missed on the ground, and mock charge the Manor’s dog that teases and chases them for fun.
The dog has not yet (that I am aware of) been seriously injured by the warthog’s sharp horns.
The Giraffe Manor is one of Nairobi’s most expensive choices for accommodation. If you don’t stay at the Manor, you can still see the giraffe (and kiss and feed them) by going to the Giraffe Center, adjacent to the Manor.
I would vote both the Giraffe Center and the Giraffe Manor as one of the world’s most delightful animal experiences.
Safari travel tip:
If you go, know that the price of the Giraffe Manor includes full board – lunch, dinner and breakfast. The problem is, most international flights (Virgin Airlines is one exception) don’t arrive early enough to take full advantage of the place, and check out is mid-morning.
So, if you can afford it, do yourself a favor and stay two nights.
Or, stay your first night in a less expensive place, checking in to the Giraffe Manor not a minute later than they allow.
This will give you time to walk to the Giraffe Center where you can learn about the six giraffe species, visit the gift shop with more giraffe related things then you could ever imagine, have lunch on the Giraffe Manor’s veranda, and afternoon tea on a bench tucked under a red flame tree.
Thirty years of travelling to and living in eleven African countries – from my first trip to southern Africa on assignment as a fashion model, to my recent role as Africa Adventures Specialist in East Africa for the Jane Goodall Institute – has nourished my lifelong passion for the natural world. In 2009 I sold my big house and most of my stuff so I could live more simply. When I’m not traveling in Africa I’m writing about it from my small cabin in the Teton National Forest in Moose, Wyoming. You can find me at AfricaInside.org